This week at Studio b., we had a new model. I get better at drawing any particular model after I have drawn him or her a few times. The first session with a new model is difficult for me. The week was no exception — I struggled. And as if drawing a new model wasn’t hard enough, Heather also directed us to draw the background in our pictures, to give a sense of environment.
In my first drawings, I drew a hint of the studio room, and the drapes covering the model’s support boxes. There was not enough time for me to draw the model with much accuracy, and also to draw the studio as well. I grew increasingly frustrated. So on my last drawing, I gave up with the studio background, and instead I put my figure on a porch near the ocean. Heather is always telling us to draw what we see, not what we know. But all I had was what I know, so my porch siding and shadows might be a little unconvincing. It’s all part of the learning process.
I was privileged to be the guest artist at the figure drawing session at Studio b. this week while our regular instructor was on vacation. My focus was on line quality and lost edges.
Sometimes the edge between the two shadows becomes indistinct. The same thing can happen with light areas, or for that mattter, any two similar values. The edge becomes “lost”. The artist knows it is there, and the temptation is to draw it, but the piece generally ‘reads’ better and is more interesting if some edges remain lost. Lost edges require the viewer to participate, to look longer, to figure out what’s going on in the picture.
I showed some examples by Andrew Wyeth, in which he used thicker lines, thinner lines, and darker and lighter lines, changing line quality midway through a line. I also pointed out how he sometimes left edges completely undrawn, implying a line by edges of other shadows, or by creating a different value behind, so that the “line” was the edge of two values.
I asked the artists to leave some edges undrawn, or “lost”, and I have posted here a few of the drawings that demonstrate the concept.
Nancy’s blue shadow covers the top of the right leg, the cast shadow, and the left side of the model. The edges are lost in the shadow. Celia’s shadows do the same.
Steve Wagner’s drawing also has some wonderful changes in line quality, some lines disappearing into nothingness, others obscured by light or shadow.
I also have included a couple of warm-up drawings by Denis Wintersong and Steve Dagg, which show line sensitivity before I gave my spiel, so I can’t take much credit — these all are accomplished artists, and all I did was give them something to think about, that they probably were already doing anyway!
This being my first experience as the guest artist for the group at Studio b., I was honored to be in the middle of such talent and energy.
We practiced continuous line drawing at Studio b. this week. As always with continuous line, because you just launch into the drawing without a preliminary underdrawing or gesture, there are a lot of distortions which may or may not be corrected by successive lines.
It interesting how even though I knew certain areas were distorted, when I redrew them with another color, I found myself repeating the distortion.
I warmed up with blue-green nupastel on white paper. On subsequent drawings, I decided to use different colors throughout each drawing as it progressed. Something came up and I left the session early but I love continuous line drawing and am promising myself I will do more of it.
Our instructor, Heather Clements, will be away on vacation and I will be filling in as guest instructor at Studio b. next week. It’s been a while since I have taught art. One of my degrees is in art education. I taught the two-dimensional visual arts at a high school in Colorado for 3 years before moving to Florida. I also taught a few workshops here in Florida in the 80’s and I taught an independent study student in the local high school, but after my “day job” developed into a business, I let my teaching certificate expire. In my business I also teach, twice or three times a year, so I am practiced at giving presentations. I’ll need to prepare, but I’m looking forward to it. My focus will be line quality and lost edges.
Our guest instructor at Studio b. this week was Rae Broyles, here for an Encaustic Workshop that she will be teaching on Saturday.
Tonight Rae took us through some exercises to help us build space and volume in our drawings, in part by including shapes and values around the figure, which creates depth. She showed us some of Richard Diebenkorn’s art, and talked to us about his method of drawing and rubbing out and erasing and redrawing, a process of finding lines and shapes he wanted to keep. The results are interesting in that you can see a lot of the original lines, so the final product is witness to the process. The drawing at left is his. I certainly put more stuff in my drawings than I usually do, but I failed to achieve his simplicity, which in my opinion is the real beauty in his work. But I was successful in creating more space by including some of the setting in my drawings.
We drew by the pool at “The b”. Colleen had set up a swing for a prior event, so that added something different. Rae asked us to use charcoal to draw the figure and to draw the background or surrounding shapes, and after we had worked on it for 10 minutes, she said, “OK, now rub it out and start again.” As a result, each drawing was reworked a couple of times, taking on a layered effect.
The drawing on the left was one of my warm-up drawings, in conte on manilla paper. For the drawing on the right, I was using very soft brick charcoal on gray paper, rubbing, erasing, and redrawing, and then following up with some white charcoal. I was pretty far out of my comfort zone, so the result was very different from anything I usually do. But that is the value of continuing to take instruction. I have to stretch more and grow faster.
I also remembered why I hate brick charcoal — it is so messy — pretty soon it is all over your clothes, your face, the walls, and on clothing you weren’t even wearing. In fact, brick charcoal shares top billing with cadmium red oil paint for messiest media on the planet. Fortunately Colleen was ready with the handi-wipes at the end of the session.
Fourteen artists were at the figure drawing session at Studio b. this week. Fourteen! The gallery was overflowing with talent and enthusiasm. What great energy! Kathy practically danced while she drew; Theresa was writing something; and behind me I could hear Roy’s charcoal.
Colleen had some good music in the background, and some refreshments on the counter, and Heather was pointing out shapes and shadows.
The woman from Chicago sat on the floor, some artists were seated on chairs, some stood at easels. I tell you, it doesn’t get much better than this!
Studio b.‘s tagline is “Be creative, Be adventurous, Be inspired,” and I feel all of those things when I am there and afterwards! How lucky am I!