Friday, 1 October 2010

Day Two: City Lit Fine Art with Tony Hull

This was another great session. Challenging and very tiring but ultimately satisfying. This was a proper lesson over five hours, starting this time with an established complete still life: again with a range of infuriatingly difficult shapes that I am starting to get familiar with. It began with twenty minutes to get down the first best guess. No direct measuring, just by eye. As before a lot of distortion and in my case, no sense that my eye was any more practiced than it had been. Painful, but Tony is very clear that this is just a ranging shot: getting something down. It will not last long. After 20 minutes we all went round and looked at each others and marked on the drawings  what we thought was the most interesting space on the drawing. We returned to find a series of crosses on our own, in my case clustered around a central conjunction of shapes.
 We were then asked to find a considerably smaller frame that took in the area that had attracted the most attention. Once we had found that we then rubbed down the rest of the drawing leaving a ghost of our first efforts. This was very satisfying, to essentially dim out the rest of the drawing leaving just the bit you were interested in.
 The idea was to still leave the residue of the original effort but in my case the effect was a bit muted. In some of the others, this dimming effect worked really well and almost created another idea for a drawing.

  Then the task was to expand the new cropped version into the full page. However, we were also going to return to the still life and really get this new composition to be accurate: measuring, negative space, proportion and perspective. Laying in guidelines as before gave an extra linear element to the drawing which i would like to have retained.The trouble was that this then changed the composition yet again as items slipped off the edge and others came in. Notice the bowl, which in my first sketch and frame is almost out: when properly positioned it ends up being well into the bottom half of the picture. At this stage I also had retained some of the marks relating to first efforts. There is no doubt that these are interesting and I regretted losing them as the drawing progressed.

The next stage was to approach shading. Tony suggested that we start by identifying anything that was in the bottom third of the grey scale and to draw any shape in this range solid black: regardless of whether it necessarily 'made sense'.  I found this a really valuable exercise as I have always had trouble hitting the hard blacks, which has meant that a lot of my drawings lack strong black tones. With these blacks the drawing took on an abstract look, which was quite pleasing in itself.
For the last stage (after over four hours on this drawing), it was about modifying the hard blacks where appropriate with a some mid tones. This was also a time to start working with the rubber to find and accentuate the highlights.Leaving a good strong drawing, but as ever, slightly over worked and because of the work with the rubber, missing enough of the  drawing history to add that extra ingredient that has been such a feature of these two days' work.

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