Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week Three, Adding a New Layer.

This week was a real challenge. In addition to the regular classes, I also attended the recommended evening classes. These are strictly still life and give us more opportunity to practice with more guidance. The classes are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00. The regular class ends at 4:00. That leaves me just enough time to go home, eat, and come back again. I have had to get extra organized and plan and prep a slow cooker meal the day before so that dinner is all but ready when I walk in the door. My husband has band rehearsal on those evenings too so we both are going out for the evening. It makes for a long, twelve hour day with nine solid hours of drawing.
So, this week's class results. The top picture is a still life we did on Tuesday. As you can see they are getting a bit more complex. I must remind people that none of these are finished works nor do they even come close to being finished. Each one is worked on for three hours and that is it at this time. The duck planter in the above picture was challenging at any angle but I was looking at the tail end of it. I wish I could say I am getting better at drawing books but they give me a hard time too. I am planning to draw stacks of books tomorrow to see if I can become the queen of drawing books, or at least the duchess!
This still life was one I set up and drew on my own. I rather like making my own still life compositions. Note that I included books knowing how much I needed to work on them. I was tweaking the tea cup when time was up so it still looks rather lopsided. We are starting to include shadows as shapes in our still life. One exercise we did this week was to draw the shapes of the shadows and light. Very challenging because it required a shift in the way we looked at the objects. I suspect we will be doing more of that as it was the final still life we did on Thursday.
Friday was the usual model sketching and construction drawing. I must say that model sketching is my favorite thing at the moment. I say at the moment because for us first year students, it is still an occasional treat. The other students do a lot more model sketching. It is as tiring to the artist as it is to the model. I suspect that when we do a lot more model sketching we will look back at the long hours of sitting at an easel with some longing. Break times are interesting at the school when they happen to converge. The first year students all stand while the others all flop into chairs. I will do a special post on just gesture sketching with pictures of the drawing progression. The picture below is of Friday's construction drawing. Friday afternoon was painful as I was so very tired from such a busy week it was all I could do not to lean my face against my drawing and fall asleep. We had to draw a stack of the Duplo Lego blocks. I had just sketched in the nubby things for reference at this point. The perspectives all seemed to be going in the right direction when it was time to leave but we sort of packed up a few minutes early and the teacher hadn't gotten back to us for another evaluation. It wouldn't have done me any good anyway as I was so very tired, nothing more was sinking in. It makes me tired just looking at the drawing!
Another round for next week. It does seem like we progress a bit with every session. Not so much in the way the pictures look at this point but in the way we draw and perceive the objects. I am starting to catch my own errors in placement and proportion, which is good. I have always been the sort that has to make almost every mistake in the book before I get it right but I do eventually learn. I think I will take a Sunday afternoon rest up for next week!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jumping into week two

It has been both a productive and expansive week. It was the first full week with my new schedule and it seems to be working out fine. I had a full day in the studio Monday on my own. Wednesday morning I took my dog to the dog park and got in a little gesture sketching before heading to the school for some afternoon studio time. The other days were full on instructional class. It seems like every day we go a little further and skills become stronger. The teacher never lets us get too comfortable though and keeps raising the bar. Here are two more of the still life exercises we did this week.

Again, a bit hard to see, the pencil marks are never very heavy nor are the drawings ever complete. We simply draw for three hours then stop, no matter where we are and move on to another one. We will have longer set ups soon I am told. In the top drawing I was in the process of re-adjusting the center when time ran out. We are starting to add shadows, much to my relief. The second drawing was undergoing a few adjustments as well when time was called. I must admit, the top drawing left me feeling like I had been beaten black and blue. My only comfort was that my fellow students looked like they were reeling along with me by the end.
Friday we had gesture sketching with a live model in the morning and construction drawing in the afternoon, again. Last week we had a male model and this week a female. The female model is a bit more challenging to draw as we ladies have a lot more curves. I also think the female body is more fun to draw for that reason. I forget with all our culture's focus on such a narrow (and unrealistic, literally) definition on what makes a so-called "beautiful' female form just how beautiful and graceful a real woman's female form really is. It was a pleasure to realize through sketching that yes, we women are beautiful in all our shapes and sizes and no matter what our age.
The best moment of the week came, believe it or not, during construction drawing. Construction drawing starts out with a subjective drawing, we draw what we see, then we add perspective to bring in some objectivity. I finally got this concept in a large Ah Ha moment. All of a sudden everything clicked and it all made sense. My drawing snapped into shape too. We are still drawing shapes but will apply this to objects next Friday. Here is my drawing. I didn't get a chance to finish all the corrections on it but you can get the idea,

