On Thursday nights we gather at the atelier and draw the model. This would be the Santa Cruz Academic Drawing Guild from the Neoteric Renaissance School of Art. There are eight of us and we are a studying the sight-size method of drawing. I am the new kid on the block, or at the easel. The drawing below is the second session of my first five week pose. I humbly post it because it is not much different from last week. However, the by the end of drawing tonight I felt like I had made giant strides from last week’s start. Artists Lisa Silas and Jonathan Chorn were both there giving critique tonight and each one gave me some really helpful advice. Lisa watched me draw and pointed out that I was leaning into the drawing at the end of my measurements before I make a mark. She showed me the correct form. Understanding and stopping this one behavior literally made the world stand still, finally so I could draw something. Then Jonathan came by and reminded me to make the measurement marks on the side of my page next to where I see the actual model standing. That made it much quicker for me to “fit” my model into my framework. I didn’t make much progress on the page tonight but I sure made some leaps in my understanding of the method. I also am coming to appreciate what a physical act this method of drawing is. Tonight as I type this my feet and my eyes feel like stretched taffy. If your interested in the sight-size method of drawing check out the link above or the Wikipedia entry for Atelier. Cheers until Tuesday~
(PS. I am so impatient to actually draw something appealing using this method I can almost taste it! But as it is said, you cannot push the river…)
Every Tuesday and Thursdays I draw in the studio while Lisa is working on her art. She spends a lot of time with me, especially right now as I am just starting out. This time is invaluable to me and I learn so much from her thoughts and input.
Today I finished up my Brague eye #2 and started a Brague figure which will take a week, I hope. They eye took a week so this might take a little longer. Major victory with the eye! I finally groked what Lisa was looking for. It was not just correct angles, and lengths but to replicate the drawing exactly – line thickness, line endings, curves – exactly, using only lines and my pencil. She said I could use charcoal to get a stronger line but I fought with the charcoal and it became more of a distraction from the study. I will save charcoal for when I am a little more fluent with my eye and hand.
I am pleased with the eye but that confidence did not last long as I started in on the figure. Again the struggle set in early as I tried to find my orientation on the page. Everything I have ever learned about drawing is like in a separate box in my head right now. I all am dots and lines. I barely felt like I was drawing. I had good results from this effort, the measured dots and lines, thoughtful results.
But noooo, I wanted to “draw” so I rushed into the chest chanting in my head “trust your eye, trust your eye, use the force Luke,” ya something like that…” Stepping back, to my amazement I got a couple of the lines close to correct and the chest looked like a chest. But this is the point of it all… it did not look like the chest I was trying to draw and I could not tell you why.
This is why we learn this stuff – measure, why take our time, connect the dots, measure, connect – so we learn to see and to draw what we see. We are not simply ‘drawing’, we are studying. Lisa explained that is why what we do is called a ‘study’. We are looking, and looking again, exploring relationships in space, learning to memorize what we see so that we can translate it into marks.
Now if I can get to the drawing as well as I get to the thinking… I will make some real progress.
I’m home from a really long day of drawing and helping out at the studio. I got a couple hours of Bargue in this morning and Lisa had me switch from the pencil to charcoal because I was working in very thin marks and some of the Bargue lines are quite thick in some places. I made very, VERY little progress but I was less than focused, tuning into all of the exciting energy in the studio. Note to self – make myself focus more when I am there in the mornings drawing. Tonight was the drawing guild. My second live figure drawing ever and the start of a five week pose. It was by far the hardest night of drawing that I have had. For a while there I just kept drawing my center line with the plumb because it was the only thing that seemed to not move around and be in the same place after I looked away for a second. I struggled with which eye to close, when to look over my glasses, where to stand, how to stand, how far away to stand from the easel. How to make marks lighter, how to make marks at all. Everything was a struggle tonight and at one point I just wanted to give it up. I won’t of course and I consider the fact that I felt that much struggle a sure sign of growth, but my goodness. In the last fifteen minutes I actually got some stuff on the paper but a lot of it felt like it was fiction and I wasn’t really “seeing” it. When I double checked and re-measured, a few of those lines were actually spot on. This made me happy and I left with a glimmer of encouragement. So, this weekend it is daily Bargue for me. To bed now…
In exchange for administration work I am doing for the school I am able to receive some one on one teaching from Lisa for three hours two or three times a week. We are starting where most traditional atelier educations in drawing start – with the Bargue Drawing system. I did my first Bargue drawing plate and it took me three hours. By the end of it I was able to somewhat see a line a millimeter off it’s true path. My weary head would say “wow, that is really close” and my eye would say “something is not exactly right”. There is a larger lesson in that little fight between the eye and the weary mind. I expect many larger lessons in the grand journey that I am so blessed to be able to be on. PS. I have already made minute corrections to this drawing… maybe it is time to start a new plate!
Drawing Guild work at the Neoteric Rennassance School of Art. First night. Three hours, a model and six other drawers. First figure drawing and preliminary introduction to the classical sight-size method with walk around feedback and critique from teachers Lisa Silas and Jonathan Chorn from the Florence Academy of Art. This is my first entry in the journal and as you can see I have a long, long way to go. I feel excited and very fortunate to be able to embark on this journey with Lisa and Jonathan at their school!