Drop-in drawing and art group brings different people, styles and talents togetherCANNON BEACH - The warm autumn sun swirls around 19-year-old Holly Millar as she sits quietly on the fireplace hearth.

Chestnut braids hang over her shoulder and her hands are folded in her lap. The only sounds are her soft breathing and the scritch-scratch of graphite pencils on paper.

Millar sits as a live model for a new drop-in drawing and art group that meets the first Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce, 207 N. Spruce St.

She can't sit long today. She must get back to her job at a restaurant across the street. But she's there long enough for artist Margaret Martinez to complete a basic drawing of her head, face and shoulders, complete with those tricky braids.

LORI ASSA - The Daily Astorian

Meyers works on the details of a sketch incorporating different coastal scenes."Yes, those braids are hard to do," Martinez admits. "But they're nothing like wicker. Imagine trying to draw all those little tiny pieces, the way they're interwoven. It's a nightmare."

Art continues to blossom in Cannon Beach and the new drop-in group, as well as the upcoming Stormy Weather Arts Festival and a smaller Celebration of the Arts, are the flowers.

David Robinson"Cannon Beach is just known as an art colony that focuses on creative expression," said David Robinson, pastor of Cannon Beach Community Presbyterian Church. He has been a resident since 1993 and is involved in the artistic nature of the community.

"The number of people I've bumped into who are involved with art on some level is quite profound," he said. "These are people who are not seeing art as just a way to make a living, but also as a way to express their life."

Brain balanceFor Martinez, drawing is a way to balance her busy life. A bank employee by day, Martinez' working hours are filled with numbers, transactions and equations. Drawing gives her brain a chance to switch from the analytical, number-oriented side to the more creative, inspirational side.

"Art gives balance to the way my mind works," she said. "You can lose hours and hours in just sketching."

Martinez enjoys drawing in solitude, but she realized that there were many other artists who might like to come together to share artistic perspective and technique. That's why she started the drop-in group.

"I enjoy learning what other people have practiced," she said. "This is a networking opportunity for other artists, a chance to share and learn. You don't have to have any formal training to come."

Richard GorsuchThe group is open to all levels of artists. Although it is primarily for adults, teenagers are welcome. Children age 8 and up may be accompanied by their parent. Martinez recommends that anyone with a child should call her at (503) 436-2091 before attending the group. It is a fairly quiet activity and children will bore easily. Also, the group may draw nudes in the future.

Artists should bring their own newsprint pad and drawing board, easel, pencils, charcoals, erasers and pens. Tables and chairs are provided. Cost for each monthly session is $3, which will help pay for a live model.

Martinez leads the group in various drawing techniques, including contour, timed draw, still life, landscape, live model and group perspective. This last technique gives different artists a chance to work on the same drawing at different times, from different perspectives. Another technique, gesture drawing, teaches artists to look for the most basic lines or shape of something.

"This is a great activity for someone who is new to drawing," Martinez said. "There are really just a few shapes in the world, but many lines."

Helen Warriner - The Daily Astorian

Richard Gorsuch spends some time painting in Cannon Beach.For Mary Meyers, the group is a chance to stretch her drawing skills. The Cannon Beach resident began sketching in high school and has always been very detail-oriented. The group has helped her see the importance of "the big picture."

"When I start to draw something, I can spend hours and hours trying to get one little detail right," she said. "The idea of big shapes is very interesting to me. And it's so much fun to see other's work."

Community and collaborationOne of the real benefits of the drawing group is that it brings artists - typically seen as "loners" - together to practice and discuss art.

"Artists have this tremendous need for solitude," said Cannon Beach painter Richard Gorsuch. "I call it 'getting into the zone.' A creative person likes to have that space to be alone with his work. But in spite of that need, I, like most artists, crave that community and collaboration."

Another benefit is the opportunity for artists to critique each other's work. Artists both crave and fear critique.

"If you want to grow in your art, if you want to learn how to be a better artist, you've got to realize that you're not perfect," he said. "If you can live non-defensively and enjoy the process, that is the fruit that grows out of collaboration."

The disciplines of the artistic and spiritual life are very similar, said the pastor, Robinson. One of the similarities is accountability.

"It's a loving, supportive accountability that says I'm willing to let someone look into my life and ask hard questions," he said. "It's a willingness to be taught, a willingness to be humble."

Robinson has been teaching a seven-week class about faith and art at the chamber. The last class is at 7 p.m. Tuesday and includes a Celebration of the Arts, where students will present a piece of art that expresses their own spiritual and creative life. Many mediums will be represented, including poetry, food, music, interior design, fabric, drama, painting and drawing, landscape design and computer graphics.

"By creating art in many mediums, we are expressing spiritual intimacy," he said. "The willingness to come together with a group of people and practice our creativity is necessary. We were created by God to live in an intentional community."

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