Friday, October 19, 2007

Painting anyone?

Yesterday I signed up for Marilyn's 6 week painting course. It starts this coming Wednesday. Somehow I don't feel as confident going into this as I did approaching the Sketching and Drawing class.

In an email she sent me, Marilyn said she thought I would benefit from the painting class, and it got me to thinking. In painting, your image is constructed of color and light - form, structure and texture are rendered in terms of the play of light on the object being rendered. There are no contour lines or cross hatching or erasures for highlights. Interestingly, I think I can see where I should have been taking this approach in my drawing and sketching - painting with pencil - rendering light and dark instead of 'drawing lines'.

I was struck by a thought a minute or two ago. Painting is like the little sketching exercise I have found that I really like a lot. It's drawing a square using diagonal lines. You don't actually draw the square - you don't outline the square with 90 degree angled lines. You draw lines (diagonally in this case) across what would be the surface of the square that end where the sides of the square are, thereby creating the IMPRESSION of the square, not the square itself.

Perhaps I have benefited already.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sometimes it takes time to sink in ...

Last night was the last class - at least, for now. I am sure that I will follow this class up with others. I really enjoyed it and I really want to stay with the 'Sketching and Drawing' thing. I know that what I have learned will help me as a photographer, but more so, it has reminded me of a time when I used to enjoy the process of creating 'art'. Of course, what I did so long ago was mostly charcoal and pastels, but the idea was there and I let it get away from me. Well, now I'm back and I intend to stay with it. I can see so many things in my head that I would like to be able to put to paper - learning the skills I am going to need to do these drawings is going to take time and effort but the end result - hopefully - will be worth all of it.

The class was devoted to texture and shading and then, toward the end, we started on a portrait. I have a picture of Papacito (my 89 year old father-in-law) which I like and that is the subject of the portrait I started working on. The drawing doesn't look like him, at all. That said, what I didn't understand or get to until after the class was that I should have tried to render the portrait using the texturing and shading techniques we had discussed earlier in the class. Instead, I went off in a feeble attempt at a contour-line based drawing that has no hope of ever looking like what I want it to look like. I think the term that comes to mind here is 'restatement'. I need to go back to that drawing and see the shading and texturing and express THAT and forget about drawing the contours of his face. But I should have caught that during class - not on the drive home. Sometimes, I guess, it just takes time to sink in.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Last Class ...

Tonight is our last class with Marilyn Dale at North Central College. We are to cover portraiture. This seems to me to be another one of those subjects which we could spend many classes on - instead of just one. But at least we're going to touch it, and that's what matters, I suppose.

Last night I sat down and developed a set of exercises that I will do daily. Things to teach me hand/eye coordination. They're not extensive - they just fill one page in my medium size sketch book/journal. But they should be a start. There are circles, stars, dots and lines and spirals and squares made of diagonal lines. Nothing challenging -just skill building. The squares from diagonals is an interesting little exercise - it calls you to do some unexpected reckoning as you construct the image - and mistakes stand out like a sore thumb. Very cool.

Tomorrow, (Thursday) I am going to start a little project I have in mind to test my skills. I am going to try my hand at creating an image using the Projecta Scope. I have an image of the Christen Eagle I shot a week and a half ago. It is from the first flyby - a knife-edge pass down the runway. It is a slightly head-on photo and the plane is sunlight from the side. The pic was taken early morning, so the top of the wing (which is vertical in a knife edge maneuver) is exposed to the camera and sunlit. Randy Michael, the man who owns the plane, and I are going to meet sometime during the weekend to look over the photos I took and I hope to be able to surprise him with the drawing. We'll see.

I like to draw. I like these classes I've taken and the people I've met through the classes. I am really sorry to see it all come to an end. It would be nice if we were to find a way to stay in touch - but I'm not sure my classmates would be interested. Some might - but not all, I think. Oh well.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Projecta Scope

Update: 7/17/08 - I get so many hits on this post from searches done on 'Projecta Scope' that they ought to pay me money. But they don't. On the other hand, I haven't asked, either. Anyway, click here to go to my latest post which will be where you'll find my latest painting. Maybe made with the 'Scope' - or maybe not. But take a look.

I have purchased a 'Projecta Scope' - a device for projecting images onto a surface for the purpose of drawing and/or copying them. In a way it kinda feels like cheating, but I think it will help me develop my technique in contouring and shading. And, in the meantime, I should have some fun with being able to produce a quality of image I might not get to, otherwise, for a time.

Part of the original motivation for this drawing class was the notion of being able to inform my work as a photographer. I have always felt that my photography suffered for a lack of understanding of composition. Learning to draw, I felt, would help me better understand the 'art' side of things - and I would, naturally, take better pictures. I'm beginning to see, however, that better pictures come from practice - just like better drawings come from doing the little exercises over and over again. Now I understand why artists do 'studies' - painters will do drawings of elements of a planned piece until they get all of the parts and pieces 'right' - but in the meantime, they have learned how to portray the images of the things that make up the parts and pieces of the work. It's a study AND a practice.

The other thing about pictures is the digital camera. I have learned more about photography and the process involved in the last year than I did in all of the many years I have been taking pictures - with film. I am not one of those people who is organized enough to record all of the settings and such that a picture was taken at. I don't keep a log. So there was always this disconnect between what I did to take the picture and the end result. After all, it used to take several days to get pictures back from the processor, and in the meantime, everything you did to create the shot, successful or not, got lost in the intervening time period. One hour photo processing helps, to a degree, but the disconnect is still there - at least for me. But digital has solved all of that. The feedback and the learning is IMMEDIATE. And now that I understand more, I am seeing things differently and I am ready to start taking photographs to use as a source/model for my pencil work.

This is getting to be so much fun there MUST be a law against it.