"My idea of Heaven is to wake up, have a good breakfast, and spend the rest of the day drawing." -- Peter Falk

Did you know the Hutchinson Art Center has a Friday Morning Drawing Group? If you like to draw and want to tone your skills, or want to experience live drawing with other artists, consider coming to one of the Friday Sessions from 9 a.m. to noon.

Drawing from still life or a live model brings deeper understanding of line, shape and detail. With three dimensional subjects in front of you comes the opportunity to draw more of what you are seeing, rather than what you ‘think’ the subject should look like. This is critical in strengthening and advancing skills in how to perceive, well, just about everything.

During art college in San Francisco, I studied under many memorable teachers, one was combat sketch and courtroom artist Howard Brodie.

Mr. Brodie’s use of loose lines captured character and expression. He sketched Jack Ruby at his trial for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan at his trial for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy, as well as combat scenes during World War II.

When he accepted the art school teaching position, the school president remembers Brodie saying, "I have only one thing to ask of you: Please be kind to your students, because drawing is hard."

Mr. Brodie’s kind personality and teaching methods were as delightful and informative as his sketches.

What Brodie brought to this young art student was threefold: drawing skills, permission to explore and experiment, and finding new ways of looking at what I was drawing, which spilled over into how I have looked at everything since.

One of my favorite exercises in drawing class was blind contour drawing. Blind contour drawing is an important method and exercise in drawing. The belief or illusion that the pencil point is touching the contour of the subject one is looking at. Contour drawing shifts the mind from left mode to right mode thinking. The left mode of the brain rejects precise and complex spatial perception and permits the right brain to take over. Blind contour drawing doesn’t necessarily produce ‘good’ drawings, but does train the eye and hand to work as a team.

No corrections, no judgements. This exercise in completely focusing on the subject and not the drawing itself puts in motion separating what we think we see, to what we really are, and how we perceive it.

Actor Peter Falk would often join the classroom. Falk was an accomplished artist, which isn’t too widely known. He would walk in and take a seat at one of the drawing benches. During our three-hour drawing sessions, our classroom became the great equalizer, all of us focused on bettering and enjoying ourselves.

Each person around the room sees the subject from a different angle with different lighting. When I was in the room with Brodie, Falk and my other classmates, this was a necessary reminder. Don't compare what we are doing with others; our view and approach can be so different but also wonderfully different.

The group nature of such drawing sessions is similar to the classroom experience of my memories. At first, you are nervous and a bit self-conscious about what you are creating and what others will think. Then you realize everyone there is there to grow and have a fun experience.

 For more information, contact Hutchinson Art Center in person at 405 N. Washington St., by phone at 620-663-1081 or email hutchartcenter@gmail.com.