Friday, September 28, 2007

TGIF ...

Today is Friday, and after I pick up Zachary from school tonight, I am essentially uncommitted for the entire weekend. Oh, there are a few things I would like to get done around the house, but nothing that MUST be done and nothing that will absorb loads of time. All of which means that I will have some time to myself to devote to the purposes of Art. I think I'm going to close myself up in a room and get into the book - Keys to Drawing by Dodson. I have looked through it and there is some great stuff in there - stuff I haven't seen in any of the other books I've purchased, recently, concerning Drawing and Sketching. And I really do want to learn. And practice. I absolutely MUST practice.

KTD (Keys to Drawing) goes into this thing about an artist's 'handwriting'. In doing so, there is an exploration of 'freehand' and 'control hand' in a discussion of how one works. I think I feel most comfortable working 'freehand' - my 'control hand' needs a lot of work. The control hand is expressed when you work in fine detail, and you get down close to the end of the pencil with your grip - small lines and fine, precise, detail. Freehand is busy and big and uses 'restatement' a LOT - restatement being a redraw of a line or element without erasure of the original line or element. So drawings full of restatements have a tendency to be imprecise and busy - kinda scribbly - where control hand drawings are precise and detailed. Freehand is how many artists begin a work which eventually becomes something else - a painting or watercolor, for example, or a control hand drawing (after a lot of work). Bu 'freehands' don't necessarily have to be anything other than what they were born as - it just depends on what you're doing and when you think you're done.

Anyway - I hope to practice this weekend. And I think I will try putting samples into this blog for the first time. After all, the idea here is to create a record I can look back on sometime in the future, after I get good and I need to be reminded where I came from. IF I get good. And IF I need to be reminded. In the future...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Time and Distance

Last night's class was a little disappointing, for me. I wasn't able to produce the kind of work I saw my classmates getting to and I felt a bit amateurish. It wasn't until the class was over and I was putting my materials away that I really saw my work and I was surprised at what I had done.

The class was all about light and mapping tonal values. We worked on brown paper for the first time - I have a roll of 'Postal Wrapping Paper' I bought at Meijer's. We used Conte crayon white, black and sanguine to represent the high, low and midtones, respectively, in a black and white photograph Marilyn gave us to work from. I wasn't pleased, at all, with what I had done. The next exercise was to do the same from life - an egg, a candle and a cup were set out, under a strong light, and we were to once again to reproduce what we saw in tone - not necessarily an accurate pictorial representation of the items but a mapping of tonal values. I think I got the egg pretty good before class ended but the rest of it kinda sucked. Anyway, class came to an end and, in putting my roll of brown wrapping paper away, I saw my 'photograph' work from a distance, for the first time, and I remarked that I had done better than I had thought, now that I could see the work from a distance. Marilyn commented that I needed to remember that I was also seeing it an hour later - that there was a distance in time as well as space.

I did okay. It was better than I had thought. I guess sometimes you need to look back at things, in time and distance, in order to properly appreciate them. So I guess the lesson is to NOT be too critical of what you're in the middle of doing. Wait. Look back. Give it some time and distance.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Conte Tonight !!

Tonight we get to play with our crayons!! I had never used Conte crayon before, so I had no idea what they were. They're made from clay and pigment and baked in a kiln so they're hard (and breakable). Not only that - they're square - not round like you would normally think a crayon to be. They come in a limited range of colors - black, white, sanguine (like sepia) and bisque (varying shades of brown). I suppose there are probably more colors out there, somewhere, but I haven't seen them, yet. Anyway, tonight we are going to work in texture and shading and we're going to use the Conte crayons in the exercise. And the brown paper which was listed in our course supplies. Why we wouldn't use white paper is a little lost on me, but I'm sure Marilyn will make her reasoning clear. She always does.

I have found the neatest web site. It is There are many, many lessons in drawing and sketching there for one to work through - at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. The cost to join the site is low (20 bucks for 3 months) and during the time you are a member you can see and download any and/or all of the lesson on the site. And they are GOOD!!. I have downloaded all of the lessons and I have them on my 4gig TravelDrive my kids bought me for Christmas. When I am done with this course I am going to go through the Brenda Hoddinott (she created the site) lessons, one at a time, to enhance and sharpen my skills. At least, that's the plan.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Another Book

Annie, my very patient and tolerant wife (whom I love so very much), upon seeing the receipt from Barnes & Noble, said "Are you ever going to stop collecting Art books?" as the evidence of yet another purchase passed through her fingers. It seems that this is something I do. If I'm interested in something, I buy the books. So I hove tons of books about computers and related stuff, Motorcycles, golf, photography (the winner if there's a contest), Tarot and other mystical stuff, Astronomy, Science (Physics) and Music. And Art. And of course, that doesn't even include my collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction books and other literature I'm fond of reading - which will vary from time to time. I love to read.

And now I love to draw. That new Art book I just purchased has an outline drawing of a nude in the first few pages - I copied it and I think I did well. I made mistakes in drawing it and in correcting those mistakes I think I learned - about how I make mistakes and about correcting those mistakes and about how everybody makes mistakes.

In the past I have done some simple draftsman type work - plans and such which require precise placing of lines and proportions are carefully measured and everything is very 'cut and dried'. I couldn't do that for a living, even though it's 'drawing'. I like the freedom that sketching and drawing give me - not every line needs be precisely placed - as long as the resulting impression is accurate. As long as the proper feeling is expressed. As long as the idea comes across. Those are very liberating notions. Perhaps it is the ability to adopt those notions and incorporate them into one's psychie that gives one the courage to put pencil, charcoal and chalk to a blank piece of paper - forever changing it.