There were no art classes – because of the holiday – for over a week. For some unexplained reason I began to wonder why I was taking drawing classes. Previous to retirement the only “extra-curricular” activities I did had a purpose – professional enrichment, teaching others, meeting requirements etc. I have no desire (we won’t talk about talent) to exhibit or sell nude drawings . . . For some reason, simply seeking personal enjoyment seemed strange at best and hollow at worst.
I’m still not sure why my disquiet and only share it wondering if you, too, have questioned just doing something simply for self-enjoyment?
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This model was known for his muscular, regal bearing. He has lost weight and thee is a vulnerability that wasn’t apparent before.
20 Minute sketch, conte crayon
10 minute sketch, charcoal
20 minutes sketch, charcoal
As a psychotherapist I knew that one of the biggest pitfalls of all relationships* was “seeing” others through the clouded lens of our own eyes. We humans tend to think everyone feels as we do and should understand what we know. It’s hard to take someone else’s position because we live in the bubble of our unique experiences and interpretations. In psychological terms it’s called projection. I was surprised to see this phenomena in artwork.
During the breaks in life drawing I noticed that many (not all) drew the model in “their own image”: Short students tended to draw the models legs too short; stocky students drew her a bit too stocky and; muscular students created muscular images.
Although all art, whether dancing, singing, painting etc. is ultimately a “projection” of the artist I’m wondering if what sets apart renowned artists from amateurs is a true reflection of the artist rather than an “accurate” rendition of the subject?
Charcoal, 20 minute sketch
Conte Crayon, 20 minute sketch
Each sketch, 20 minutes
To read about the pitfalls of relationships click here:
Mervin the Mole Rat sez: “Her art is a projection of wishful thinking . . .”
The challenge I had as a therapist (not to mention as a human being) was to look beyond surface presentations, what I “thought” I knew and see my client’s situation/feelings/thinking not only from their perspective but within a larger framework.
Being a therapist was a gift. It forever helped me understand that perception always informs and colors my experiences, to look for larger patterns and see beyond what appears “obvious”. Most of the time I can see blessings behind every tragedy, and opportunities created with every mistake & mis-step.
Drawing, too, is about perspective. This session the class was so crowded I had to sit closer to the model stand than usual. It forced me to draw what my eye actually saw rather than what I thought I saw. For example, In the first drawing the foot (or my outline of the foot) is as long as his head – simply because his foot was closer to me.
Bet you can tell what was eye-level to me in this next drawing!
This last sketch was a 2 minute quick warm-up which always begins the drawing sessions to help our hands loosen up and draw what our eyes actually see not what our brains think we see.
The art of perspective is not limited to art.
I didn’t eat all the Cheerios in this box.
Conte Crayon on Cheerios Box
Charcoal on tinted painter’s paper from Hardware store
You can see the corrections in the left arm. Drawing is about making LOTS of corrections, just like life.
Charcoal on paper
Here’s what 1-2 minutes warm-up sketches look like. Suppose to catch the “essence” of the pose – like movement, body position.
Charcoal warm-up sketches
Last day of life drawing for this semester. I’ve missed several classes, something I would have been loathe to do in my high school and college years when I never ditched nor dropped a class.
I distinctly remember the first time I stopped attending a class simply because I no longer enjoyed it. Wish I could say it was a daring and rebellious move . . . it was a community college class that I was taking just for enjoyment. I was in my 40’s and high time for a bit of rebellion . . . don’t you think?
But I digress . . . here’s the best of the last sketches . . . in my opinion
Starting with my favorite
Caught the likeness of both his front and his back . . .
All these sketches were 20 minutes or less. I’ve discovered that my attention span is smack dab in the national average of 20 minutes. Ah . . . the things you learn in drawing class.
Take a peek at the entire class from the beginning 2 minute sketches to the 20 minute poses.
Charcoal, 2 minute poses
Tried water-color pencil for the first time. Discovered it doesn’t ERASE so the first go over needs to be very light.
This model was great. She was more voluptuous than most and I didn’t have to draw muscles!
Water-color pencil. Ended up with 4 breast because I couldn’t erase!
In the sketch below I used an old piece of cardboard backing. If you look you can see the water stains from years past.
Water-color pencil on cardboard
For the last pose the model put clothes on . . . probably because I couldn’t get her breasts symmetrical!
Water-color pencil on water-color paper
I may take these drawings and experiment some more with the water-color.
“I think she’s experimented enough already . . .”
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.
Edward Albee died the other day at 88. He was a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright. He intensely disliked it when asked what his plays were about but finally explained:
“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.
Graphite pencil sketch
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.