Monday, September 24, 2012

Drawing 101 Pt 2: 'Life drawing is dumb.. why should I do it?

      After copying, comes creating. Copying builds skill, life drawing hones talent. 

      Copying is for learning the basics. When you start to leave copying and start to create, there comes a new level of learning.. that can be scary. Bc then you really start to see how little you truly know. When you leave copying pictures and start drawing from life, it will probably be the biggest shock in your drawing life. Take my experience for example:

     All through out grade school I copied my favorite characters from magazines and posters. I would draw every single Pokemon when I was in elementary to my favorite artist's album cover during highschool. I would draw some things from life but they were mostly of spaces or buildings. Always staying a little abstract to hide my flaws.
      Then came freshman year of college: Week one. All us students came with our new biggie boards and freshly sharpened pencils and sat down in our life drawing class. The model is nude and getting ready to start posing. I have never drawn a nude model in person before and it was quite odd to realize the immaturity I was feeling all bc there was a penis right there hanging like no bodies business. All that went away when our instructor told us that we were not to EVER use pencils and to walk over and grab a piece of charcoal and to begin drawing the model. Then began the 30 seconds poses. Then with in 20 seconds I realized exactly why the instructor made us use charcoal and not pencil. You can NOT draw details with charcoal and finish a drawing in 30 seconds. It forces you to be broad and to commit to your lines even if they weren't perfect. It makes you live with the mistakes you create on the paper and because of that you are INSTANTLY AWARE of everything you are not good at. When you draw with pencil you can erase your mistakes... not in life drawing.
     We eventually learned its not about being ACCURATE and replicating a true depiction of the model. but to capture something .. deeper. You try capture the 'feeling and energy' of the GESTURE.  (if you didn't notice I capitalized and bloded the word gesture. That means I'm trying to make a point.) I'm not drawing wrinkles in the clothes and every single finger, but I'm drawing ONE line that goes from the head to the toe with in a second. I am overlapping, and drawing over the whole body in one line that never leaves the paper, not worrying about mistakes and smudges my hand leaves. Because when you finish 2 hours later.. It all comes together. Those 'mistakes' help support and add energy to a drawing I could never really quite capture back in the day when I use to copy. Copying another drawing is copying 2D and translating it to 2D again. Drawing things from 3D to a 2D surface is a whole different world.

      Some people life draw very accurately, some people life draw very abstractly.. Learn to do it both ways. Don't worry about what you are drawing BUT HOW YOU ARE DRAWING IT. No one will ever see what you see, so they will never compare your drawing to the real model and criticize you. What they will do is criticize your drawing and how you did it.

- 'But but.. DANNY, the model moved and Thats why my drawing looks bad. Its not my fault.'

       Hey well guess what. It is your fault that you created a bad drawing. The models job is not to stay still, the models job is to give you a concept, an idea of a pose. The model plants the seed and you take what the model gives you and then YOU create from that. You are not copying, if the model moves, that should be no problem to you bc you are to of already captured the gesture within the first minute of the pose SO that if the model does move you already have the foundation of the original pose on your paper. You are on to blame for YOUR drawing, not the model because as far as they care, they have nothing to do with your drawing.

     Life drawing teaches you not to be precious with your drawing. It may have something to do that after an hour you probably have made over 60 drawings. Who has time and the energy to care about that many drawings?? When one copies OF COURSE you get precious over drawings bc you probably spend weeks on one drawing.
     Everything you did learn while you were copying does not go to waste, you just become efficient and learn how to do all your tricks faster. Your skills become second nature. It is essential to do life drawing with an instructor, even if you do not agree with their style or notes, bc no matter what you think, what they have to say is important and will only add to your knowledge and skills. If you find your self ever saying, 'I don't want to hold the stick sideways to draw, its not my style." You might as well use the money you're paying for your art school to wipe your own ass. Try everything that is told to you. Use every medium offered to you, learn how to create and let your style come through in all mediums and techniques. Learn how to do things academically, then learn how to do things experimentally. Then last but not least learn how to do things in your own way. Break out of your comfort zone often and early.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Drawing 101: Training Your Eye

"There are two ways of thinking about painting, how     not to do it and how to do it; how to do it -- with much drawing and little color; how not to do it -- with much color and little drawing." 
(Letter to Theo van Gogh, April 1882)

      No matter what style you might draw/paint in, it is essential to at least know how to depict things with accurately. The foundation of being able to do so, is knowing how to judge proportions. When I judge proportions while life drawing, I try don't rely too much on my background knowledge of anatomy. I try to judge and draw with what my eye sees instead. Learn how to OBSERVE! Things I might say to myself while I draw, "Well from this angle the head is half the length or her thigh.. her right thigh is parallel to her left arm, and it looks like her head also lines up with her left arm but it obviously doesn't have the same angle as her right thigh. Therefore her head has an angle of its own I have to reflect in my drawing." etc etc... (notice how I talk about parts and not the body as a whole.. You must learn to see and draw the parts that make the 'whole'. You use the 'whole' to guide the over all direction of the smaller parts it consists of so that they exist and look as one.)  

      Looking at a model, a building, an object with this mindset/perspective is not easy. Its a very technical way of looking at your subject in order to get an accurate drawing. Thats why life drawing WITH a teacher is always more beneficial to you than drawing alone because they point out where your eye is weak in observing the subject. The teacher guides you. 

      When I was in high school we didn't have classes like I had in college. So I had to find my own way to improve and start training my eyes. The easiest way to start training your eyes to start learning how to line things up and see the PARTS of your subject instead. Using a grid is a simple example of using lines to guide your drawing. Soon with enough training you will be able to use the same technique with out any visual aids. But if you are just starting to learn how to draw, stick with a grid until you can use it to draw your pictures very accurately. 
      - To use a grid, you grab a picture and draw a grid over it. how many lines the grid has is up to you. But make sure that the grid on your drawing paper is pretty much exactly the same!
too-big and too-small grids - Then start section by section. Look at the parts that make the whole and draw the shapes they make and not the subject. Look for negative and positive shapes (if you do not know what I mean USE GOOGLE.. you have all of mankind's knowledge at your fingertips. start tapping into it by googling something for yourself. you'll be glad you did.)
a grid drawing in progress
Here, the Helen South (awesome tutorial instructor) started to cover parts of the picture so that they could focus on a section of the drawing. 

the grid lines act as  reference points
Remember I mentioned something about positive and negative shapes? on the right hand side: the negative shape is shaded in. You can think of a negative shape as: the space that your subject does not occupy. Notice where the edge of the jug crosses the grid line (is that half way? 1/3? 1/4th?? ) and make sure that your drawing does the same.
      When I was younger I would love to use the grid to draw some of my favorite characters and pictures. Always keep in mind: copying is not the goal! Training your eye is! As soon as you are good at using the grid to replicate drawings, then its time to move on to other techniques such as life drawing and depicting things that are in front of you. To many people get comfortable  and content with themselves in being able to copy very realistically. but when you ask them to draw a face from real life.. they are unable to. This is because copying only deals with LINES not FORM. One must learn to draw things with volume and form. You can not learn this from just copying flat pictures. This is why its important to move on and to not become content with being able to just copy. Your imagination dies when you get stuck copying. 

      I drew this in high-school using a grid on a 3in X 6in magazine photo. 

   This is the first post of a 3. Next will be a little more about whats the next step to do to develop your eye. I hope this post helped out any readers who need the help! And for those who are just curious, I hope it gave you insight into a perspective you might not be familiar with. Happy drawing. 

Thanks for reading,  -Danny