Basic Drawing

Jan 2012

This class was definitely a mixed bag. On one hand, I'm pretty sure that most people who came into the class with some experience had a great time. Grayson was nice, funny, and encouraged us to push our creativity and style in whatever direction we chose. The second half of the semester was focused mainly on developing independent projects of whatever ilk we liked. One kid parodied Italian Renaissance saint portraiture by including lemurs crawling on the saints, another girl drew a bunch of body parts in great detail, including a horrifyingly accurate penis, and another student drew a series of abstracted self-portraits. In other words, we were given a *lot* of freedom. That said, the class was lacking in actual teaching. A few of the classes focused on specific topics, like drawing in perspective and figure drawing, but beyond short introductions or demos, teaching consisted of words of encouragement that weren't really helpful. During critiques, Grayson would open up discussion to the students, then would occasionally sprinkle in soft constructive criticism along with positive reviews, whereas the TA, Lauren Silva, would usually be more honest and harsh about the quality of a piece. Things got awkward when they critiqued poor drawings, because they didn't want to be mean, but they didn't have much good to say -- which meant nothing much was said at all. All in all, I think the quality of the class depended on who you were. The students who had never taken drawing classes before clearly struggled (some dropped the class late in the semester, probably out of frustration), whereas those who entered the class with some experience were able to use their already-acquired skills to push their creativity and expression. More focus on the techniques behind drawing would have been helpful, especially for those with little experience. In other words, it seemed to me more what a Drawing II class should have been. Just as a side-note, he mentioned that he also taught at Pratt, and I could never shake the feeling that we were his "just for fun" class that he didn't take too seriously. The grading (many students got an A+, and I would be surprised if anyone received below an A-) seems a reflection of that.

Jan 2011

Natlie's great! This class was not too too demanding, we had a project due every Monday. I feel like as a teacher she is young, in terms of learning how to really inspire artistic expression discussion, but definitely getting there. She's on the road to becoming a wonderful professor I think. I had a lot of fun, and I felt like the class was worth my time. We took cool museum visits, and had cool assignments like "draw an interior space using the furniture and works of art you see today" and we were basically sent to roam the exhibit. As someone who's interested in art, I found that the free range she offered was very much appreciated. Also she sent out emails every week of cool images that related to what we were studying. You get in what you put in with this class, and very approachable for all levels of artists. Overall a good experience, I would recommend her.

Apr 2010

Your experience in this class really depends on what you are looking for in an art class. If you are looking for a disciplined, systematic class to help you master the basics, then you may be disappointed taking drawing with Abby. Same goes for anyone who expects the typical line->negative space->perspective->shading-> figure progression that normally accompanies a drawing class. You will not get lectures on theory or drilling of technique. While we did cover most of the normal elements discussed in a drawing class, it was done in a non-systematic, slightly disorganized way. Several of my classmates expressed a sneaking suspicion (despite having taught the class before) that she was making everything up as she went along. These above qualities, however, are not necessarily negatives. Her sometimes-unconventional class activities and homework assignments were often quite entertaining (sample assignments include drawing "the worst drawing ever," sketching a storyboard to an imagined music video for a song of our choice, artistic responses to a selection of youtube videos, producing abstractions of classic paintings, etc). On the other hand, there were also quite a few in-class activities that had us shaking our heads in mild confusion. We had "field trips" where we drew outside, various places on campus, and the MoMA. The class environment itself was relatively friendly and laid-back, and the "critiques" very rarely involved criticism but rather focused on commentary. I found Abby to be incredibly entertaining and endearing (which makes it hard for me to write anything negative about her). She often had the class laughing with her funny stories, unconventional ideas and almost larger-than-life persona. It is obvious that her personal style of art is more focused on creative expression and process rather than painstaking realism, but she was generally accepting of students' individual styles. While absolutely not a pushover, was generally receptive to student ideas and suggestions regarding future assignments and class progression. I personally enjoyed the class very much, but take that with a grain of salt as I suspect that some others in the class had differing opinions. So really, it all depends on your outlook/expectations.

Dec 2009

Basically a good basic drawing class. Not much more to ask for. A lot of her assignments are really vague and she could work a lot more on giving students direction, but effectiveness can't be argued. Many of the students were significantly better going out than they had been coming in. There's a lot of fundamentals she doesn't bother to really talk about, and she prefer just throwing things at you, telling you to draw, and then giving you a couple pointers when something is off in your drawing--however, this sort of approach doesn't always help students grasp how they should be going about some of the fundamentals (form, line, etc.). She's a lot more about art for the sake of art than trying to get towards technical prowess, which works for some people and doesn't for others. This is one of those courses that's really just whatever you make of it.

