A studio with a lot of heart

You already know how to draw, you just forgot

BRATTLEBORO — Jason Alden had a vision, in which he saw a quiet and focused space where he could communicate directly with adult students and share his love of art. A place with an art library that students could use for reference, and a place where veteran artists and those new to art could share and learn from one another.

Now that the first semester of drawing and color theory is behind him at The Drawing Studio on Williams Street, and Alden is preparing for the second semester of more classes, it is safe to say his vision has come to fruition. His new studio at the Whetstone Studio for the Arts perched along the Whetstone Brook is open and airy, with lots of light, conducive to concentrating on one's art.

Laura Bliss, who participates in the drop-in drawing class on Tuesday nights, said, "It is a magical, energetic space to draw. I love it because it is so peaceful. No music, no chatter, no clutter. Very calming and everyone is welcome. And I love the way he talks about art — with a lot of spirit."

Alden moved to Brattleboro from Boston 11 years ago after a visit to Brattleboro and loved it. He loved the generous responses from the residents and the changes in levels of geography. He felt at home immediately.

During his nine-year tenure at the River Gallery School, he earned a reputation for being an "awesome" teacher. Bliss, who took classes at RGS with Alden, said, "I love it (The Drawing Studio) as an option along with the River Gallery School."

Alden believes in getting back to basics. He helps his students understand a visual vocabulary: light, dark, shapes, lines and patterns and how they interact with each other regardless if it is a person or an object they are drawing. Each week the drop-in class of eight or nine forms a semi-circle and draws from a live model because drawing from life is a more natural process. He mixes it up weekly with a different subject matter, a musician one week, a mother and child another, or a nude the next.

Even though students are viewing the same subject, drawing is an active translation, interpreted uniquely by each student, so after the drawing session, Alden has them share their work and discuss it. Articulating impressions and thoughts takes fuzzy ideas and embeds the experience in the brain. And because there are all levels of skill in the class, practiced artists can help newbies solve an impasse and new artists can show a different approach to practiced artists who may be stuck on a style.

Greg Moschetti is fairly new to art. He took up drawing six years ago and painting four years ago. "Jason is a phenomenal teacher," he said. "He has a way of drawing out the positive without giving false compliments. His critiques are never mean or debilitating. He will pull out a book about a particular artist to enhance his instruction. It is very valuable. I am happy to see him open that studio and I have signed up for more classes for next couple of semesters."

Alden said Moschetti translates shapes in his figure drawings in a kind way — soft and generous. For Alden, the challenge was how to teach him to look at the drawing and see what it is asking for without making him lose that sensibility.

"Greg first perceived this as a mistake because of an internal critical voice, but the group helped him progress." In this open atmosphere, students learn to live with their "mistakes" and have an opportunity to make strides.

"Primarily drawing is based on experience, based on willingness. We are more intelligent than we think. Drawing can be remembered as a natural and creative response to life and our experience of what is around us is our first and best guide," Alden said.

Moschetti said he has become acquainted with other types of work in the classes, and the community Alden has created at the studio has introduced him to artists that he would not have met otherwise.

Color theory and color mixing are also taught. Alden wanted to include that in the training because it is part of the basics. By learning about light and dark, how to project cold or hot, and how to decode the colors you see in the world helps you translate not only when drawing but in painting.

Bliss said, "His instructions are clear and passionate, he keeps you moving along. I learned a lot about color even though I'm a photographer. It's about how all of the pieces relate to each other. Color pairing has helped me a lot to see a color." She added, "I also, love the fact you can ask about anything, he's very responsive. He has a library to show you what he means, he shows examples, and it is helpful. The studio has a lot of heart."

The winter semester at The Drawing Studio offers classes in color and composition, drawing principles, drawing from life, and the drop in session. All classes meet once a week, three hours for a 10-week semester. This includes instruction, model fee, and all materials except for drawing pads. A class enrollment also includes ongoing use of the art library which can be visited anytime the studio is open except during life drawing classes when there often will be a nude model. Limited scholarship/trade is available for those who need it.

There will be an open house at The Drawing Studio Thursday, Dec.14, from 4 to 7 p.m. The general public is invited to check out the facility, and ask Alden about the classes he is offering for the winter semester, or give Alden a call at 802-380-4997.

The studio is located at 28 Williams St., on the first floor, the white door nearest the brook. For more information about the studio and classes, visit vermontdrawingstudio.com.

Cicely M. Eastman may be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 261


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