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Associate Professor Gary Geraths on Drawing

May 3, 2012
Spotlight Category: Faculty
Gary Geraths 
Associate Professor, Foundation
Geraths has been teaching drawing to first-year students for twenty years. More than 140,000 YouTube viewers have learned from his how-to videos.  He received a BFA (Drawing and Painting) from CSU Long Beach, and MFA (Drawing and Painting) from Claremont Graduate Univ. He works as a figurative draughtsman, representational painter, and courtroom artist, and as a consultant for clients such as Disney, Mattel, and Sony. He is the author/illustrator of Drawing Animals.
Life drawing can be intimidating, starting with the disrobed human standing in front of you. The model is another human, not a still life. I want break down barriers for my students, create access and a safety zone. There is a duality involved in teaching life drawing. It is both intuitive and analytical – an angel on one shoulder and the devil on another. In drawing from the figure, you can screw up an elbow and no one ever knows, but you drop an eye a quarter of an inch and you’ve created a science experiment
Drawing in the natural environment allows me to see the wonderment of everything. It’s a leisurely examination of the world. Whether I’m sitting on the edge of a cliff or drawing for a class, it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to have that expansive time to take something apart and put it back together again (through drawing). You can transcend the moment, and then look back at it.
One of my favorite sketching trips was to Tibet for two months in the summer of 2010 with George Fuentes (’06). We were both drawing constantly. We planned a Pilgrim’s journey, not a tourist route, and we visited many monasteries. We sketched everywhere, and everywhere we went, we drew crowds — 20 to 30 people — very strange when you are sitting on the edge of a 2,000’ cliff, 16 or 17,000’ up in the Himalayas. Our guide told us that portrait drawing astonished Tibetans because it is not part of their culture. We gave drawing lessons, since it is a friendly and universal thing. The emotions created by our interactions really brought home to me the power of creating images. Half way across the world, we were communicating, connecting without language.