This fall I've been taking a class called 'Vis Com 1: Dynamic Sketching' at the Concept Design Academy in Pasadena. It's challenging, but it's exactly what I was looking for in terms of a foundation-level art class. The hardest part is honestly the time commitment of the homework on top of having a full-time job (I've already missed a friend's birthday, a concert and a group outing), but I think I really needed something like this to make me buckle down and learn. The way things are going, I think by the end of the term I'll have learned as much as I would by myself in a year. The teacher and T.A. are absolutely outstanding, and my fellow classmates are really nice.
Here's some of the stuff they've assigned for homework - organic shapes with contours, dissections of those shapes, textures.
The basic goal of the course is getting you to recognize anything you see as a simple shape that you can start with - be able to describe the contours of the shape to show that you understand the form - and then refine from there with textures and lighting. From big and simple to small and detailed.
The 5 form relationships were a little difficult - trying to visually understand how the 5 simple shapes intersect with each other - but it's great practice.
I don't want to compare and contrast here - but here's an example of the same homework assignment from one of my classmates that I thought was really great. Isabella's WK 2 HW She's great at texturing, constrasting lights with darks and directing your eye to a focal point (all things I need to work on). Not to mention her 5 form relationship page is pretty epic and looks like an actual thing instead of just shapes all over the page...
For our first week of homework, we had to do a "How To" project - just to write and illustrate how to do something. Mine ended up being pretty Calvin and Hobbes inspired. (The pages of my actual sketchbook are square so it didn't totally fit on the scanner... but you get the idea.)
Here's another example of the How To project that I thought really hit the nail on the head, without even using words. Tim's How To
Yesterday we went to the Arboretum in Arcardia and drew lots of plants, which was fun... Plants are usually difficult for me, but this class is teaching me that you can draw anything, it's just a matter of breaking it down and organizing it in your mind. This week we have to draw more plants and do a plant-inspired, open-ended 'redesign' project... so wish me luck!