Types of Lighting

April 24, 2012 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

I think of lighting as being one of three primary types:  silhouette, which has the most impact if the shape is recognizable by its external contour;  high contrast, which treats all of the lighted areas as one light value, and treats all of the shadowed areas as one dark value, or perhaps using only 3 or 4 values; and the last type of lighting, full gradual shading ranging from white through the entire value scale to black, which sometimes is referred to as chiaroscuro, exmplified by the image found in the Art Studio Chalkboard website.

I rarely work on a figure drawing after I get back to my home studio, except to correct a glaring mistake, or to clean up a smudge here or there.  But two weeks ago, the model gave us a beautiful pose, and I was unhappy with the drawing I made during the figure drawing session.  So I took a new sheet of paper, and redrew the pose using brown ink, showing only the primary two or three values, and leaving a lot of the edges undefined where light was hitting them.  This treatment gives the drawing a completely different feeling.

The pose interested me because the model was leaning down with his elbow and forearm on one knee, which foreshortened his torso.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

The Importance of Warming Up in Figure Drawing

April 23, 2012 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

I need to warm-up for a little while before my efforts at figure drawing start to flow naturally.  During the initial warm-up period, I try to capture the general directional line of the model, and a few of the light and dark patterns, or perhaps some of the essential contours or textures.  Often it feels like I am drawing a stick figure, just trying to get the general angles and proportions correct.  I draw fast, because our warm-up drawings start with 30-second or 1-minute or two-minute poses.  The model often takes slightly off-balance or less comfortable poses during the warm-up period, knowing that he or she doesn’t have to hold them for long.  I find that effort on the part of the model inspiring, and it motivates me to try harder.  I usually use the broad side of a chalky medium for the warm-up drawings, sometimes even drawing with white nupastel, which helps me to see where the light is striking the model, though white alone usually doesn’t photograph well enough to post here in my blog.  I draw with minimal concern for accuracy, sometimes merely trying to switch gears, from the left-brained thinking about my day-job as I drove to the session, to the right-brain activity of figure drawing.  Drawing is first of all a physical activity, so like an athlete, an artist needs to work at it a little in order to coordinate the hand with the eye, and a period of warm-up drawings helps with that.

As you can see by the examples below, warm-up gestures have strange lines, curves going the wrong direction, places that get overdeveloped, and other places not drawn at all, wrong proportions, and yet an undeniable essence of the figure.  These are warm-up gestures of the same pose from this past week’s figure drawing session at Studio b:  one by me, one by Nancy Nichols Williams, and one by Steve Wagner.

Joan Vienot

Nancy Williams

Steve Wagner

I enjoy the time spent warming-up, but 2-minutes is always too short.  But then too, 5 minutes is too short, and so is 20 minutes, and come to think of it, rarely is a pose long enough for me to feel like I actually finished!  The next drawings include another of my warm-up gestures, and then two longer drawings, perhaps 20-minutes or 30 minutes.  I left early from this session, exhausted from teaching all day, the 2nd of a 2½ day crash-course that I teach at a nearby college, certifying swimming pool operators to meet health department requirements.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

Studio b.’s New Location

April 8, 2012 in General by joanvienot

Those of you following my work know that I have been attending the weekly figure drawing sessions at Studio b.  On Easter Sunday, 2012, the owner, Colleen Duffley, has just posted the design for the new venue, which will be constructed out of re-purposed shipping containers, true to the b’s intent, to be creative with immediately available resources.  It will be located in Watersound, Florida, which is on Scenic Highway 30A, approximately 2½ miles west of the previous location.  The temporary location, where we are having the figure drawing sessions, is in Watersound North, which is on North Watersound Parkway, 1 block north of US 98.  Below is a sketch of the new venue.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150719620424660&set=a.89768744659.80226.53523929659&type=1&theater

Figure Drawing in a New Venue

April 2, 2012 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

It was interesting to draw in a new location last week.  Studio b. has moved to a nearby community, and the room was filled with unsorted moving boxes, furniture, and art.  The ordered disarray appealed to me.  The ambience at the new location is much warmer, with rich woods instead of cold plaster and tile, and with plentiful windows which let in light from every angle.  I was in heaven during the warm-up drawings, the low sun adding warm tones.  The model chose her own poses during the shorter warm-up sets.  Light from the multiple sources put complex highlights and subtle double shadows on the model’s skin.  As usual, most of the short poses were standing poses or twisting poses, perhaps even a little off-balance, which would be too hard to hold for any duration.  The longer poses were as always,  more stable as a matter of compassion for the model.

For the final pose, the model sat on the stairway to the second floor, where the single light source simplified the shadow patterns.  I sat at the base of the stairs where I could see her from that unusual vantage point.  What interested me the most was the exposed underside of her chin and her upturned nose.  The foreshortening had to be kept subtle even though it felt extreme, with her arm being larger because of its proximity to me.

I am happy with the end result in every respect except for one — it doesn’t look very much like the actual model!  Generally speaking, when drawing a portrait I count it a success if the positions of the eyes, nose, and mouth seem parallel.  Maybe if I practiced portraiture more often, I would be able to capture the likeness better.

It’s a challenge to create something someone might want to hang in their home.  It seems like the drawing either needs to wow the viewer with technical craftsmanship or else it needs to be someone they know or to remind them of someone they know.  In the end, I draw for my own pleasure and compulsion, trying to simplify what I see, to capture the essential character of the person or the expression I interpreted without concern for whether someone else will like it.

At left is a photo of me making the drawing posted above.

I am excited to announce that a few pieces of my art will be hanging in the lobby/reception area of the South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College here in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  The opening reception will be Friday, April 6, 2012, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.  Titled “A Passion for Art”, the show spotlights the members of the A+Art Committee which serves under the umbrella of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County.  The show exhibits works by Charlotte Arnold, Lauren Carvalho, Betty Cork, Miffie Hollyday, Susan Lucas, Mike McCarty, Robin Wiesneth, and me, Joan Vienot.  The show will close May 15, 2012.

 

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot