Thursday, April 20, 2006
Deep Blue Trees, 2006, Oil on Panel, 12x12
Wednesday was a beautiful spring day, perfect for a long drive through upstate NY. As I got closer to Woodstock, I noticed the forsythia was blooming (it hasn't bloomed yet in our area, as we are further north) and it was just stunning, all yellow and wild branches everywhere. I was in hurry to get there as I was running late, but on my way home I was able to stop and get a few pictures of the forsythia as well as a few barns that had also caught my eye.
Class was good, and Jordan had looked at my work on my website so he was able to offer me some advice on how to approach painting the figure. An interesting suggestion he had for me was to take more care with my marks, to be slow and deliberate when creating the shapes and forms of the body. This may seem super obvious, but I was approaching the drawing of the figure in the same manner in which I approach a landscape drawing. With the landscapes I am more sure of myself, working by instinct rather than conscious thought, keeping the marks simple and bold in order not to overwork, which is exactly what happens when I analyze or do too much planning or fussing. However, with the figure it is necessary for me at this point to be more careful and thoughtful and to learn my way around the anatomy (again). I spent about an hour and a half working on a monochromatic, reductive oil drawing, using a cloth to pull out the light areas and form the figure. After a few false starts, easily remedied by coating the surface again with paint, I came to a point where I was somewhat pleased but more importantly I could start to see what might come next for me and the figure. That said, I didn't really like the drawing and thought I might rub it out so as to use the surface again for something else, but Jordan told me that I should sign it and keep it. So because I am fickle and will start to like a piece just because someone else does, I decided to keep it. I have posted it below. Keep in mind that I do not think it is fully resolved, I am viewing it as a study and while I think there are some good aspects to it, it definitely could be developed further. I may fiddle around with adding some glazes and color to it, which will probably wreck it, given how unsure of myself I am here but wrecking things is surely inevitable in this process.
Another thing I tried was drawing in line and contour only. I was reading Studio Notes the other day and Terry was discussing how he had his students do an exercise in drawing in contours and line rather than "shading" to create the forms of the model. This is what he says:
"Most people, when they're starting to learn, will focus on drawing the contours and try to achieve dimentionality by shading. Seems logical--afterall Michelangelo worked that way (according to Harry Carmean)-- but it seems even more logical (to me anyway) to build forms from the start, without the help of "shading". At this stage, "shading" (in quotes because i hate the term) is a crutch, a cheat. So I had everyone draw only with line, relying on contours, cross contours, overlapping forms and drawing through to achieve volume. This forces us to really make an effort to see the form on the model".
I thought this was interesting and felt that that was exactly what I had been doing over the years, quickly going through the motions of drawing the lines, without always seeing properly, in order to get to the fun part for me, which is to "shade", to create volume and mass with highlights and shadows. Unfortunately, the drawings I did in line only, turned out to be horseshit. Clearly, I need to work further on this aspect of drawing the figure as well.
Male Study 1, Oil on Paper, 16x20