‘Switch off your brain and switch on your eyes’ is the message to drawing students at the Dar al Founoun art school. One of the fundamental lessons taught in the six-week beginners’ course is to draw what you actually see, rather than what you think you see. Sound wacky? It might seem so, especially in the first few classes.
As students sit round the paint-spattered table, the tutor, Sabrina Puppin-Lerch, incorporates some fairly unorthodox exercises to short circuit students’ brains. One of the most effective is copying a gradually revealed upside-down image. ‘Because they are copying a line at a time, they don’t know what they are drawing so it’s perfect,’ says Sabrina, who is also the art school’s director. ‘The minute they recognise what it is, they lose it.’
Dar al Founoun offers a comprehensive range of classes for adults and children, including silk painting, print making, ceramics, painting, art history and sculpture. Students come from all walks of life, and all have different reasons for taking the course. Like South African Su Koen, who is convinced she must have hidden talents; ‘My father is an architect, my mum can draw and my sister is an architect who draws. It must be in the blood.’ It’s not coming easily to her, though. ‘I love it, but I get so frustrated doing it,’ she says during the course’s trickiest session on perspective: drawing simple boxes from different points of view. ‘This is the most hated lesson in drawing,’ laughs Sabrina as her students sweat over their sketches.
Graphic designer Naveed Ahmad told Time Out Doha he’s enjoying getting the hang of different techniques. ‘It’s very exciting,’ he says. ‘Now I can shape the image in my head and my hand is able to draw what I really see.’ Pauline Roeffen from Holland, is taking the drawing class a second time. ‘I wasn’t grabbing it completely, that’s why I did it a second time,’ says Pauline, who teaches silk painting at the art school, but confesses to never having been able to draw anything very well. ‘I like experimenting with things, and drawing is very hard – but satisfying.’
She particularly enjoyed a class where Sabrina brought in some (very stylish) high-heeled shoes for students to draw. ‘When we had that shoe on the table, I ended up with a shoe that looked alright,’ she says, proudly leafing back to the page in her sketchbook. ‘So, I thought “yes!”.’
Interested in taking a course? Classes at all levels run in six-week blocks. For more information email Sabrina@waqifartcenter.com or call 519 3224.