Workshop Helps Seniors Develop Drawing Skills

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Beginning and advanced artists alike are invited to try their hand at drawing a costumed model during a weekend workshop hosted by Helen Tennent, a graduate of the American Academy of Art in Chicago and member of the Payson Art League.

"It is absolutely all levels of accomplishment," said Tennent, whose paintings and pottery are on display at Payson's Down the Street Art Gallery. "Everyone is there to enjoy themselves and meet new artists. It's going to be fun."

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Helen Tennent practices her drawing skills, as Robert Barela poses patiently. Tennent has initiated a sketching workshop at the Senior Circle, 215 N. Beeline Highway in Payson.

The workshop is open to Senior Circle members. Those 50 and older can sign up for a $15 yearly membership the day of the workshop.

Participants are required to bring their own materials. Basic tools include 16-by-20-inch sheets of paper and a pencil or piece of charcoal for sketching.

"People can come with any medium they want," said Tennent, who will provide several extra table easels and drawing boards for optional use. "Sometimes, it's good to draw on pastel paper in gray or brown shades."

Each meeting, a different model will hold a pose in 10-to 15-minute intervals, with breaks of about seven minutes. After the model leaves, participants still have two more hours to finalize their sketches.

Robert Barela, who will be outfitted in Western wear, is the first model.

"We light the model from one side with a spotlight," said Tennent, who started a similar workshop several years ago in Mesa.

Tennent said she would be drawing, but possibly provide limited instruction during the model's breaks.

"Beginners can learn by watching other people," Tennent said. "People do help each other, so beginners will get their advice."

No one is allowed to give advice unless first asked, Tennent said. She will also enforce a rule to be quiet.

"You can't talk while you are drawing," Tennent said. "It takes full concentration."

Drawing a model forces accuracy, Tennent said.

"You can fudge on a tree or landscape, but if you're going to draw accurately, it takes a lot of practice," Tennent said.

"Many artists who do landscapes can come and brush up on their skills. You've got to keep drawing all your life."

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