Dec 182010

The Dynamo of Letting Go
Patricia Reimer whips up a portrait of drawing teacher, Ron Curran

There’s a certain quality about Ron Curran that is hard to define yet pervades his way of talking, moving and relating to people. It’s a vibrancy that shows in his inability to stand still and an energy that comes through in his passion for his work. In a word, it’s dynamic.

Whoever thought up the name for the art classes he has been offering for ten years around the Shire did not have to think too hard to come up with Dynamic Drawing. ‘I’m trying to coach people to let go because there’s a lot of inhibitions, I’m trying to say, let’s clear that out and start drawing and it turns into a point where a momentum starts happening,’ he said. ‘It’s okay to bring your expressions forward and say this is how I do it, we’re not looking for prototypes, what’s important is whether or not the work you’re doing has that integrity. I can provide a facility and conditions where you can do that.’
One of his students defines his way of talking as ‘Ronspeak’, a kind of prattle that goes on in the background as she draws. It is undoubtedly a unique way of inspiring a class of diverse people who manage in the space of two and a half hours to produce numerous drawings under Ron’s coaching. To an observer, it seems erratic, chaotic, almost un-classlike, but it works. Of all the courses, classes and coaching sessions that are offered in the Byron Bay area, Ron’s has withstood the test of time, lasting a decade and growing from a small group of artists assembling to inspire one another to three regular
and full classes in Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Lismore. And he has spawned many a great talent who has gone from his class to exhibit or be paid for their art, Kelly O’Dempsie, Kaye Wearne and Rose Prideaux to name a few.
‘I think there’s a lot of people out there who really are creative people, especially in this Shire, who aren’t given an opportunity and I’ve created a space where that opportunity is given,’ said Ron. ‘Everybody has creative potential, every single person.’
Ron has a background in graphic design and commercial art but spent his early years in the Shire, where he has lived since 1978, running his own aluminium fabrication business
at Main Arm. He has since completed a visual arts course and finally finished setting up his own studio at Bangalow where he spends his non-teaching time working on his own art for a
future exhibition. He started the classes because at the time, there was nowhere for him to freestyle and mould his style. He thought if he could assemble other artists they could chip in for the cost of a venue and a model to pose for them. It grew from being an assembly of
uncoached artists to one where he facilitates the process and makes himself available
for inspiration and advice. The classes are in fact very dynamic in the way they proceed. Ron allows his model to pose in any way she chooses and he instructs his students to spend one minute drawing, first totally freehand, then with left hand, then with right, then with both and so on. Music plays fairly loudly in the background, ranging from the Rolling Stones to Jeff Buckley and trestle tables are set up in a square. Artists are free to draw or paint in whatever medium they like and in whatever position they choose with people squatting, standing or sitting on chairs as they draw. The nude model regularly changes
position in the middle while Ron roams the room inspiring people to let go and saying ‘it’s okay’ to do this or to do that… a lot. For Ron, the crux of what he is trying to teach is that it is all okay, anything goes, there is no right or wrong way to express yourself creatively.
‘It takes a lot of time to unlearn stuff, a lot of people carry a lot of shame and if they can overcome that shame and say, “my voice is just as legitimate and just as valid as everyone else”, we’re halfway there,’ he explains. ‘It’s up to me not to fail people, sometimes I can be a bit abstract.’ While it all seems a little airy fairy Ron is incredibly down-to-earth, approachable and well-liked. Last Wednesday he turned 56 and, as his students settled in
at the Drill Hall in Mullumbimby, a little stand displayed the cards he was given by some of these very students. Inside were expressions of what can only be described as love or admiration for him with sentiments basically lauding his beautiful persona and lovely nature.
While the students come and go, many gaining enough inspiration in a few sessions to pursue their own artistic goals elsewhere, Ron is concerned that a lot of people do not ‘get’ what his classes are about and miss out on what he has to offer by only coming once.
‘Long poses are harder, you forget what you’re drawing, most people see drawing as getting a perfect likeness,’ he said. ‘A lot of people freak out and think there’s not enough time to finish the drawing, or they don’t understand what I’m talking about but to me this is the same thing as coming to meditation, you’ve got to disengage a lot of stuff, that’s the difference between art and illustration.’ For details about the Dynamic Drawing classes…’

Dec 182010

Dynamic Drawing Draws Record Crowds

Artist Ron Curran has facilitated Dynamic Drawing classes to thousands of people in Byron Shire for the past ten years and has just returned from a successful two year stint in Melbourne.