Dec 2009

Matt is an incredible teacher. I've taken plenty of mind-numbing Basic Drawing classes through the years and I was dreading being forced to take one more. Luckily, Matt's class in nothing like your typical "draw the shoe 60 times and let me suck out any personal identity you have as an artist while I'm at it" intro course. He teaches a broad range of mediums, and encourages students to push themselves out of their comfort zone. For some people that means teaching them to draw to life, for some it means trying new media, and for others it means encouraging them to break away from realism. He actually looks at the individual student and where they are in their development as an artist. Granted, if you want a class to simply teach you to draw a pretty still life or portrait, then someone else's class is probably a better choice. But Matt is an working artist and he will teach you to approach art as a working artist would--you will learn technique but you will also learn how to think and talk about art. Note: Syllabus is very flexible, and the class included both fieldtrips to other galleries (MoMA and Chelsea) as well as visits and lectures by current artists.

Nov 2009

Danny Balgley walks into the first Basic Drawing class and you think, Oh, he must be sweet and adorable, because look how hobbitish he looks! And so you take the class, thinking it can't be all that bad. Unfortunately, Danny is not at all like a stoic hobbit; instead he seems more like a prepubescent teenage girl. He gushes over certain shows he's been watching recently in the mornings, and exhibits mood swings faster than you can say PMS. He does not seem to have the thick skin to take students questioning his artistic judgments in a class about seeing, so never comment if you don't see it the way he does - your comment will not be heard - rather, he'll hear someone undermining his authority, and possibly say something nasty in response, or, worse, send you an email telling you not to take further art classes. Not particularly encouraging. He also forces you out of your chair to personally edit your work, which does not lend to improvement in the class setting, once again in a class about seeing. Nor was his technique, during critique, of having fellow students vote on what they thought was your best work altogether helpful, particularly when it was followed with, "Keep doing that" rather than strong qualitative analysis. Because the emphasis is on how Danny sees it, there's little building of personal style or mark making, and so when you get to critique, there's really not much to discuss; suffice to say, critique was hardly helpful and often condescending. Danny also appears to pick certain students as favorites based on talent, which is problematic in a class where not all students enter with previous practice. Also, if you consider the "voting process" critique in addition to the totalitarian viewpoint, one wonders if Danny realizes the inherent problems of this process in an art world where minority views have been traditionally ignored by the larger market, and additionally the problem of making art that just caters to your audience rather than actually doing what you want to do. If you are looking for an art class where your opinions are not valued and your mistakes will be fixed for you, take this class. But if you're actually looking to improve your drawing skills and be treated like an adult, you'd be better off looking elsewhere.

Oct 2009

Matt Keegan is a fascinating artist and a pretty cool guy. It's true that this basic drawing class is not quite as traditional as one might expect, but I found this to be much more of an asset than not. He encourages his students to play with art and try new styles and mediums. The artist that walks into the classroom on the first day will not be the same artist who walks out even a week later. I would highly recommend this class to an artist at any level. I'm very glad not to have opted to pass out of it.

Feb 2009

Danny is a great teacher. He really focuses on drawing from observation or “direct perception” as he calls it. The lessons really instruct and teach drawing unlike some other classes where the teachers are laid back and lazy. He gave me an A and I found his class to be one of the better art class offerings at Columbia.

Jan 2009

Josephine in my all-time favorite professor at Columbia. She's absolutely great! She is really understanding and willing to acknowledge each student's talents and listen to each and every idea. She passionately loves art! I was a little freaked to take Basic Drawing, seeing as I had never professionally put a pencil to a paper, nor knew the difference between 9B and HB pencils. But it was fine! I learned as I went along. We started with simple contour lines and then built up from there to shading and other tools of the trade. She really helps and knows what she's talking about. She brought in books, took us to Avery and the Met and the Museum of Natural History for inspiration. Also, she's the real deal. She had a gallery featuring her paintings! They're incredible! Google her and then take a course with her. You'll be happy you did.

Sep 2008

Ana is obviously very smart and believes in what she teaches. Almost everything she says is valuable in some way, whether you agree with her assessment or not-she's very good with critiques. But she lets her own tastes rule and can sometimes come up with a pretty big load of crap about a pretty crappy piece of art. She's a good instructor for teaching you about your personal taste because of that, though. A class worth taking, and definitely definitely look up her artwork because it enhances the classroom experience like you wouldn't believe.

