November 14, 2009

Balgley, Danny
Basic Drawing

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

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.

Workload:

There's usually a homework assignment for each class, and like most art classes, attendance is required as this is where you will do the majority of your work. Portfolio review at the end of the semester. Grading seems somewhat easy, but may possibly be arbitrary due to Danny's omnipotent mood swings.