Chalk one up for pastels in this class at Xcentricity Gallery

Tammy Berghold's apple still life
Tammy Berghold's apple still life

I was going to do the gonzo journalist thing and participate in last night's chalk pastel class at Xcentricity Gallery, led by Corrina Espinosa, but I thought I would make all of the other students feel bad if I busted out my mad pastel skills. That's a lie: I knew I was going to have to take pictures of my art and the thought of public shame made me pee a little, and not in the good way.

I walked away wishing I had drawn something of my own, my "grand masterpiece," as Espinosa calls it, because the intimate setting in the front room of the gallery, with music playing in the background, butcher paper lining the tables and a bunch of people drawing away was relaxing, and reminiscent of a school art class, when no one cared how good your drawing was.

Espinosa explains the process of chalk pastel art
Espinosa explains the process of chalk pastel art

The class was the first part of a two-part series of chalk pastel classes, and the first of its kind at Xcentricity Gallery, where owner Sophia Rose teaches classes of her own -- including classes in figure drawing and doodling. That's right -- doodling. Rose, who runs Creatively Connecting Colorado, a Facebook-bases artist network, read Espinosa's how-to blog posts and asked her to teach a class based on her post about chalk art drawing.

"I saw her step-by-step process and thought that it would be pretty cool to learn how to do that," says Rose. "And, I mostly set up classes that I want to teach or I want to learn myself. Also, I knew from reading her blogs that Corrina has an enthusiasm and passion for what she does and I knew that would shine through in a class setting."

Michael Espinosa and Mandie Erickson and the fruit of their labors (pun intended).
Michael Espinosa and Mandie Erickson and the fruit of their labors (pun intended).

Last night's class was a sort of primer for classes to come, hosting Espinosa as an instructor, and as such many of the people there were artists themselves, like Kyle Banister, who says that he came to try out a new medium, but these types of classes provide a different outlet for non-artist community members as well.

"It breaks up the regiment of having to enroll in a class, or go to a structured school," he explains. "Here there's no pressure. You don't have to impress anyone and it gives people a chance to experience something new."

Kyle Banister's work in progress
Kyle Banister's work in progress

And that's what Espinoza wants to provide -- a space for people who haven't practiced art in a while, those who are looking to try new techniques, and those who practice on their own all the time but want a public outlet to bounce ideas off other people. After all, Espinosa says, repetition is the key.

"If this is what you are going to do," she told the class, "then do it. Go out there and practice your art. Go for your grand masterpiece."

The next class takes place March 24 and 31, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. at Xcentricity Gallery, 4020 Tennyson Street. The fee for both nights is $125 and includes all materials. For more information, or to contact Sophia Rose with questions, visit Xcentricity's Facebook page.

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