Not too very long ago, I thought that really good artists (writers included) got it exactly right the moment they laid pencil to paper. When I write posts I spend exponentially more time editing than on the first draft. When I draw I correct and correct and correct some more.
Not too very long ago, I learned that this is what 90% of artists, writers, dancers, singers etc. do . . . adjust, correct, redo, undo . . . and it never will be perfect. It’s knowing when to stop and move on.
It’s a great metaphor for life. We keep adjusting, correcting and practicing, knowing we can’t get it perfect . . . just better.
There’s a phenomena going on in the sketching world called Urban Sketching. People, from all over the world, gather in public places and sketch whatever is in front of them .
You sketch fast, just trying to get an impression rather than an exact likeness. Coffee shops are a favorite place for Urban Sketchers because the people aren’t moving quite as quickly as on the street or a football field.
I live in the suburbs where life is a bit slower and so is the sketching. Here’s a few of my
Had a hard time concentrating and my arms were hurting when I tried to draw. I’m blaming it on the rain . . . a convenient fall-guy (pun intended). When my drawings don’t turn out as well as I would like I usually blame it on the model.
You can see some of the structure lines & corrections in these 2 minute sketches.
The model held onto a rope in the poses. We were suppose to concentrate on the angles.
These below were 20 minute poses but I could only draw for about 10 minutes.
Usually, I use large drawing paper and stand at an easel. This session I drew on a smaller sketch pad and sat down. I figured if the model could sit
During the break in the life-drawing class a few of us talked to the model. She said most people had no idea what life drawing was and believed that nude modeling was akin to porn! When asked what she did for a living her answer was “posing for people who were learning anatomy”.
First, It never occurred to me that most people weren’t familiar with life drawing. Second, her answer made sense. When drawing a nude model students are intensely focused on the anatomy, the line & shading that emphasizes or de-emphasizes the muscle structure, the curve of the spine and the “personality” of the pose – not on nudity.
It’s a bit like reading an engrossing story. Your focus is on the plot line, the images created, the messages conveyed, not whether the” book” is hard-covered, paperback or on a tablet.
I was pleased with this sketch as it catches the likeness of the model.
Wasn’t so pleased with this sketch so I took out colored crayons and just scribbled. Still not pleased but it was fun!
New model – not an ounce of body fat on the boy. The majority of students are well into their 60’s. I made note of how many of the women asked him to return to model ! . . I myself prefer the models with a bit of ballast around their belly. Gives me more room for error.
This class I ventured out of my comfort zone, put away eraser and went for it with permanent ink and no preliminary sketch in pencil.
Notice the box? I keep trying to draw within the box so the figure doesn’t run off the page. Here’s my result!
My friend Peggy and I are working on a new project to share our stash of therapeutic strategies, tips and tricks on the internet. In my exuberance, “playing” with settings for the new web-site, I mistakenly changed the theme setting for this blog . . . and can’t figure out how to change it back again . So Curious to the Max has a new look, in case you didn’t notice.
And in case you didn’t notice we had a new model in class. All these sketches were 15 minutes done with water-color pencil.
There are two “fronts” and two “backs” (She was sitting on a poofy cushion).
AND in case you don’t see the connection between my blog change and my sketches: Clicking a button on the computer and irreversibly changing the blog template is like drawing with water-color pencil. I can’t erase or correct either of them.
(Well, not actually “worser” but I try to avoid trite phrases like “bigger and better”.)
In case you’ve not noticed . . . my drawings all go off the page. I don’t mind the aesthetics of that but I want to be able to do it “by design”. I try framing, measuring, planning . . . as the drawing progresses the limbs or head (or both) end up off of the paper.
The life drawing teacher suggested I get a BIG board to work on a BIG piece of paper to get the entire torso on the page. So much for bigger . . .
(Showing my hand on the paper to give you a sense of the scale).
Since my “vertigo episode” I’ve been in a fibromyalgia flare-up, complete with exhaustion. Today I peeled myself out of bed, put on my best duds and went to class to draw a dude. Can you guess which one is me?
