“Wowed” by Kristen Doty

 Kristen demonstrates light and shadow

Kristen demonstrates light and shadow

As a new member of the Colleagues of Calligraphy, I was very excited to have the opportunity to participate in Kristen Doty’s “Drawing for Calligraphers” class. I had no expectations other than to learn some basic drawing skills which I believed would improve my oil paintings and help me on my new journey into the world of calligraphy. I had not heard of Kristen but was very impressed by the examples of her calligraphy, drawings and paintings that I found in an online search. With the encouragement of new-found calligraphy friends, I took a leap of faith and signed up. I am sure glad that I did!

I have to confess that I am an art workshop junkie. I have attended numerous ones in the past 30+ years. I say this because I’ve learned over the years that experimenting with new tools and techniques is far more important to me than having a finished painting or piece of art at the end of a workshop. I’m there to learn from the instructor and the other students. Kristen’s workshop exceeded my expectations and had the added benefit of introducing me to many wonderful CoC members.

Kristen Doty is an accomplished artist and an excellent teacher. She is passionate about calligraphy, drawing and painting, and as a teacher quickly puts you at ease with her warm and friendly demeanor. Kristen establishes a learning environment that is fun, motivating, challenging yet non-threatening. She is incredibly knowledgeable about her subjects and more than willing to share what she has learned and which artists inspire her. Kristen was very organized, well prepared and obviously put in a lot of time beforehand to prepare personalized folders, name tags and an artistic rendering of each student’s initials that we re-created later in the workshop. That wowed me! She also gave each of us tools and supplies that we used in the exercises and were able to take home with us. Wow again! 

At the end of the workshop, Kristen shared a few examples of her work including a very special, once-in-a-lifetime commission—a holiday card with a drawing of an eagle exposed by a cutaway on the front of the card (you opened the card to find the eagle as part of a drawer pull on a White House sideboard) and a hand lettered greeting on the inside—which was absolutely perfect.  For whom you ask?  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…and yes, she got to meet her, too! Wow! Wow! Wow!

 Card commissioned by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Card commissioned by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

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As artists, I am pretty sure we all have quite an extensive “toolbox.” The more art supplies, the better, right?!? Kristen shared a wide variety of pencils and tools for us to try—regardless of which ones were her favorites. Some of us just “had to have our new-found favorites” and rushed to Dick Blick in Edina after the first day of class! We made it just in time as they were closing the store early for inventory. Phew!

Kristen engaged us in a variety of exercises to learn new techniques and challenge us. For example, we sketched objects without looking at them, drew a geisha upside down, and used a plexiglass grid to outline our hand in sections. It was amazing to see how well all the geishas turned out—a “Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain” activity inspired by author Betty Edwards. All in all, it was an engaging and inspiring learning experience and I could have kept on going for a few more days!

No doubt in my mind that there is much more to learn from Kristen, and I hope to have another opportunity to learn from this inspiring and accomplished artist and teacher.