Courses & Workshops: Five questions with artist Duncan Newman

Duncan Newman is a Toronto-based artist who graduated from OCAD University with a degree in integrated media and a minor in drawing and painting. His time at OCAD also included participating in four months of the Florence programme, where he was steeped in European culture, and influenced by the works of the Old Masters. Since graduating, Duncan has maintained his drawing under the tutelage of his grandfather and has embraced a rigorous studio practice. This winter he is looking forward to beginning his studies at Humber College, where he will expand his skills and become a trained cabinet maker. Here at Courses & Workshops, Duncan teaches two drawing courses:  Intro to Drawing and Intermediate Drawing.

Duncan, you have a very diverse background and interests! How would you describe your own evolving identity as an artist?  What are you most passionate about or interested in?

I would describe my evolution as an artist as circular. I began drawing as a child, continued to draw throughout high school, then in university decided to delve into stop-motion animation while still drawing, and by the time I finished university, I found I was just really interested in drawing.

I am passionate about human experience, and conveying that experience through representational means using both conscious and unconscious metaphors. I think that type of intuitive approach has more implicit meaning under all the explicit meaning.

How does drawing influence your work in other mediums?

Drawing takes an understanding of abstract patterns and composition as well as a deep understanding of form and rendering. When I am painting, my drawing skills become the foundation of structure, especially when it comes to form. There is a reason why Degas spent many years (I believe 12) almost exclusively drawing, and that is because it is a good foundation. Oddly enough, I also have found my stop-motion animation work carries a certain focus to it, which I believe is influenced by my drawing practice.

What do you like most about teaching?

I enjoy the one-on-one contact with people. Each student is unique, and presents their own specific challenges, which I enjoy taking on. I would also like to think that I make a difference to my students and bring more meaning to the idea of what drawing is to them.

What do you hope participants walk away from your courses understanding or thinking about?

I would like to think my students walk away with the understanding that drawing is about perception, and that the act of drawing is the expression of that perception; the perception itself can be improved, but the expression is the really important thing.

What advice would you give to people who are trying drawing for the first time?

I would probably say a lot of things, but the most common advice at the beginning is to loosen up, because most people tend to think drawing is about scratching in every detail, and sometimes it is, but not when you are starting. Some people start very loose, but that is rare, in which case it is a matter of slowing them down a little, so they can absorb the subtleties a little more.

Want to join one of Duncan’s classes?  Duncan will be teaching Intro to Drawing, beginning Jan. 22 and Intermediate Drawing, beginning Jan. 23 (both six weeks, $180 each).  For more information or to register, visit our website or call 416.973.4093.