Apr 2008

Easily the worst art class I've ever taken. He gave me a C+ and no grades were given before the final to suggest that I was doing poorly or otherwise. All I have to say is that you better not have much of a creative opinion. I'd also recommend not surrendering your chair to him unless you're prepared to have your work massacred. He'd rather draw all over your stuff and then erase it if he messes up than demo on a separate sheet of paper.

Jan 2008

Bennet is one of the best teachers I have ever had. He has great ideas for how to teach drawing - he teaches you how to see people/objects in space using extremely innovative methods. He also teaches you interesting and exciting new drawing techniques that you will have for life. He plays music in class to establish an atmosphere of different energy levels - depending on the day's projects - that helps build conducive and fun atmospheres to work in. He is also just a really nice guy and a lot of fun to be around.

Sep 2007

I don't know if Ana Garces is even an artist in real life. Sure, she dresses like she's straight out of Greenwich Village, wears thick-rimmed Trelawney glasses, and seems to know her stuff, but we only ever saw art samples from past students rather than any of her own. Honestly, her suggestions were often helpful and she did attempt to aid students in building specific techniques that would improve the overall effectiveness of their drawings. However, it immediately becomes clear that she is much more attracted to the psuedo-abstract, meaningless junk that the more confused students of the bunch spit onto paper and pass off as masterpieces. If you're more straightforward or you actually know what you drew, it might be a good idea to wait for another section or just cling to the TA. She also makes a point of trying to explain to you what you meant in your art and what you say about it is irrelevant. Grading is based more on progress(which means telling lots of lies,lies,lies) and being abstract (but not ironic, I think she hates that), rather than actual drawing ability. Overall, it's not a total waste of 2 and a half hours, but it made kill your actual enjoyment of art.

May 2007

Noah Fischer's basic drawing class is awesome. It is a lot of work but you definitely get as much out of it as you put in. This is a great class for learning or improving drawing no matter what your level. This class definitely gave me a better appreciation for art as well. About four weeks of the class is devoted to figure drawing from live models. Several classes are taken by discussions with guest artists and trips to museums/galleries. There is a lot of freedom in the class, especially later on, for experimenting with abstraction, materials, and style. The early classes are much more guided to train the student in seeing what is there and putting it on paper. Great class.

May 2007

Matt Keegan is a prime example of the CRIMINALLY BAD ART TEACHER! This was a BASIC DRAWING CLASS, and for the second project, he had students create a COLLAGE. I cannot understand the justification for this. The course title "Basic Drawing" implies that the student will be taught how to DRAW, not be instructed to cut pretty pictures out of magazines and stick them onto a sketchpad. Keegan offered absolutely NO teaching of drawing to students WHATSOEVER, and his attitude toward evaluation of work is "I'm ok, you're ok." Any work made by students, good or bad, was received equally by Keegan. This attitude does absolutely NOTHING for the student. Since he seems so afraid to teach, he should be BARRED from doing so. I am not at Columbia to waste my money to be told that my drawings are fine. I want to have the strengths and weaknesses in technique pointed out to me, and I expect the instuctor to offer insight into how I can improve my technique. I took basic drawing to LEARN HOW TO DRAW, and I am really irritataed that I received absolutely no instruction on this at ALL. I was not even given pointers on how to approach the aesthetic problems that arise in basic drawing. By far, the biggest waste of my time and money at Columbia.

Dec 2006

I don't know what class with Armacost was like a year ago, but I think the other reviews are too hard on him. Patrick is very laid-back, yes, but he's also talented, energetic, and hilariously funny. He inspired a great rapport in our class, leading us all in discussions of what the term "synesthesia" meant and picking out esoteric nicknames for everyone (e.g. "Speech Unit"). His assignments were open-ended, but if you asked him for help, he was always ready to offer it. If you take an especially competitive, intense, or academic approach to drawing, you might not like Armacost. But then again, if you do all that, why are you taking Basic Drawing? He's lots of fun. The class was a great break for me.

Sep 2006

It's true that Patrick Armacost seems like a nice enough guy, but it's also true that he is not well suited to teach a drawing class. For one, he had trouble remembering the difference between hard and soft pencils....and when describing any type of drawing instrument, concluded with "uhhh, I think." Basically it was hard to take him seriously, as it seemed like he had no idea what the heck he was talking about. The other students in the classroom were giggling at him, as if they didn't think this guy was for real either. I sat in on the first class and then dropped it for a different one.

Jan 2006

I can't tell you how meaningful this class was to me. During a time when I was having serious doubts about college, it was something I could look forward to and helped me enjoy my life a little bit more. Molly is simply the warmest and kindest girl you could hope to meet and classes were probing and cheerful, not to mentiont the killer mixtapes she made to play during class. Field trips were always fun and helped to make the classmembers enjoy eachother. The times we met in her apartment were blissful and the food was scrumptious. Though I can't say my drawing abilities were greatly altered (i dont think any class can truly do this) I do now put a great deal more thought into my use of lines and movement and the varied textures I can create. Do what you can to take a class with Molly, shes a real gem.