‘We set up at the popular Brunswick Street Gallery in the heart of Fitzroy, the art hub of Melbourne,’ he told The Echo. ‘Dynamic Drawing was received enthusiastically and soon established a large grass roots base of drawers which soon grew to three full classes a week. Before long the classes, groups and workshops developed the largest base of drawers of anywhere in Melbourne.’

A group exhibition was also held at the gallery, according to Ron, representing works by over 60 artists from both Melbourne and Byron Bay, with over 200 works hung.

While Melbourne has a fantastic arts community and gave Dynamic Drawing a great profile, Ron says it’s the north coast and its unique and vibrant community that has called him back home.  ‘I want bring that wave of energy and inspiration from Melbourne back on board into the classes here.’

Dynamic Drawing classes have now reopened again with drawing sessions at the Mullumbimby Drill Hall Theatre, Dalley St on Wednesdays and at the Byron Bay Scout Hall, Tennyson Street on Fridays. Both classes are from 9.30am to 12noon. Drawing sessions are fully facilitated and include a model, music and refreshments. Call or email Ron to book on 0421 101 220 or Photo supplied.

Dec 172010

Scientist Surfing Picasso Tabatha Fulker

We’ve all heard of Surfing the Menu – Bender and Curtis taking us on a culinary tour of Oz with surfboards closer at hand than a garlic crusher – but my partner surfs the artist’s palette.

It’s not as obscure as you think. An environmental scientist who works from home, he gets to take the surf early most mornings, and on a Friday (work allowing) he throws his wetsuit aside for sketch pad, charcoal and ink and steers the deadly treadly to Byron Scout Hall for Ron Curran’s Dynamic Drawing class.

Now, that a surfer draws may not seem so strange (the artwork on any good surfboard blows the myth surfers have a one track talent out of the water), but what astounds me is that what started as wobbly line scratchings vaguely resembling the round turn of a genderless derriere, has crystalised into intricate sweepings of human formed lines I’m delighted to have hanging on our walls.

My scientist surfing Picasso is looking into his Fred Williams’ landscape painted dreamy future and is contemplating ACE art classes and Lismore TAFE’s highly recommended short and long term courses, but whatever he chooses to follow, he swears unerring loyalty to Ron Curran’s classes.

Everyone is welcomed: Radiohead, Janis Joplin and Miles Davis play on high-rotation, and apparently Ron’s encouragement of the free-formed flowing line drawing is a must for any aspiring artist.

Dec 172010

John Smith – Senior Lecturer Visual Arts – Southern Cross University
Waywood Gallery’s first exhibition, under new management, is an extraordinary one indeed. Ron Curran’s Dynamic Drawing classes have been gradually developing a word of mouth reputation, for almost 7 years now. His teaching has quietly but steadily gained an almost legendary status amongst artists, students and the art teaching fraternity in the region. Ron’s unpretentious manner and his uncompromising approach to work nurtures a high level of competency across a diverse range of abilities.

Now, at last, everyone in the community has a chance to view a major group exhibition of works produced Dynamic Drawing students. Ventureland: The Crashing Doors Exhibition is on at Waywood Gallery, 3 Centennial Circuit, A&I Estate Byron Bay until May 12

This exhibition is an explosive fountain of energetic expression and exploration. The figurative and abstract works are much more than life studies or media experiments, they are a demonstration of just how much people can release through an art making process. But they are not just some primal or shocking outburst, the level of achievement displayed in this show is very impressive.

The sensitivity and balance at the edge of release and gathering that allows the work to flow from these Dynamics is achieved through much practise. You can feel the artists breathing through these works. They make me want to go home and paint. It makes me want to put my hand in my pocket too. There are too many good purchases to choose from in this eclectic mix of established artists, students and complete novices to mention here. I can only urge you to visit the show.

The next Art Gallery at Southern Cross University is also showing an exhibition of staff and student work titled Draw, from May 8. I suggest a visit to both these shows as an engaging package.