In Visual Arts faculty member Raúl Miyar’s Foundations of Art class, students become keenly aware of their environment. Only by learning to refine their skill of observation can they begin to develop as artists. “Figure drawing is a pillar in beginning drawing lessons because of the complexity of the subject,” Miyar noted. “It requires intense focus and observation to attain accurate descriptions of shapes and forms. As one of the most important foundational drawing exercises, it expands the student’s perceptional skills.”

To hone their drawing skills and techniques this semester, students completed a series of figure studies using their peers as models. For Miyar, observing objectively is critical. “At the introduction to the course I explain that they are not learning how to draw but are instead learning how to see,” he said. “Most of them have probably not absorbed this information conceptually at this stage, but in time as they practice their observational skills, they will begin to comprehend the power of visual expression and how they are in control of what they communicate visually. As they develop their skills further, these conceptual ideas will become the basis of their practice, but before they reach that point they need to develop the technical skills that will enable them to communicate their ideas freely and uniquely.”

In their sketches, Miyar’s students capture their classmates in various poses during everyday life. As part of the campus environment, masks appear in many of the students’ compositions and reflect the reality of life during a pandemic. “The emphasis now in their training is technical, but whether the student knows it or not, when observing reality the result is usually compellingly honest and captivating,” Miyar pointed out. “The ordinary, which is normally overlooked, is not transformed; it is simply observed and highlighted. In acquiring the basic technical skills, the student learns to scrutinize that which is usually not noticed, consequently giving it new life and significance. The result is a direct window into each artist’s perception of the world and all the emotions connected to what and how each individual perceives.”

Sketches by (left to right): Elliot Tick ’24, Eads Hubbell ’23, and Elizabeth Perkins ’24