Dec 2005

Molly Smith is a goddess. Her teaching style is free and encouraging, her personality is warm and inviting, and her own art is wonderful to appreciate. This class was my favorite this semester, and for good reason. She helped guide each individual to develop his or her own style and welcomed any sort of experimentation. The field trips were to some great and hidden places that were wonderful introductions to drawing in the professional art world. The class even met twice at her apartment, milk and cookies provided, creating a really close class bond. Highly recommended.

Dec 2005

Pretty good, pretty much what you're expecting in an intro to art class. Easy to get in touch with and responsive, if a bit difficult to deal with sometimes. Has some excellent work if you go to her studio, so give her a shot. Classwork can get so theoretical that you want to die, though.

Dec 2004

Hilary is awesome. She's funny and fun and flexible and supportive and helpful. I learned a lot not only about drawing but perception and letting go of self consciousness and letting everything just flow. Great class and I had no prior experience. I definitely saw myself improve and she's very honest in her criticisms.

Dec 2004

Pier is fabulous. He's such an entertaining guy, and he makes class a ton of fun. I'd never taken a visual arts class before this one, and now I'm hooked. He starts really compelling discussions sometimes, and has really neat projects/assignments. There is a lot of figure drawing, which is really helpful and hard to find elsewhere. He's a really chill teacher, and, like any art teacher, is a little bit crazy, but in a great way. He likes to encourage his students to explore both their left and right brains in the drawing, which is where the doodling aspect mentioned in other reviews comes in. If he feels you're strong enough with figure drawing (usually for those who have more experience), then he will encourage you to doodle for the last number of classes. Really interesting things came out of this, and it was cool to see. His critiques are somewhat silly, but they're entertaining, and there's definitely a lot of value in everyone hanging up their work for the rest of the class to see. This class definitely helped me learn a lot about drawing, and to develop a style of my own. Pier is very supportive, but my only critique of him and the class is that you will never know what you're getting in the class until it shows up on your grade report at the end -- as much as he loves you and you finish all your work on time, you're not guaranteed an A. I really don't know how he grades, but it seems generally fair, with a few flaws.

Nov 2004

Pat is an okay guy, funny and smart. But not a great instructor. He's really flexible and interested, but does not offer a helluva lot in the way of guidance or assisstance. For a "basics" class you get a lot of freedom and not as much instruction as one may want. In other words it would have been nice to learn some ways and techniques of drawing instead of just having time to put pencil to paper.

Dec 2003

It didn't surprise me to find out this was Heather's first semester teaching (fall '03); she's pretty timid, which was unfortunate when we did class critiques, which weren't very useful since most of the class refused to comment on anything. If you need someone who will hold your hand and tell you what to do to improve, find someone else. Nevertheless, for sheer time spent in the class (5 hours a week) and on homework, I made great progress. Being a great artist when you begin is NOT necessary-- the class didn't teach me anything I didn't do in Drawing 2 in high school. It's pretty basic material: line, texture, light, form, perspective, still-life, charcoal, pencil, ink. Bonus: nude models! Be warned-- it does cost a lot of money for supplies (maybe $70) --but you don't have to buy everything they recommend.

Dec 2003

Stuart's method of teaching initially feels confusing but if properly and patiently approached is more rewarding than that of perhaps any teacher I have ever had.

Jun 2003

Banks is a great guy. He recognizes that most of his basic drawing class is composed of people taking the class for fun or to satisfy a requirement and adjusts his teaching style accordingly. I went in terrified that I wouldn't be a good artist, that I'd be embarrassed evey day of class, and that it would be a thoroughly unpleasant and humiliating experience. Banks' laid-back style, however, creates a relaxed and stress-free atmosphere in which people to feel enough confidence in their abilties that they can concentrate on improving their skills rather than stressing out about how few skills they may actually have. All in all, this class is a great experience, especially for a beginning artist.

Jun 2003

While its true that Pier's critiques are basically useless (he thinks all of western art history can be summed up in the terms 'presence' and 'absence') the critiques are only the last 15 minutes of class. He is the only basic drawing teacher who focuses on figure drawing- which is terrific and really improves your skills. While his end of class critiques are useless, if you ask for help during class he gives good guidance. If he doesnt say anything about your drawing in class, ask him afterwards- it can be very worthwhile, especially because he'll skip most of that presence/absence junk. Unfortunately, he spends the last few weeks of the class asking you to doodle- an exercise he thinks will let out your id (see above for pier's relationship to freud)- which is just annoying and useless. Overall he is amusing, and you will improve your drawing- even if its more from the classroom environment than from his instruction. Its worth taking the class just for the figure drawing.

