Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Drawing A Few Good Books

While teaching the Drawing Fundamentals class at CAC I used several books to help demonstrate the various elements of drawing. Since then a few people have asked for a list of those books, so here they are.

The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, Betty Edwards
Cezanne and Pissarro Pioneering Modern Painting,  Joachim Pissarro
Cezanne In The Studio Still Life In Watercolors, Carol Armstrong
The Paintings Of Jakuchu, Money L. Hickman
Impressionist And The City Pissarro's Series Paintings, Richard R. Brettell
Vincent van Gogh Drawings and Watercolors, DMA publication 1967
An American Pulse: Lithographs of George Wesley Bellows, San Diego Museum of Art publication 1999
The Art Of Drawing, Bernard Chaet
American Drawing The 20th Centery, Paul Cummings
Daumier 1808-1879, National Gallery Of Canada publication 1999
Matisse Drawings and Sculpture, Prestel

Friday, February 24, 2012

Drawing The Pieces Together

Raku Kilns at the Creative Arts Center
For six weeks we have been focusing on drawing by breaking the practice of drawing down to it's basic elements; contour line, mass, mark making, negative space, relationships, gesture and composition.

For this last class of Drawing Fundamentals, we are taking all those elements and applying them to a larger scale view. This shifting from still life to landscape tends to bring about a regression of drawing skills, but all the drawing elements apply in the same way. The objects in the landscape are the same as the fruit in the still life. Apply the elements to flatten your view of the world, all the objects will become a flat pattern which is transferred onto the page like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

Ceramic Class Room
Of course the trick is to stop thinking in 3D. You know the bucket is round, but in a drawing its a rectangle with curved ends.

When drawing landscapes you do need to acknowledgment the horizon line. The line that marks the separation of seeing the tops of objects and seeing the bottoms of objects. In the drawing of the Ceramic Class Room, you can see the tops of the buckets on the floor, but you can't see the tops of the objects on the top shelf.

This horizon line is your grounding straight line. All lines angle off of this line. Angling more as you look higher up or lower down. It tells you what the angle of perspective should be for all the other flat shapes.

Sorry, that's probably more confusing than it is enlightening. That's the nature of perspective. You just have to be there and do it to understand it.

Anyway, This was the last day of class and my last day to teach Drawing Fundaments. A Big Thank you to the Creative Arts Center for this opportunity to fill in while the instructor was recuperating. I really enjoyed the experience of getting back to the fundaments of drawing.

Next week: I'll blog about something new.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Scribbling The Night Away

For this Class on Drawing Fundaments I began by show examples of famous scribblers from the past; Matisse, Cezanne, and yes, Daumier. You might not know it, but Honore' Daumier is a fantastic scribbler. All of these artists drew with speed and passion, never letting the fear of getting it wrong slow them down.

The scribble allows you to react and respond to the subject intuitively. You make decisions about composition before you have had time to think about composition. The scribble involves your whole body, not just your fingers.

So, tonight, working from one large still life, we drew like devils. Starting out with several one minute drawings, then 2 minutes drawings, then 5 minutes, and finally finishing the night with a 30 minute drawing. Here's a montage from the class.

Next week- Pain Air Perspective.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Filming At LRTX With Mark Birnbaum

I spent a crisp Sunday morning at La Reunion TX with the filmmaker Mark Birnbaum. You might recall previous posting about his videos on this blog.

He was there shooting footage for a short film that will highlight the natural setting of LRTX.

And how the artwork is integrated into the landscape. I was there to mostly carry his tripod, but also to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the art of filmmaking.

Panning the horizon, the sun cut beautiful blue holes in the cloud cover turning the dry prairie grass into a field of shifting gold.

Back at the studio, with the raw footage downloaded into one of the dozen backup hard drives, Mark cuts and splices the best of the footage and sound recordings, then adds a few lines of text. We watch the results over hot cups of coffee and homemade oatmeal cookies. The video will be posted on the LRTX website soon, I'll let you all know when that happens.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

First Steps To A Wall Installation

Here's a quick snapshot of a wall installation in the mud and plaster stage.

My sketchbook is getting filled with drawings of elongated forms that often have knobs, forks, and horns. I am turning some of these into small ceramic sculptures that will eventually be installed as a random scattering on a wall.

In the photo above, in the bottom left corner is an oil clay model on a 5"X 7" MDF panel. The white block next to it is a plaster mold cast from one of the oil clay models. Above that, to the left is a plaster mold filled with clay. Next, shows the extra clay cleared away from the mold surface. On the blue board are the clay sculptures after being removed from the molds. 

From here the sculptures go into the kiln to be bisque fired, then glazed, and then high fired. The ones that survive this torturous trial will become part of a large wall installation.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Dark Side Of Mass

In tonight's class on Drawing Fundamentals we focused on describing mass, volume and shadow. Starting with a simple still life of fruit laid out on the table under a bright spot light, we drew quick sketches to get our eyes adjusted to seeing the subtle changes in shadow and high light. Then moved on to a few longer drawings.

To push the eyeball exercises a bit further, we switched over to drawing with white pencils on black paper. This switch means that you are now drawing the high lights instead of the shadows. Your marks relate to the brightness hitting the surface. We did two of these, and with all the groaning/conversation they took longer than expected. Seeing the light is much harder than following the dark.

Our long draw for the night was only about 20 minutes. It consisted of all white objects, related to the human head, and lined up against a white wall. The spot light accented the mass and the positive and negative shapes. Even though the drawing above is not finished, notice how your eye falls into that black void.

Next week, it's time to get down and scribble.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Building A Vocabulary Of Mark Making

A common issue faced when drawing from life is the frustration cause by a lack of a mark making vocabulary.

Drawing is the language of describing the 3 diminutional world on a flat sheet of paper, and doing it without the use of letters or words. Drawing uses marks, scribbles, dashes, smears... hundreds of variations. If you approach a drawing with only the mark making language used in hand writing, your drawing will reflect that lack of knowledge. It's like reading Moby Dick at only a Dick and Jane reading level.

So, tonight's Drawing Fundamentals class focused on building a vocabulary. We started by copying a few Chinese landscape drawings, which are loaded with mark making variations. In the drawing above, you can see that Clayton is exploring how to reproduce those marks.

We then moved on to drawing from a still life. Clayton is now using his pencil to a much fuller extent. Creating marks that describe light, texture, weight, and volume. These variations are the nouns, verbs, and adjectives that create visual poetry.

Next week we will be exploring the Darker Side Of Mass.