Thursday, March 7, 2013

Creative Every Day: Five


One of my regrets from my time at Hollins is dropping Jennifer Anderson's class in figure drawing. I realize now that the experience would have been worth any grade above a "D," but at the time I was so tangled up in perfectionism that I didn't see how I could complete the daily drawing and all of the larger projects. I may have saved my GPA from losing the coveted summa cum laude, but I lost an extraordinary opportunity to learn an immense amount about drawing the figure from life. So now I am left to muddle through on my own. I have to admit that the embossed letters on my diploma have not been of particular help. One skill I did master in in my pursuit of that Latin phrase is the art of the library search. It is capable of solving most problems. I exaggerate only slightly. A lot of the art books in the RVL catalogues are fluff and not particularly helpful, but there are a few gems.

One book that I have started to study and that I think will be very helpful is Master Class in Figure Drawing, lectures by Robert Beverly Hale compiled and edited by Terence Coyle. Coyle writes in his preface ,"Beginners see detail first. Consequently, their structure usually falls apart from the start" (11). If I had been in a revival meeting, I could not have been more pierced through with conviction. This is what I do. I am not confident of being able to capture the whole figure or scene so I start with a tiny part. It is easier to convince myself that I am capable of getting the eye or the hand right than it is to convince myself that I can accurately sketch the entire figure. So I start with the eye. Then I add the ear. Each is only a little off. But somehow they do not seem to belong to each other.

"Experienced artists," Coyle asserts, "see masses--big, simple, abstract elements which they first arrange on their paper or canvas--and then may proceed to more detail, which is incorporated into the dominant abstract design" (11). So this is what I am trying to do. It is hard. Not just the doing of it, but the showing of it to others. When one starts with the larger shapes. It is glaringly obvious when one does not know what one is doing, when one cannot comprehend the relationship between parts of the whole. So the sketches may grow worse for a while. But I think in the long run, this approach is a good plan.

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