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…’