The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 6, 2013

Others enjoy Wiltshire’s gift of memory


While sitting typing this article it is Dec. 26, 2012, the very chilly day after Christmas.

I know when each article is due and that it should be started early enough for it not to become a procrastinator’s nightmare, but never do. Knowing from past experience (memories) that I will always get it finished and that I think better when I am pushed a bit, as in a deadline, or someone with more authority than me saying “This needs to be done by….” How many others are like this when it comes to a deadline?

Now that I’ve gotten this out of my system, here’s hoping that everyone had a good Christmas. Since we are all vulnerable to the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas, it only seems logical that memories, both childhood and grownup, serve to create our own ideas of what Christmas should be. Memories encompass a large part of who we are and what we feel. My tea is ready, how about yours?

Artists are people who draw, paint, sculpt, or use whichever medium they choose to express themselves. An artist can do this through the use of imagination, observation, or memory. An artist may be good at all three, but another artist may only be good at one or two. The older we get the more files we have in our memory folder to draw from, and at times they can be more difficult to bring up. Because of this, occasionally when drawing or painting from memory, the image in the artist’s brain may be skewed and the artist cannot properly place it on paper. If only we could find a way to photograph the important things we see and store in our brain.

When drawing from memory there is an artist who takes this idea of drawing from memory to dramatic new heights, quite literally. His name is Stephen Wiltshire, and he draws from only his memory, but what a memory he has. Wiltshire, having been diagnosed with severe autism when he was three, went to school in London and was in special education classes. Having been previously unable to speak, these teachers diligently worked with Wiltshire until he learned to talk. If you were to invite Wiltshire on a short helicopter ride over a busy city you would be amazed at what happened when he returned.

Simply from memory, this man can draw each and everything he saw, from the exact number of windows and doors to the architectural designs on a particular building. He has done this in many big cities already, both in America and foreign countries. Take a nice long drink of your tea now, if you’d like. The man has a gift and it is gratifying that others are able to see and enjoy it.

Someone asked me the other day (amidst the Christmas rush) why I wasn’t writing about Kem anymore? The truth is that I haven’t seen much of her, but she did go to Florida for a vacation. Those of you who know her realize that her sense of humor is always close at hand, and I am planning on this when I see her soon.

Classes, shows

— Winter Children’s Classes will begin the week of Jan. 7 and last until Feb. 25.

— After School-Class for the younger children (ages 5-9) will begin Monday, Jan. 7. The class is from 4-5:50 p.m.

— After School-Class for the older children (ages 10 and older) will begin Wednesday, Jan. 9. The class is from 4-5:30 p.m.

— Home School Classes will begin Jan. 7 from 1-3 p.m.

Every person who takes a class is now required to pre-register. Contact Danville Art League at 442-9264, or in person at 320 N. Franklin St., Danville. Please give name, phone number, email address and the name of the class for which you are registering. Class fees must be paid no later than one week before the first night of class. Payment after due date will result in a $5 increase in price.

— “Basic Drawing Class — Texture & Surfaces,” Jan. 7-Feb. 25 from 6:30-8 p.m. Does your drawing look bland and would you rather jazz it up a bit? Learn how to draw textures and enhance the surfaces of your drawings. You will learn how to do surface treatments with graphite, erasers and other tools to make your images pop. The class will focus on learning to create visual textures while using the elements of art and the other principles of design to create your own unique pieces of art. Visual materials will be provided or you may bring your own. We will complete at least one drawing by the end of the session. The instructor is Kem Wiggins. The cost is $50 for pre-registered members and $55 for late registration and non-members.

— There will be a gallery show by Eleanor Wesch titled “Brilliant Flowers.” An open house is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Jan. 26. She will also be teaching an Acrylic Workshop. It begins Feb. 15 from 6-8 p.m., and continues Feb.16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch is provided by the Danville Art League on Feb. 16. The cost is $50 for pre-registered members and $55 for non-members and late registrants who are members. The majority of her works are florals. She will provide fresh florals for students to work with.

— General meeting on Jan. 17: Joyce Knoblauch will discuss “Making Better Photographs.”

— General meeting on Feb. 21: Jennie Huff will discuss “Artist Trading Cards.” This show will be held once again in the month of March at the Danville Art League. This is an unforgettable show, so plan on attending, and bring your friends. While you used to see us at the Danville Village Mall, you may now simply come to the Danville Art League.

My husband was kind enough to make me more hot tea about four paragraphs ago, so thank you Bill for all the times when you make me tea.

The Danville Art League’s phone number is 442-9264 to sign up for a class or if you have a question.

Our clay classes are still in operation as well. We have basic wheel, advanced wheel, open studio on Monday and Wednesday from 6-9 p.m. for a cost of $5 per month or $50 per year.

Please call if you have any questions at all. Please don’t call with any “fiscal cliff” questions. We don’t have the answer to this one either. We love art.

Eileen Dunavan is a member of the Danville Art League. Her column appears once a month.