Sunday, 17 January 2016

Leonardo? Vincent? Claude?

I had an interesting week, having signed up for a Fundamental Drawing class at Albany Summer School some months ago. The day finally dawned and I nervously made my way into town, giant sheets of paper flapping under my arm, sharpened pencils and a box of charcoal tucked away in my bag. Ten of us sat around the room like new kids at school, but we were soon to be put at ease by our friendly and chilled out tutor, an artist from Denmark by the name of Peter Usher. 

Firstly we had to start with contour drawing, drawing the outline of a shape, in this case our hand, without looking! Holy cow. We all laughed at our crap efforts :-) Apparently doing this helps your brain and your hand to communicate, and the more you do it the better you get at it.
Peter plonked a potted frangipani in the middle of the room and we worked on that all morning.  We contour drew it, learned about working out sizing of one part compared to another part, then we picked up our charcoal to try and find the basic shapes and tonal values.  I've never used charcoal before and found it rather daunting to begin with, but by the end of the week I loved using charcoal!  I might add that we all hated that frangipani by the end of the session ha ha
 I doodled a bit with my new found courage with charcoal.
 The next morning's lesson was about perspective.  We learned about horizon lines and vanishing points and measuring with our eye, and measuring by holding our pencil out in front of us, making us look like true arteeeests :-)  I enjoyed this lesson very much and was happy with my angles and form of the metal desk that Peter had put in the middle of the room for us to draw.
The following day we learned about grid work, and how to use it to upscale the size of a drawn object.  We all had to draw a quick outline of our keys, then grid it up and regrid it larger, then warped, and redraw it into the larger grid.  It was surprising how accurately this method can help with upscaling.
Then Peter bunged some bones, furniture and a basket into the middle of the room, we had to draw the collection as a whole really quickly as a contour outline, then we had to choose a section of it and concentrate on that.  Most of us chose the ram skull and horns as it was interesting, although quick tricky and we ran out of time.  Mine is top right.
Day four Peter brought in a beautiful handmade harp and put it in the centre of the room.  The first thing we had to do was draw it really fast, in 30 seconds, then 60 seconds, then 90 seconds and then 5 minutes.  That was very interesting, I think all of us, myself included, thought that our 30 second drawing was the best from the point of view of overall shape.  Which goes to show that you have to trust yourself.  We all thought by now that our contour drawing was improving too, although we were allowed to look this time, just a quick peep at junction points to check we weren't going too far off course.
Then we set about drawing the harp in more detail in pencil, some of the examples of that are in the photo.  Finally on a new sheet we had to colour in our A2 paper completely with charcoal, then draw the harp in that using our erasers.  Mine is the charcoal one in between the two pencil drawings.  It was scary to begin with and I got a bit confused with whether I was drawing a negative or a positive image, but I got the hang of it eventually and rather enjoyed this one and was pleased with the final image.
Peter handed us a little teaspoon each, and using charcoal only, we had to draw the reflected image we could see in the teaspoon.  But instead of drawing, we had to concentrate on the tones, the light and dark, rather than fine details.  We all enjoyed this and were all surprised with how much we liked the finished pieces.  It was amazing how different they all were.  Mine is top left.
The final day we had to choose a section of the tree we could see out the window, and draw that.  We had to accentuate texture and try and work out ways of making it obvious what was trunk and what was leaves.  We all unanimously decided that drawing masses of leaves sucks!  Peter showed me how to contour draw the shape around the edge of a clump of leaves then sort of fill in the rest with scribbly bits, that certainly made it a bit easier but  I still don't like drawing leaves!
Then we all went outside and had to do four drawings, one of bark, one of branches, one of leaves and one of the tree's shadow on the ground.  Then we came back inside, but all the pictures up and plonked them on the floor in a sort of collaborative tree.  Not particularly artistic but it was fun and interesting to look at, and we felt a sort of kinship putting our drawings all together.
So that was it, it was a great week and I really enjoyed it.  I felt like I learned a lot of new skills to help compose a drawing, how to relate the size and shape of something to the rest of the picture was really useful, it's not something I have ever really thought about much.  I have found that my contour drawing is becoming increasingly better and very useful, particularly now as we were allowed to look at what we had drawn, just every now and then to stay on track, keeping the pencil on the paper.  It is a good way to start a drawing, I think it stops you from being too anal, and just helping to get a first vague shape on paper.

Peter also emphasised how helpful it is to carry an art journal around with you as much as possible, and to jot down ideas, draw tiny shapes that appeal to you, sketch somewhere you are that grabs you, anything.  Not to do works of art but to play with ideas, perspectives, shading, everything.  So I am going to try that and started mine a couple of days ago.  I've decided that our water tank will be a good thing to draw regularly, it's quite tricky with all the lines in it, and trying to keep the relationship of the uprights correct.  Not to mention all the shadows and sweeping and wiggly lines of the colorbond it is made of.  I have to remind myself that it is meant to be fun, I am doing only for myself and that there are no exams! :-)

1 comment:

  1. Looks like fun Dy. I'd like t do something like that.