After spending 3 hours drawing a nude dude this is what I looked like . . .
Many, if not most, of my posts over the years have regaled you, my loyal readers, with bits of what I find interesting and curious. (ex. Two of my all time most viewed and informative posts were about Butterfly fish and the Singles Scene and Stoned Fish.)
Since I’ve been taking life drawing classes there are not many articles that go along with drawings of nudes that meet the G-rating of my blog.
In class the teacher has been talking about the skeleton of the body and today I found a very interesting article about a discovery of a new species of dinosaur in Australia that is in keeping with this instructional focus!!!!
“Paleontologists have discovered a new species of dinosaur in Australia. The wide-hipped, long-necked, four-legged plant-eater was about half the length of a basketball court, and its shoulders stood as high as the hoop.”
This model was a slim-hipped, long-necked, two-legged vegetarian who was the full length of my paper and her shoulders alternately drooped and stood high, depending on the pose.
“Savannasaurus skeleton is one of the most complete sauropods to be discovered in Australia. Based on its skeleton, it was probably about 50 feet long, with a long neck and a wide, round body — weighing in at 40,000 pounds, as much as three African elephants combined. Dinosaur fossils in Australia are exceedingly rare, and this discovery could help scientists understand how these massive creatures spread across the planet millions of years ago.“
. . . that would take one humongous piece of paper to draw it . . .
Ten days into walking like a drunken sailor without the drink or the sailing. My husband drove me to art class. It was nice to get out of the house. The vertigo is much better but I’m still a bit wobbly.
At first, looking back and forth from the model to the drawing pad was a bit disorienting and I was very tired after class – probably because my brain was working hard to compensate.
The focus for this session was using brown wrapping paper, black and white charcoal.
I have little energy and my hip is sore . Usually, I stand at the easel when drawing but my hip is so sore this week I sat. I’ve been stretching my hip and back every day but scritching and scratching at the art.
When the teacher saw this she commented that it looked like someone sitting at a bus stop! She said it kindly and I agreed. So I quickly scribbled, skritched and scratched over the original. At least now it looks like the bus has just arrived.
This was an exercise on finding reference points in the room to draw the figure. I spent so long finding the points that I didn’t have time for the figure!
I was fading fast and so were my drawings!
Hopefully, next class, instead of scritch and scratch I’ll stretch with the art.
“Third Man Records is pleased to share the genius surprise gift they received from their friend MICHEL GONDRY. On his own and without anyone’s knowledge, the legendary filmmaker shot a video for “City Lights,” which he sent them the other night. The video is Gondry’s fifth visual collaboration with The White Stripes. “City Lights” was written for The White Stripes’ GET BEHIND ME SATAN but then forgotten until White revisited the 2005 album for Third Man’s Record Store Day 2015 vinyl reissue and finished the recording in 2016. The track is the first new, worldwide commercially released song by The White Stripes since 2008.”
“If anybody wants me to say it, in one sentence, what my plays are about: They’re about the nature of identity. Who we are, how we permit ourselves to be viewed, how we permit ourselves to view ourselves, how we practice identity or lack of identity.” Edward Albee
Most of the models in the life drawing classes have been posing for a long time. They come equipped with props and pillows and strike dramatic poses that I defy anyone in “real” life to take . . . unless you’re an exotic dancer.
The young man, VERY young man, who was the model in the last two life drawing classes had never modeled before. He appeared to be shy and very unsure of himself.The first session he posed stiffly.
This second session he began to soften, wrapping his arms around himself as if to create a bit of comfort or perhaps protection. It may also have been that it was cold in the room . . . even for those of us wearing clothes.
Art teachers explain that drawing isn’t about what the hand is doing it’s about training our eye to see what it actually sees rather than the internal image of what we THINK we see.
Right now my drawings are about trying to learn to view shapes and shadows, lines and limbs . . . and hopefully have my hands follow. Someday, it would be nice to say the same thing Edward Albee said . . . that my drawings are about the nature of identity.