Oh, I must add at this point, we don't use rulers but draw our lines free-hand, holding the pencil in the correct manner, which isn't the same way we hold a pencil to write with. I have already adjusted to this and it is automatic. I am already addicted to drawing with my lead holder too.
The hexagon was not exactly facing me square on but slightly turned. That added a nice challenge to getting the angles and planes just right.
The other tools we use at this point are a plumb line and a dowel or rod. Soon we will also be using mirrors to aid our precision.
In the midst of all of this, it is fun to take a break and look over at what the more advanced students are doing. Not that they have it any easier than we do. I see that it will be a struggle for quite a while. I am where I need to be so "it's all good' as a certain young friend of mine likes to say. That is it for this week. I am looking forward to next week. -Renee

Sunday, October 11, 2009

First week of School, Done!

OK, I know this doesn't look like much and the drawing is a challenge to photograph. This is one of the still life drawings we did this week. At this point we are starting from the beginning. We are just trying to get the shapes in the right proportion and position. We are not adding shadows except to block them in to help us in positioning. We are learning to train our eye and mind to ask the proper questions to accurately get things down on paper. The types of questions are, "is the object on the paper proportionately bigger or smaller than the real object." I say proportionately because scale (overall) doesn't play much into the drawing at this point. "Is the angle of the edge greater or smaller?" "Do the centers match up?" And so on and so forth. It is amazing when you think you have it and the instructor sits down and begins to ask you these questions. You look and all of a sudden you can see that yes, you made the basket too large, the angles are too sharp, etc. The teacher tells us that our eye and mind already know the answer, we just have to ask the right question. So we are learning how to ask the right questions. It is harder than it seems. In retrospect, the questions seem so obvious and simple, but when you are focused and rendering the drawing, for some reason they are harder to ask. It does get easier though. With each one I learn to ask more questions and can "see" the answer on my own. I've had to start over more than once!
Friday class was wonderful and exhausting. We had gesture sketching in the morning session. All of us students, in every year, gathered with our easels in a large circle and a live model in the center. Our objective was to capture the "gesture" of the pose. No detail, just the rhythm and sense of movement. We started with one minute poses then went on to three, five, and ten minute poses. This was over a three hour time period! It was mentally and physically demanding. We had breaks and all of us usually flopped into a chair and shook out our hands, arms, and shoulders. I really enjoy this exercise. There is music going to keep up the energy and the focus in the room is so intense. The only other sounds are the sound of pencils and charcoal moving over paper and the constant beep (or so it seems) of the timer.
The afternoon was spent drawing a cube. That is it, a cube. I used to be able to draw a cube! Friday afternoons are dedicated to construction drawing. In addition to proportion, we add perspective. The proportion has to be right or else the perspective goes awry. Sometimes the change in the drawing that was needed was incredibly minute but it made the difference between the perspective working, or not. Sigh...
It was a good week. I am loving it. As I have mentioned before, I feel as if I have come home.
The work is hard but extremely satisfying.
One final addition is a link that I found very interesting. It is to a trailer for a documentary that hits very close to home to me personally, and other women artists. It is called "Who Does She Think She Is". It isn't very long and you can see it here. I will also put it in the links list.
Off to get ready for next week, -Renee

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school and I am tired, tired, tired, and still pretty excited. I will probably be posting on the weekends but had to post for the first day of school.
First I have to say that the Ashland Academy of Art is wonderful. Everyone is friendly, both students and teachers. The school is all on one floor and divided into different stations. Us first year students were in the still life section and our easels were gathered around one end. All around us were students painting still lifes and through a partition there were students painting live models. We were so focused on what we were trying to achieve that I seldom looked around. It was only when I got up to get a drink of water or used the restroom that I would see all the artistic industry going on around us. Quite a busy and productive place. The sounds were of scraping easels and chairs, instructors teaching or correcting individuals, and somewhere a timer going off for the next pose.
After a brief introduction the Master Artist put us to work. Here is the first thing we worked on,
A cylinder on top of books with a cube and a ball. Our task was to get the proportions correct using relative measurements. This is how far all of us got after nearly three hours!
We had a welcomed one hour break for lunch and then we came back for round two.

This set up was a little more complicated and gave me the most problem getting the proportions right. We worked for three solid hours on this one. I know the pictures are kind of hard to see. It was dark by the time I was able to take pictures. Hopefully the future pictures will look better as I will be able to take them in the daylight hours.

Doesn't look like much does it? I have to say that I learned a tremendous amount today. It is challenging to get the mind, body, and eye to work together in this way. It is a start and I am very satisfied.

Our teacher very kindly said, as we filed out wearily, "I know it is painful but it will get easier in three years!"
Bring it on!
Off to bed and then back at school tomorrow.
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