Next week, experienced artists and people who can barely draw a straight line will study under the guidance of renowned artists and art professors. Ruskin is hosting more than 60 workshops as part of the Big Draw, an international monthlong celebration of drawing. Classes are targeted toward every age and ability, and most are free.
The Big Draw started in England nine years ago, and this year it's hitting New York City, Australia, Nigeria, Brazil and Ruskin. Community leaders launched what they hope will become an annual event because the Big Draw was started by the charity of the town's namesake, 17th century writer and artist John Ruskin.
From Monday until Oct. 11, groups of children, teens, adults and seniors will fill a donated 7,000-square-foot workshop along U.S. 41. One class has already started. Artist Michael Parker is teaching a group of teenagers drawing and painting techniques before they take their brushes to the concrete block wall of the former Clark's Furniture store in Ruskin.
On Sept. 4, seven teens gathered at the Big Draw Studio to practice drawing and mixing paint. The teens are chatty until they start drawing a design they each have on a 4- by 3-inch paper onto a much larger board.
Many become quiet in concentration — there's lots of subtle details. It's good practice because that's how they're going to get their design on the giant wall.
"It doesn't have to be perfect," Parker tells them.
But some of the teens are perfectionists, taking their time and slowly drawing every detail. Two girls have some experience, and they quickly move on to mixing paints. Others gab while slowly working.
"Is there anything cool in Ruskin?" asks Parker, who moved from Montana for this project.
"Yes!" yells one girl, the only Ruskin native in the room.
"No!" counters Dina Villalba, 14. "This is the highlight of my Ruskin life."
Dina loves art. Each day at Lennard High School, she waits for eighth- period art class. "It's the best class," she said.
Her teacher encouraged her to join the mural project, and she's glad she did. It's a little scary, she said, because she doesn't want to make mistakes on the public project. But she'll be proud to say she was a part of it.
"When you're going down to Sweetbay, you can say, 'Hey, I did that,' " she said. "I think it will be cool to make Ruskin beautiful."
Ruskin's Big Draw is sponsored by the South Shore Arts Council and largely led by arts power-couple Bruce Marsh and Dolores Coe of Ruskin. They've brought in dozens of their artist friends, many who teach at the Ringling College of Art and Design, USF and Eckerd College.
The Big Draw will end with a daylong event Oct. 11 at the former Clark's Furniture store, where the new mural will be the backdrop. There will be a showcase of the work done at the Big Draw, as well as work done by local artists. Planners are hoping for drawing projects, food and music, too.
It's part of a huge weekend for the arts in the South Shore area, said Fred Jacobsen, a member of the South Shore Arts Council.
On the evening of Oct. 11, Ruskin honorary mayor candidate John Smith is hosting a music festival at the South Shore Community Events Center in Apollo Beach. The next day, the Arts Council is hosting the Arts Frolic, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., where artists' work will be on display at several stops in Ruskin and Apollo Beach. Then at 4:30 p.m., the Florida Orchestra is playing at E.G. Simmons Park for free.
"Ruskin is beautiful, and Sun City Center has just an incredible wealth of talent," Jacobsen said. "It's a very vibrant area."
Dee Hood | Ruskin
Painter, sculptor, video artist and installation artist
Professor at Ringling College of Art and Design
Her installation, Transients 2001, was featured in the Tampa Museum of Art's underCURRENT/overVIEW7 exhibit.
Workshops she's leading:
Teen Draw, Sept. 24, 6:30-8 p.m., tickets distributed starting at 5:30 p.m. at the South Shore Regional Library, for ages 12-18. Participants will cut up and draw in novels provided by the library. "You get to do everything to a book that you've always wanted to do but couldn't," Hood said.
Drawing in Space, Sept. 27, 1-4 p.m., at the Big Draw Studio, for ages 12-18. Participants will create a 3-D work with paper, yarn and wire.
Michael Parker | Ruskin
Six of his acrylic paintings were recently displayed in the Tampa Museum of Art. He's led two mural projects in Sulphur Springs.
Project he's leading:
Community mural: The mural project on the former Clark's Furniture store in Ruskin. He's hosting workshops for teens on Thursdays, Fridays (5:30-7:30 p.m.) and Saturdays (1-5 p.m.), and he plans to start painting with the teens at the end of the month.
Rebecca Sexton Larson | Tampa
Mixed media photographer, Tampa's 2005 photographer laureate
Workshop she's leading:
Sunprints — Drawing with Light: Sept. 20, 9 a.m.-noon, at the Big Draw Studio, for children and teens age 9 and older. Participants will make sunprints, which are photographs made without cameras. They'll create mixed-media pieces by drawing on their photographs.
Kirk Ke Wang | Tampa
Painter, mixed media artist and Eckerd College professor
His exhibit "Language of Heart" was recently shown at Eckerd College. He has also exhibited in China.
Class he's teaching:
Drawing with Mind, Oct. 2, 1-4 p.m., at the Big Draw Studio, for ages 15 and older. Participants will explore traditional concepts of simplicity using Chinese art forms, which will be combined with contemporary forms. Traditional materials of Chinese or Japanese inks and bamboo brushes will be demonstrated and used.
Dolores Coe | Ruskin
Former professor at Ringling College of Art and Design
About two dozen paintings by her are on display at Clayton Galleries in Tampa.
Classes she's teaching with her husband, artist Bruce Marsh:
Draw to See — Beginning Drawing Studio: Mondays, Sept. 15-Oct. 6, 10 a.m.-noon, at the Big Draw Studio. It's a refresher course for experienced artists and a jump-start for beginners.
The Big Draw — Drawing Club: Wednesdays, Sept. 24-Oct. 8, 3-4 p.m., at the Big Draw Studio, for ages 6 to 9. Kids will draw, meet artists and make a sketchbook.
The Big Draw — Draw-a-thons: Wednesdays, Sept. 24-Oct. 8, at the Big Draw Studio, for ages 10-12. Children will get to experiment with different ways of drawing.
Workshop she's leading:
Drawing Blitz: Sept. 25, 6-9 p.m., at the Big Draw Studio. Participants will work with small- and large-scale exercises, learning techniques based on combining different styles and media.
Bruce Marsh | Ruskin
Professor emeritus at USF
About two dozen landscape paintings by him are on display in an exhibition called "Double Takes" at Clayton Galleries in Tampa.
Workshop he's leading:
Illusions — A Simple Introduction to Perspective Drawing, Sept. 18, 6-9 p.m., at the Big Draw Studio. It's an introduction to an intuitive approach to drawing from imagination and observation.