Sara Blakely’s embrace of failure has helped make her the youngest self-made female billionaire in America.She invented Spanx (body-shaping undergarments – the modern version of the corset and girdle).
When she was growing up, her father would often ask her the same question at dinnertime.
“What have you failed at this week?”
I was AGHAST – failure!? What a horrible father. Everyone knows we are supposed to focus on and revel in success.She went on to say:
“My dad growing up encouraged me and my brother to fail. The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”
What a novel idea! Embrace failure as a sign of taking risks, learning and growing. Failure is a victory not a defeat.
“The fact that I had never taken a business class, had no training, didn’t know how retail worked,” she said. “I wasn’t as intimidated as I should have been.”
I read herinterview just before my life drawing class. It was liberating!! I gave myself permission to fail at trying to draw perfect likeness, perfect proportions, perfect shading.
My new motto: Fail Away!
. . . it’s never too late to become the oldest self-made billionaire in the United States.
New semester for art classes just started. Here are my best sketches (you didn’t think I’d post my worst, did you?). I particularly am pleased with the first as I managed to catch the likeness of the model.
At Judy Formato’sPainting on the Patio (POP) art group the topic of marijuana came up.
Several of the woman, who shall remain anonymous, (we are all well over the age of 50 or 60 or 70) admitted to inhaling in their youth. It was a pertinent topic (for those of us well over the age of 50 or 60 or 70) relating to pain medication for maladies that come with maturity.
Researcher Staci Gruber is “. . . trying to determine the long and short-term impact of medical marijuana on cognition, brain structure and function, quality of life, sleep, and other clinical measures.
“People drive two to three hours sometimes to get [here for] the study,” Gruber said. “They’re really committed. They really want to know what effect this will have on them.”
“As they wait for long-term results, MIND researchers have made a few interim discoveries. They have found, for example, that marijuana could possibly ease symptoms for people with bipolar disorder and that a medication for strokes and Alzheimer’s disease may reverse the cognitive effects of chronic recreational marijuana use.”
Perhaps our POP group could volunteer – we can drive and are VERY committed women.
I think we qualify.
Oh, by the way, here’s what I painted at POP.
I wonder why they don’t use rats for this study – they use them for all the others?
I knew about people who do travel sketch books – instead of taking photos they sketch. I knew about plein air painters who set up their easels and paint nature. I didn’t know about the groups of artists who take to the streets all over the world and sketch.
They call themselves Urban Sketchers. The supplies need to be portable and compact – small sketchbooks, pencil, pen and watercolor seem to be the main tools of the trade. People and buildings are the main focus.
You have to be fast and just capture the essence of what you see. People move, get up, leave. Sometimes I draw the arm of one person on the body of the other, furiously freeze a tiny moment in time hoping people don’t get up, come over and demand I stop staring at them. Then I “clean up” the mini sketches – erase lines, add a splash of color.
At the POP (Painting on the Patio) gathering yesterday I couldn’t get inspired to paint so I pulled out my mini sketchbook and “cleaned up” some of my sketches:
Can’t call myself an Urban Sketcher cuz I don’t sit on street corners or stand by light poles. I sketch people while I wait for doctors’ appointments, get my computer fixed or tires rotated.
Since I live in the suburbs it seems a bit pretentious to call my self a suburban sketcher. Stealth Sketcher is much more like it.
Judy Formatocollects people – from bus rides, parties, meetings and invites them to her “POP” gatherings – Painting on the Patio. Yesterday I met her collection of very talented and welcoming women who have been meeting for 3 years to paint, chat and share resources.
Most of the women were doing water-color. I experimented with my newly purchased pastels to color two of my quickie life drawing sketches I had done in class.
The afternoon was topped off with wine and snacks. Judy served a verrrrry tasty egg plant dip that had zing from some delicious pepper sauce imported by the family fine Italian food companyFormato Brothers.
The theme for July is “Journey”. Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday. The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.
People could share as much or as little as they chose. It was a wonderful group of women. (All you men, where are you?!!!!)
Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!
To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!
“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith
The general consensus among my women art classmates is they prefer drawing female curves rather than male muscles. Next week I’ll ask the men. One of the women said her husband was VERY upset she would take a class where the focus was staring at nude men.
For these sketches I threw muscles to the wind and just drew. I took a few liberties (like cutting off the models head because he was wearing a ridiculous helmet which I refused to draw and beefing him up a bit to match my own fantasies . . .)
I’m only sharing the back views I drew . . . don’t want to upset any of YOU that I’ve been staring at full frontal nude men . . .
Been doing and redoing drawings to amuse myself. These were originally quick sketches from life drawing. I “colorized” them trying to teach myself how to use pastel. It’s easier to practice on sketches I was going to throw away because there’s nothing to lose!!
You’ve not heard from me for a while. It’s not that I’ve forgotten YOU it’s just that I’ve had nothing inspiring me and for those of you who have followed my blog for a long time know it’s ultimately ALL ABOUT ME.
Yesterday I started a summer art class – life drawing.Drawing still-lifes and such (you know the kind where the instructor wants you to draw a block of wood, a vase with an artificial flower and a porcelain doll who stares straight ahead with malice in her eye) just isn’t my “thing”. I’ve got nothing against still-lifes mind you (my life has been still on more than one occasion) but I prefer real flesh.
Here’s my first foray into real flesh since my one life drawing class in 1966. I was pleased . . . with the drawings, of course.
I woke this morning feeling like a truck hit me, threw me onto the train tracks where I was run over by a locomotive.
AND lo and behold . . .
. . . today is National Fibromyalgia Day. I’m in no mood to celebrate but the Fibro-Fiends that dwell inside me are having a ball!
I’m too tired to write an entirely new post to post on this post so I’ll just post part of a post of a post that I posted sometime ago. . . . .
“I look normal, I act normal(relatively normal). However, I feel exhausted much of the time, my body aches from head to toe and my brain sometimes has trouble remembering or concentrating. Please don’t tell me to exercise more, eat better, try acupuncture or go to a new doctor. After 20 years I’ve tried just about everything there is to try that I can afford, swallow or legally do.”
“I don’t even care anymore what you call it: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, malingering . . . it’s just tiring being tired much of the time. I push through it otherwise I’d have no life. But the price for pushing can be days of crashing so I pick and choose my commitments.”
Confidential: Send me your prayers because tomorrow I’m leaving for an Unitarian Woman’s Retreat where I’m facilitating 2 workshops. (I am not planning on taking my Fibro-Fiends with me. Please don’t tell anyone because if the Fiends get wind I want to leave them home they will be angry . . . very angrrrrrrrrry . . .)
My computer crashed the day after our last HeART of Spirituality at Tapestry Unitarian Church. I’ve been cyberless for days. I tried using my husband’s computer but it drrrrrrrrrove me crrrrrrrrrrrazy. If I didn’t have the correct attitude it did weird and unexpected things. I never realized how spoiled I was on an Apple MacBook.
It also was weird . . . I missed YOU – bloggers, subscribers, cyber friends – more than I missed the computer.
Now that I’m back on-line I can show you the Contemplation Cards everyone made. Here’s a sample and if you want to see ALL 9 cards click here:
Here’s my semi-weekly Did you Miss Me!!!!!??????? post.Lately, it seems like every other week I’m blogged-out. As my energy (and attention) waxes and wanes so too my posting.
The last art classes produced these projects. The first was sketching onto a plastic plate and then using water soluble color to print.
In the portrait classwe had 3 hours to create a portrait of a real live man. And although I’ve been known to take liberties with the models . . .like adding arms where there are none. . . I didn’t make up his hair-do.
I know, I KNOW, you’ve missed me this past week(I do NOT want to know if you didn’t). In my life long effort to be better focused I tried to cut down on my computer time . . . browsing the internet, reading blog posts, watching videos, reading the news . . . AND posting. It really worked except for browsing the internet, reading blog posts, watching videos and reading the news.
