Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Day One: City Lit Fine Art Course. Drawing

Started with lots of encouraging introductions (some tedious, but mostly informative and even inspiring). Chris spoke of a big commitment:,. A full day a week for two years certainly feels like a big step. The best bit of the introduction was a run through the mobile portfolio of one of last year's students: a whole years work captured on her mobile. It certainly encouraged me in my modest blog aspirations, but far more significantly it gave us a thoroughly inspiring sense of the journey  she took and we are just embarking on. From drawing to painting to printing to sculpture to photo shop and onward to our own personal project. Best of all was being able to see how she carried themes and ideas from one area of work to the next. Also well chosen because the standard was not dauntingly high but nevertheless showed a strong sense of sustained development and enrichment.

Then, finally, we begun. Tony Hull set us a taxing still life that built up as we drew. Two minutes on one object, then  two minutes on another added object. As each on arrived it compounded the errors you had made with the previous ones. By the time lunch came we had ten objects and a drawing that looked hopeless:

When we returned, Tony challenged us to start relocating the objects. Using negative space, vertical and horizontal locators, rubbing out and shifting each object into its rightful space. Then tackling scale with some proper measuring. Several things happened. There was what felt, at first, like a hopeless knock-on effect. Everything changed, each move affected something else; many objects just drifted off the page. It seemed hopeless, but then the moves themselves became part of the drawing. We were left with a kind of palimpsest of our own first efforts and errors. The lines too became part of the drawing. By the end of the afternoon, it suddenly began to feel like a passably accurate representation of what was there:.

 We had to resist shading and going for detail. Concentrating instead on shapes and relationships. I was seduced into some shading just because so many of the shapes seemed to demand it. But by the end I realized that this sort of finishing tempts you away from the fundamentals of proportion, relationship and the spaces between. What I did wrestle with were the ellipses required for all the bowls. Always more curve than  I could see. As ever it was an exercise, above all, in concentrating on what you can see rather than what you think is there. But also Tony had given me the realization that you can work on drawing int he same we as you work on an oil painting. You can keep kicking it around, pushing and pulling and the very process adds depth.

A great start.

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