Two students, Nelly and Margarita, study leaves on their second day of drawing lessons.

Nelly and Margarita(right) and Rossi (left) study leaves on their second day of drawing lessons.

“If I had my life to live over again, I would elect to be a trader of goods rather than a student of science. I think barter is a noble thing.” – Albert Einstein

Last Wednesday and Thursday I walked to nearby La Division to give drawing lessons.   When asked what I would charge, I said, “One dollar per class, but you don’t have to pay with a dollar.  You can pay with eggs or plantains or lemons or yucca, etc.” Many people do not appreciate something that’s free – they don’t show up or they talk during the class, and there had to be some sort of exchange.   I supplied the pencils and drawing pads, and they could pay me however they’d like and whenever they’d like.


P7240277 la division class On the first day, I pointed out that a pencil and paper cost very little money, and the pencil could be a good friend to them. They could pull out the pencil and practice while waiting on the bus or an appointment.  They only needed the discipline to practice and they would improve each day.  If they wanted to paint well, they should first master drawing and shading.

(*They were bashful and self conscious on the first day, and the camera would have distracted them.   These images are from the second day of drawing.)

P7240283 la division class

They learned that a strong drawing usually has light, medium and dark tones, and they learned to start with a light sketch and work to the darks.  They also learned to LOOK at what they were drawing and not drawing without observing.

P7240277 la division class

As with most of my classes, I refrained from giving out erasers, but Nelly sneaked one to the table.  Immediately the others reached for the eraser.   I showed them one of my drawings in progress and pointed out the light pencil marks; I rarely use an eraser – the drawing stays fresh, and light marks soon vanish beneath the shading.

P7240276 la division class

After drawing circles and spirals and shading light to dark then dark to light, they drew and shaded cylinders.  After cylinders, they attempted to draw a tree from life.   (They did well!) They next drew a white sea shell and watched as it magically ‘popped’ when they applied the dark background around it.

P7240270 la division class hands

They focused on leaves the second day, and wow, my students leaped forward with few qualms!  I was so proud of them, and they were proud as well!

Are you curious about my payments?  I returned home with four eggs, three ripe plantains, three small papayas,  a large sack of powdered vitamin-fortified orange-flavored drink mix. (No aspartame!)   Nelly also insisted on feeding me lunch each day!  One person paid me with two one-dollar coins, and I joked, “What? Money?  No eggs?”

P7240275 la division class

The powdered drink mix is in the foreground!

Almost two days have passed since I began this post, and I’ve not been able to fully open the “New Post” page. If it doesn’t load 100 percent, it’s totally useless… The tired mini laptop is struggling as well, the battery is weary, and I fear that I’m about to be offline unless I’m in town at a cybercafe…

If Z becomes unusually silent, you’ll know why!