May 2003

He's a decent teacher, helpful mainly with the figure drawing, but most of what you will learn will come from simply drawing for 5 hours a week in class. His critiques are laughable. He focuses on about 3 abstract terms and judges all art on the basis of these-you will understand the relevance of none of them. His taste in art is absurd. He obsesses over awful drawings for some obscure reason and grazes over masterpieces with relative disinterest. He was also raised by Freud; everything is sexual reference in his eyes.

Jan 2003

i get the sense that he knows a lot about art and drawing but he has a hard time conveying his knowledge to his students. hes usually pretty quiet and class time is mostly spent drawing. we didnt spend nearly enough time critiquing our work, and when we did colin would never really criticize our work...he was a little too nice. he doesnt give grades so i was pretty much in the dark about what my grade was going to be... all in all i think that colin would be a good professor for someone who had never taken any type of drawing course ever, if you have taken a drawing course you should opt for someone else.

Dec 2002

Colin is kinda quiet, but has lots of good advice to give. Artistic criticism can be tough, but Colin pulls the tough love thing off well. He always knows what direction to point you in to pull your piece together and he always encourages you to be bold and creative. All in all, an excellent class. I actually feel like a real artist now. Who would've guessed?

Jun 2002

"I don't know how to draw." This is what "Banks" said to his students the first day of class. As a result, the semester long class was him experiementing with ways to teach a class he was not really prepared enough for. He's a nice guy, the projects are okay, but don't expect too much. You're unlikely to be enlightened, but you will learn somewhat because you do spend hours in class and at home doing projects. If you're self motivated, then you will get a lot more out of it, but if you are not really an art person then don't take it, beause you will only be bored. Not a great class, but neither is it bad. Just "eh nothing special."

Apr 2002

Jason is a sweet heart. He is very easygoing and would be so much fun to hangout with having deep conversations over almost any topic. At first I found him uninspiring and lazy, but after a few weeks into the course, I found this a wonderful 'anything goes' theme that allowed me to experiment with the assignment as I needed or wanted and through this I found my own style, which was one of the goals of the class.

Apr 2002

Take George's class! Fun, relaxed, and extremely helpful, George allowed everyone in the class to reach their fullest potential, even those scared that they "couldn't draw." He is a master at constructive criticism(he's entertaining when he critiques, just ignore it when he occasionally finds sexual innuendo), and he further inspires by connecting your work with past and present art masters. So, enjoy George, be yourself, and enjoy art to the fullest!

Jan 2002

At first you might think that you got the wrong professor, because the work load that he gives you is much larger than other professors such as as Stuart Diamond. However, in my class, there were lots of people who absolutely loved doing the work out of their own will, which I think it's great. Generally, I think George is a great professor to have. I think he really respects your individuality and tries to see things much more beyond technique in your drawings. However, of course, technique is also accounted for. I think overall he is really a cool guy and although the work might be a little more than other classes, you will not regret it and enjoy his class very much.

Apr 2001

The best course I've taken at Columbia - no shit. Archie lets you explore your desires while giving you the tools to fullfill them. Once you take a course with him the way you view life changes. You are no longer a student but realize that you're an artist. And you will be - MANY PEOPLE GET GALLERY SHOWS WITH HIM! Highly recommended.

Apr 2001

Be warned: this is no easy class. Possibly the most rewarding, though, depending on the amount of time and effort you decide to invest. Archie demystifies the practice of art and makes you believe that you are, indeed, an artist, majors and non-majors alike. That is because once you take this class, you are! The strange thing about it is that, somehow, he teaches without instructing. That is, he won't tell you what to do or how to do it; he simply gives you the basic tools--and the freedom--to develop your own style. Grades are not based on talent or aesthetic, but on "courage and commitment." He has a scary way of knowing if you're blowing things off--so don't do it. He is also a great storyteller. Cheesy as it may sound, you'll learn a lot--not only about art, but about life.

Jan 2000

Repetition can lead to break throughs and innovation, he seems skilled at getting even the most resistant students to try something new by making everyone so frustrated with drawing the same still life over and over again. At times the class could feel like it was dragging, but sometimes something would come out that would be suprising. Diamond is a little to consumed with his own artistic critic, and his words can sound a little superfoulous during review, but he has a keen eye and can point out flaws that can only lead to you drawing a better piece.