Day 2 of the 5 Day Art Challenge

Art Challenge Day 2… the Classical art academy years part 1.

After I graduated high school I didn’t go to college. I got a job. I never felt like I was college material. Art I could do. Even English and maybe some Earth science. But the rest of it… nah. So a job it was.

I worked for a sign making shop. It was creative. It was downtown. It was fun. It fed my creativity. But the hours were hit or miss (which gave me time to make art but…) and the pay, well, I wasn’t going to eat lobster on it! So when the opportunity came for me to take an office job with better pay and regular hours I took it. I worked the office job for about 4+ years… Monday – Friday… 8:30am – 4:30pm. And in the meantime married the love of my life (we’ve been married now for 21 years)! Which was wonderful and my husband was and is to this day my biggest cheerleader and supporter of my art! But being a wife and working a full time job was tiring and left very little time for art making…

And slowly my creativity began to die. And I lost the desire to paint.

I turned to jewelry making ’cause it was easy and relaxing to sit and string beads together. It was fast, so I felt creatively productive. And I could sell my wares to the girls at the office. So my jewelry making business was born! I did that for the 4+ years of the office job (I still make jewelry today, just mostly to adorn myself!). It was satisfying but I longed for the time and hours and energy to paint.

Then that glorious day came when my hubby was making money enough for me to quit the office job and become a full time artist and housewife. Something we both wanted and longed for.

And my creativity began to grow again!

I began painting and drawing but I longed for more. To know more. To do more. But these were the days before blogs and YouTube and Pinterest and online classes. You couldn’t Google what you wanted to know. You had to read a book or take a physical class if you wanted to learn something new. So, I applied to a local college and got accepted. But then I learned that we had a classical art academy in town where there was no math or science or english… whoo hoo! You better believe I opted to go there instead of college!

And it was the best thing I did for my art growth and career.

I attended the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts for 4 years. I studied under some great artists. I participated in shows. Won awards. Sold paintings. Built a client base. Bonded with other artists. A group of us students formed a group called The Artist on the Verge.  We met once a month for many years to discuss art and share what we were working on. We had annual shows and sales together. For me, it was the closest thing to living the kind of artist life you read about in art history books. Art, creating, discussing, showing, community.

Then hurricane Katrina came along and change everything. But that’s another story.

I loved my years at the academy. Here are some of my favorite pieces from a few of the drawing classes I attended.

The sphere below was worked on for an entire semester! All we did was draw and shade shapes. Real shapes. Like an actual sphere sitting on a table lit with a lamp. Along with  the cylinder, triangle and cube. This sphere was the bane of my existence at the time. And I must say it still needs a little work… it could be darker in the shadows… maybe one day I’ll get to finishing that.


My favorite drawing class was gesture drawing. Most think figure when talking about gesture drawing. But the class I took was nature and objects. The teacher would set up elaborate displays of items and nature and we would circle around the display filling page after page of 1 to 2 minute drawings. Sometimes we would get 5 to 10 minutes. And we would change between drawing mediums. I loved it and loved how the drawings turned out… unfinished yet so complete.






My other favorite type of drawing is blind contour continuous line drawing. I still do this practice today. You set pen to paper, look at your subject, begin drawing without ever looking down or ever picking up your pen. It looks wonky and is also amazing how much it will resemble your subject!



If you have never tried gesture drawing objects or blind contour drawings, give it a go! It will train you to really see and will get your eyes and hands to work together.

Up next… Day 3 Watercolors.

Happy drawing!


About Rachel Crawford

Hi y'all! I'm Rachel Crawford, an artist, poet and surface designer who is passionate about color and pattern, poetry, the great outdoors and art history. I also love to crochet and knit, and free hand embroider. All of which you will find on this blog! My artwork and patterns are happy, peaceful and full of color as are all the things my happy hands find to create. I'm a native of the colorful and eclectic city of New Orleans where I currently live with my wonderful hubby of 25+ years marriage. Welcome!
This entry was posted in Creative Encouragement, Learn Art, My Artwork and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s