Drawing Workshop in NYC: Gauging Interest

Short version:

I want to hold a three day (Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday afternoon) drawing workshop in NYC sometime in the next month. Would anyone be interested?

Longer version:

Several weeks ago, I put my Drawing Less Wrong sequence on hiatus while I worked on the Solstice project. I’m continuing with rational-culture development work, (there’s a mailing list for people interested in participating) but I want to return to the drawing sequence soon.

In the beginning, I didn’t spell out my intentions very well - Drawing Less Wrong wasn’t intended to be a set of comprehensive exercises, but rather an attempt to bridge a lot of inferential distance between how most people think of drawing and how you actually need to think in order to draw. I’d then discuss my previous workshops - what exercises I tried and how they worked out. I was also looking for existing drawing tutorials while I was writing the articles, and by the end I planned to have narrowed things down to some good recommendations.

But many people were (rightly) expecting drawing exercises to be a part of the series. It’s hard to learn abstract concepts without a concrete example to work with. This is even more true when the abstract concepts are explicitly about difficult-to-describe kinesthetic processes.

I know of a few drawing exercises that are well tested, and are definitely important to any artist who’s undertaking a 10,000 hour journey. But I don’t know which are best if you’re trying to show someone how to draw in 20 hours. There are certain rules of thumb that can help you improve quickly (like learning human proportion) but which can trap you into a drawing what you *think* you know, rather than what’s actually there.

Different exercises also work better for different people, and I just don’t have enough data to say confidently “you should do X.”

Previous workshops had also been rather spaced out (2-3 weeks apart). I was actually surprised that people seemed to retain the improvements from the previous workshops.

So before I return to the series, I’d like to a more intensive workshop, with more people. Three days in a row, with somewhere between 12-20 hours of work (I’ll be available the full 20 hours, but it may be a lot of time to commit for some people). Systematically try out different exercises and see how they work for people of different backgrounds.

This is still far from a formal experiment, but I’m hoping to find big enough effect sizes that I can confidently say “you should probably spend your first 8-20 hours focusing these X exercises.”

For those who CAN’T attend: one of the DLW readers went ahead and did some practice on their own . They sent me a mini-blog of their experiences, and gave permission to share it. Their progress seems like a fair representation of how the average person can expect to improve. (If your initial drawings are different from their initial drawings, you may try to approximate the difference in quality of their later and earlier work, and extrapolate that for your own starting position.)

7 comments, sorted by
magical algorithm
Highlighting new comments since Today at 5:12 PM
Select new highlight date
Moderation Guidelines: Norm Enforcing - I try to enforce particular rules (see below)expand_more

A few people have asked me recently about whether this ever happened and if it's likely to happen again.

I DID recently do a workshop for NYC Less Wrong folk (publicizing it on the NY list). I will probably be doing more, sporadically. However, I will probably not be approaching it with the level of rigor I'd need to really gain knowledge (testing different drawing and teaching techniques and seeing which are most effective), in a way that would make me feel justified about writing up the results on Less Wrong.

If you're in the NY area you should probably get on the NYC mailing list, because there's a lot of LW events going on that we don't publicize broadly. Future drawing workshops will be posted there.

Regardless, this website is a very good source for gesture drawing training:


In case this hasn't already happened, or might happen again, I'd also be interested.

Oh but that I could attend Mr. Raemon! Sadly, I live elsewhere on the continent and have no immediate intentions of leaving, no matter how fantastic and diverse the local LWers.

Would anyone be interested?

Yes. But what's the next step?

I'm not sure what you mean. (Wait a while for me to plan the event, and perhaps suggest weekends when you're available? And/or do exercises from existing drawing textbooks on your own in the meantime? Or did you mean after the workshop?)

Wait a while for me to plan the event

This answers what I meant, thanks.