And then there’s the novel threat of Zoom bombing—a recent phenomenon where people join Zoom meetings with the intention to harass and disrupt the virtual event. They’ve been a recent scourge in AA meetings and beyond. From the get-go, Burrowes, who hosts the drink and draws at Rebar Chelsea, set some ground rules to curb any online foul play. “They have to follow guidelines,” he said. “The camera has to be on and I have to be able to see you. The level of your artistry does not matter to me as long as you want to come in and create. We just want to keep in a safe space.”
While Zoom isn’t exactly a perfect way to draw from life, there are still some positive aspects to these virtual classes. “Sometimes when you have a little bit of limitation, it sparks some of your best work,” said Kieren. There’s also the unique experience of being able to have everyone draw from the same angle. “It’s kind of cool,” said Kieren. “When you see the drawings, you see radically different interpretations of the same pose from the same angle.”
Burrowes praised the fact that, thanks to technology, people can take screenshots and brighten or darken an image to get a better sense of the details. “You can use projectors to blow your image up,” he added enthusiastically. “The bigger the screen, the better it is.” Smith also optimizes the one-angle limitation by focusing on models from the waist up, making the most out of a fairly small screen. “You’re able to see a little more information,” he explained. This is especially helpful to newer students who might otherwise be overwhelmed with the possibilities and not know where to begin.
Zoom drawing classes have the added benefit of allowing students to go all out with their workstations. In the physical world, one has limited counter space and must be mindful of the other students. At home, however, one could feasibly set up a full easel while streaming the Zoom class on a 52-inch TV, lay out a whole robust color palette, and let loose. “When people are at home, they’re more likely to explore,” said Burrowes, explaining how he’s seen a lot of color, charcoal, and digital illustration in the online classes he’s hosted so far.