Kasem Kharsa is a filmmaker and painter, he has recently completed the intensive Drawing Development Programme during the Summer Term
Describe your work in the creative industries
I’m a writer-director and abstract painter. My films tend to be fictional stories that take place in the Middle East concerning memory and trauma. I’ve been working as a filmmaker for the past ten years, but have recently returned to drawing and painting as a more immediate and independent way of expressing narrative ideas.
Why do you think drawing is important?
I find as a visual person it’s a more immediate way to communicate an idea compared to a verbal or intellectual explanation. In my line of work where I’m collaborating with visual people like production designers or cinematographers, knowing how to draw is a valuable skill that allows me to communicate an intricate idea quickly and confidently. But in the privacy of my sketchbook, drawing encourages me to take my time, to ‘see’ the object or person in front of me. When I draw in the life room or park bench for example, I do find myself more at peace, more connected with what is precious but transient. In this sense, drawing is my meditation.
How did you hear about the Royal Drawing School public courses?
After applying to the School’s postgraduate programme, The Drawing Year, I was offered the opportunity to join the Drawing Intensive programme where I was able to study drawing for one term. For me, this was a more feasible alternative to the full 18 month Drawing Year.
What course did you decide to book and why?
During the Drawing Intensive programme, I choose to take a number of different courses: ‘The Studio Room in Colour’, ‘Drawing a Story’, ‘Drawing: Movement and Mind’, ‘Imagination and Observation’ and ‘Drawing the Graphic Novel’. I made a point of focusing on classes that would allow me to work on incorporating the figure into real and imagined spaces, as part of broadening my artistic practice but also to help me adapt a film idea into a graphic novel.
How has this course helped to develop your drawing practice?
For me the most important objective was to draw more consistently and for longer stretches of time, which I’ve been doing since the start of the term. I now find that I’m much more comfortable opening my sketchbook and drawing something in front of me or from my imagination; I’m constantly juggling ideas and possibilities for future drawings and paintings. So there have been immediate dividends, but of course there are some ideas and approaches that I still need to unpack over the coming months.
In what way has this course impacted your professional practice?
I’m more confident involving the figure in a scene in order to tell a story, which is vital in filmmaking. Before taking these courses, my comfort zone was to handle ‘objects’ in isolation and not deal with the reaction of a figure or figures in a specific environment on the page. I’m now working much larger, sometimes taping sheets together as I experiment with the scale of a narrative. I’m more comfortable sketching in museums, and feel more of a kinship to those artworks, because I feel somehow part of that line of visual thinkers. Even though these skills will serve me well as a filmmaker, they have also set in the pursuit of a new path, a path that I’m still not sure how to articulate but feels exciting.
What is the next course that you would like to do?
I’m considering the painting classes the Drawing School will be offering over the summer school term.
To find out more about public courses and to book click here
Even though these skills will serve me well as a filmmaker, they have also set in the pursuit of a new path, a path that I’m still not sure how to articulate but feels excitingKasem Kharsa | Filmmaker, artist & Public Programme student