Artist Magdalena Pawlowski, in collaboration with the William Benton Museum of Art, teaches viewers through virtual workshop  

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The William Benton Museum of Art isn’t just a museum. Along with numerous other activities, the Benton also hosts drawing workshops that are open to anyone who wishes to attend. This past Thursday, artist Magdalena Pawlowski led a drawing workshop over Zoom where she taught the audience the basics of drawing with charcoal.  

After introducing herself, Pawlowski angled her camera right above her hands, so the audience had a spectacular view of exactly what her hands were doing while drawing. The props of choice for this specific workshop were two daffodils laying on the table. Throughout her seminar, Pawlowski provided the audience with numerous, beneficial tips.  

“Another great compositional trick is to use a triangle,” she said. “A triangle is a strong, visual shape that is connected on all sides, leading the viewer’s eye throughout the piece.”  

Furthermore, she explained the importance of diagonal pieces and how they are useful in creating movement. While these pieces of information could seem redundant to a seasoned artist, they are invaluable for a beginner.  

Pawlowski began by zooming in on the flowers. While the size of her daffodils on paper did not represent the actual size of them in front of her, this gave her the ability to truly hone in on the details of each flower. She then began to create a loose outline using pencil.  

“Very, very lightly just penciling in,” she said. “Wouldn’t worry too much about it, just getting the general shape and making sure there are six petals.” 

“ANOTHER GREAT COMPOSITIONAL TRICK IS TO USE A TRIANGLE. A TRIANGLE IS A STRONG, VISUAL SHAPE THAT IS CONNECTED TO ALL SIDES, LEADING THE VIEWER’S EYE THROUGHOUT THE PIECE.”

Magdalena Pawlowski

After the penciling was completed, Pawlowski went in with her main utensil: charcoal. She warned her students that it can become very messy, so be sure to roll up your sleeves.  

“That’s the great part about charcoal,” she said. “You can smudge, you can erase, so you don’t have to be too precious.” 

During this secondary step, Pawlowski stressed the importance of not thinking about detail. The focus is on creating a solid outline shape and roughly going over where the pencil was.  

“You gotta kind of build the foundation before you put the details,” she said. “The details are kind of like that cherry on top.”  

After the foundation is over, Pawlowski began drawing her dark background, which could change the entire piece.  

“It is a little time consuming, but it’s definitely worth it,” she said.  

If one hopes to make their drawing much more life-like and three dimensional, Pawlowski suggested getting rid of outlines: “If you just get rid of the outlines, that’s going to make it look dimensional, almost immediately.” 

Pawlowski’s workshop was highly informative, yet relaxing at the same time. Students and non-members alike were able to learn an entirely new skill completely over Zoom, while also having the feeling of drawing with a friend. Free drawing materials for UConn students and members were available for pickup, as well as for non-members for a fee of $5.  

If you would like to join the next drawing session, keep an eye on the Benton’s website.  

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