Monday, October 31, 2011

Event Review - Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School

Since I was old enough to hold a crayon, I wanted to be an artist. As a kid, I went through drawing books like a teenager with a stack of Playboys. I learned how to draw superheroes from a book called How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. Starting college, I announced that I would draw comic books for a living.

There's just one problem - I'm really not very good.

Happily, you don't have to be good if you want to draw. There's no policeman who confiscates your sketchbook as a penalty for your lack of God-given talent. So I keep doing it, and when I heard about Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School, I knew I had to at least give it a whirl.

Here's the theory behind Dr. Sketchy. There's a bar, right, and they do regular bar stuff, like serve drinks and smell like stale cigarette smoke and have dirty bathrooms. Then once a month, they bring in models. I don't mean like 'leggy supermodel' models, I mean like art models. But these are generally hot women models, and they pose in costumes that range from publicly indecent to g-string-and-pasties. And they pose, and you draw them. Then, after a couple hours, you leave, mentally exhausted and sexually frustrated.

Now, if you don't draw, this probably isn't entirely your cup of tea. I mean, I draw fairly poorly, but I do draw, so I thought it was a hoot, but if you're not prepared to spend a couple hours scribbling in your sketchbook, it might not be your bag. You might wind up just spending two hours looking at a nearly naked woman and drinking. You know, now that I think about it, this might still be your bag. Mostly naked chicks and booze? Where's the downside?

I went to Dr. Sketchy's Halloween Special last night, and they stepped it up even more than the usual. Instead of one model, there were three, and they dressed in costumes inspired by Rocky Horror. One chick came out in Tim Curry's costume, which I must say works a lot better on a dame. Another was wearing a cute little number with a hat and blue socks. The third was dressed like a dude, but with hot pants.

And these chicks were wild. Not like pole-dance wild, but just full of great ideas for ways to stand around while we drew their pictures. We started out with some two-minute warm-up poses, which was a little like trying to tackle a greased pig while you're wearing a straight jacket. The five-minute poses were somewhat better, but still left me cursing every time the buzzer went off and the model left.

The best stuff I did was in the ten-minute poses. I can do quite a bit of drawing in ten minutes, and while I probably could have worked for forty minutes on just one pose and really tightened it up, I was still able to work out some nice details and make a couple pieces I could brag about later.

The twenty-minute poses were particularly interesting, because they had two models. Of course, since I was struggling like hell to draw just one, having two of them just made it worse. I got one decent piece out of the twenty-minute poses, one that was passable, and one that would have got me thrown out of art school. Which I guess makes it lucky that Dr. Sketchy's is an Anti-Art School.

I learned a heck of a lot in those three hours. I learned how to quickly build a framework before I start trying to fill in details. I learned how to focus on the parts of the drawing that would improve it. I learned how to draw what I see, instead of what my mind is telling me should be there. But most of all, I learned that if I really focus on creating art for three hours, I start to draw like an amputee with a pencil taped to his foot.

Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School might not be the first pick for most people. It's wacky and off-beat, with loads of sexual tension that nobody acknowledges and a room full of artists who don't want anyone to tell them how to draw. It's a little disconcerting to be sitting in a crowded bar where not one person is saying anything, but at the same time, there's a tremendous energy to the room. You can almost see the creativity flowing out of people's heads (and considering the fact that this is a bar full of artists, there's a good chance someone was high enough to actually see the creativity flowing). I had an absolutely fantastic time, and I even won a prize for drawing one model with an alien chest-burster exploding from between her boobs. I'll be going back, I can tell you that.

Now, you might be reading this and thinking, 'Man, I wish they had one of those in my town!' And the thing is, they probably do. There are branches of Dr. Sketchy in nearly every major city in the US, a bunch in Canada, the UK, Europe, and even Australia. Sadly, there are none in Antarctica, so for my readers stuck down at Ice Station Zebra, you'll have to make do drawing each other. For just about everyone else, check out the website and find out how far you would have to drive to draw nearly-naked dames while you swill booze:

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