With all the time I’ve gained by not postingI’ve been gardening and messing around with sketching. I tried (tried being the operant word) to use my new pastels to do a realistic portrait.
The lady I drew (using a famous portrait as a reference) was so ugly I was embarrassed to show her in public. So I just had fun and gave her a cosmetic make-up. The background got to be so ugly and muddied I just cut it away. She’s no beauty either but I had nothing else to post . . .
Now that I’ve posted I’m on to browsing the internet, reading blog posts, watching videos and reading the news.
What did I learn today in class? Drawing is just like life!
I used to think that great artists, good artists got it right on the first pass. It’s taken me 7 decades to understand that all artists continually make corrections. Draw, adjust, erase, draw, redraw, erase . . .
Luckily, it only took me 5 decades to figure out that life was about continually making corrections. That reminds me . . . I need a new eraser.
Here’s my sketches for today – One is loose and the other uptight
In my drawing class we’re suppose to rapid sketch every day. I’ve been rather lax so decided to participate (sorta) in the on-line #CreativeSprint to do something creative every day. I figure if I do 3 sketches at one time it counts as 3 days for both the class and the sprint. I’m ahead of the game! Here’s 14 days worth:
Attended a painting workshop today at Art & Creativity for Healing a wonderful non-profit for which I helped facilitate workshops many years ago.
Laurie Zagon the founder and creator of the Art4Healing® method has created a wonderful vehicle to express feelings using color. It’s not about making “art” but about processing thoughts, feelings and experiences using paint. Today’s workshop was “Painting Hope”.
The paintings are done very rapidly so that intuition rather than artistic skill is the focus. And it’s hard to be skillful when make-up sponges and q-tips are used instead of brushes!
Please check outArt 4 Healing.org. Their mission is to support emotional healing through art & creative expression for those living in pain, grief, fear or stress.
There are on-line video workshops available to everyone, anywhere. Proceeds go towards providing free workshops to organizations such as wounded veterans, Children’s Hospital and woman’s shelters.
In art class we had a live model for the first time. We were to do a fast sketch to acquaint ourselves with her facial features. She was a striking young woman with distinct features.
My initial 15 minute charcoal sketch looked like a wild animal had attacked. I admit to being a bit embarrassed when the model walked by looking at all our sketches. It’s one thing botching up a plaster castand another maiming a live beautiful face.
The remaining time in class was spent doing the model’s portrait in chalk pastels. (Confession: The teacher helped me since I’ve never worked with pastels.)
I was not going to post either the initial sketch because it wasn’t “perfectly executed” nor my pastel since my teacher helped.
Then Anne Lamott, the author, came to mind. In her book Bird by Bird she talks about how the writer should just spill it all out, create the “shitty first draft”. That’s how good writers get to the second, third and polished last drafts.
When I look at the portrait I see flashes of myself – mostly the pain I’ve been in. There wasn’t time in class to finish . . . another work in progress, like me.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”
I’ve been struggling with my health and it’s been hard sitting through 3 hours of art class.
Our first assignment was to do a black and white of a plaster lady whose arm was cut off above her elbow.Ouch.
I missed the last class, deciding the fetal position I was in was more conducive to “licking my wounds” than doing it in public. Having no physical reference to finish the arm-less lady I explored the new medium of chalk pastel (new to me) and threw color around . . . and made things up . . .
I put her arm back because I wouldn’t want to be immortalized without my arm . . . even if I was plaster. Would you?
It’s under JUDYwesterfield – as opposed to JUDITHWesterfield. (It probably should be reversed since judy is definitely not as serious as Judith).
As always, it’s been a steeeeeeep learning curve trying to figure out a new blog template (which I might change) but it helps keep me occupied so I don’t have to focus on cleaning, thinking, washing, aches and pains or yard work.
Here’s my latest journal page for those of you who don’t want to subscribe to yet another blog and/or click on the above links.
My husband looked at it and asked who I wanted to strangle! I just smiled knowingly . . .