Learning and painting: Orchids with Claudia Stevens, part 1

The mechanical whirring of a pencil sharpener.  The brushing of hands across paper.  The creaking and scratching of stumps smudging graphite along spaces too small for fingers to reach.  The musical chattering of lively voices discussing light, shadow, color, and the difficulty of transferring a three-dimensional object to only two dimensions.  The dry rubbing of knead erasers correcting everything from minute details to the proportions of petals to sepals.

That was the soundscape of Claudia Steven's Orchid Painting Workshop at the Lyceum this past Sunday.  This was the first class in a two-class series on drawing and painting orchids.  After everyone introduced each other, noting that nobody had ever taken a botanical art class before, Claudia led the class into the warm-up portion of the class.

"Go ahead and pinch your specimen behind the magnifying glass using the pincers there," Claudia instructed at the beginning of the class.  Soft giggles soon erupted as the students fiddled with the device and the angle of the orchids they each received.

The class began with loose sketches so that the students could "get to know the plant" and "map it out" on the paper before adding greater detail.  "The warm-ups often end up being the best!" Claudia commented.

With the help of a light box, the students transferred their sketches to watercolor paper and began carefully selecting and applying color to their drawings.  Each painting turned out different, both in color and shape, showcasing the variety of perspective and style present among all the students.

Next week, we will hear from the students about their experience in the class.