Week 7 class was frustrating for many of us. This was the first week we started working with the casts that Rose has available for us to use, and we will be doing this for the next three weeks as well. Here’s my “cast” as she calls them:
I keep reminding myself that Rose’s motto regarding this class is, “Be the Sloth! Be the slowest person in the room.” All I have to show for it so far is five or six points and the start of a line which I know to be incorrect, and a value scale with a list of where the values fall on this cast. (This is probably the most important part of this exercise!) All of us are having a challenging time, and we’ve only been at it for a couple of hours in class. I’ll post a pic of my progress at the end of the next class.
Work that I’m doing home in my studio includes revisions to the still life from Class 6:
Rose wanted me to focus on lost and found edges and to get rid of as many “lines” as possible. Now I’m falling in love with the drawing and I have to finish it by adding the bottom of the glass. I understand now that the lack of linework in the drawing brings the image to a new level of realism! To do this justice, it needs another 6 hours at least. I’m not so worried about the detail, it is the shading and blending that I am focusing on with this piece.
As I learned in class, you can use a piece of glass to check the curve from one side of a goblet to the other. A sheet of slightly smoked glass or plexiglass would probably do better, but this is what I had at the time. Hold the sheet of glass in the vertical center of your drawing and this allows you to see the reflection of one side cast onto the other.
Here’s an image showing what I mean. In the sheet of glass, you can see a ghost of an image outside the right edge of the goblet. I held the glass at an angle to make the ghosting more obvious. What a great tool to have in your toolbox!
Finally, I went to town on Saturday to find something white that I could draw. There are no white statues in Kona. I went to some thrift stores and finally found this:
I just couldn’t stand drawing something that was badly made, and clowns or dolls are right out. I also didn’t want to do something symmetrical which leaves out bottles, bowls, or vases. My little 75 cent dove will do nicely!
I finally got around to working on my homework for class yesterday, and I hate that I lost time this week. I gave it about 6 hours, since that is what I had available, and it needs at least another 4-6 to make me happy. Between running a business and finishing up a current painting sometimes real life gets in the way.
I didn’t spend as much time with my measurements as I needed to be because I wanted to spend the time practicing my shading. I thought I was careful taking a photograph of my set-up from class and I found out when I sat down to work on my homework, that the real-life image was lower than the image in the camera. All my angles for the ellipses in the glass that I had measured on my drawing had to be corrected. (Good practice, I told myself!) Then, I couldn’t get the proportions from the photo to match the proportions in my drawing. So I used my proportional dividers to scale up from the photographed image to my drawing. Basically, I had to redo the whole drawing from the picture I took because EVERYTHING WAS OFF. Next time it will take me less than an hour and a half to figure that out.
What are proportional dividers you ask? They are an awesome tool for scaling up or down the size of an image. For measuring when you are sight-sizing you can use a compass or a stick to find and record 1:1 measurements, but when you need to scale up or down from the original size, proportional dividers are the tool you want. I knew they existed, and didn’t know how to search for them because I didn’t know what they were called. I now have two pair.
The black dividers are now easy to find online and I see them in stores as well. They are a little clunky and good for basic measurements. These are adjustable by moving that middle knob either further to the left or the right to modify the ratio. Once you figure out what your ratio is, say 1:3, as long as you don’t move that middle screw, everything you measure with the small end (1) will be translated to three times its size on the other end of the dividers.
The second pair is a Russian drafting tool from the 1960s. After trying the black ones, I needed something with more precision.
This is my first drawing on toned paper and I think I like it. I still have to fix stuff and darken down the bowl of the wine glass, and I still like it so far. I’m always amazed when a drawing of mine is recognizable. Isn’t that silly?
There’s so much to do in this class that sometimes I have to be content with just figuring out the concept of what needs to be done and move along. That’s what happened with my cups from the last class; I had to be content with understanding how to measure out the ellipses. I still have the still-life set up, and I may revisit that with toned paper. I haven’t decided if it is the best use of my time though.
We’re on to Lesson 6 I think, and my lack of knowledge bit me in the, uh, backside today. Rose wanted us to do a graduated scale on toned paper using chalk and charcoal to create the entire range. My first attempt was an epic failure because I tried to do the whole thing with soft vine charcoal. I modified it using a couple of my compressed charcoal pencils and it didn’t look much better. I now realize that I have to take all my charcoal pencils and do a graduated scale for each of them to figure out which pencils I want to use, and what gives me the best representation of a ten-step scale to use in a drawing based on the way I draw, so here’s my homework for the night! In due time I will also do one for my graphite pencils. It is great practice and will take my work to a higher level when I train this subtlety into my fingers.
These past few weeks have driven home just how ignorant I am of the use of charcoal in drawings. It never occurred to me that vine charcoal would only be used for initial marks and sketches because it is so powdery and easy to remove. I finally know how to sharpen vine charcoal correctly, using sandpaper and shaping it into a long taper. This, in fact, isn’t really sharpened into a long enough point. It should be longer.
I also need to revise my drawing from Class 5, there’s too much going on with my shot glass, too much detail. Here’s the before:
And here’s the after:
I’ve limited my highlights to a certain section of the glass to reduce the detail.
It’s amazing that there is so much to learn in such short a time. I used to think 12 weeks was a long time, and this is a mightily compressed class!
Figuring out how to work with vine charcoal.
Figuring out which charcoal is used for what. I should have figured that out sooner.
My sight-sizing is getting much better. The addition of new glasses (for vision) made a huge improvement.
Remembering what measurements need to be checked again, and checking everything at least three times.
Ellipses I’m starting to get the hang of. I understand the theory behind them and that is a huge step in the right direction.
Shading with charcoal I haven’t been working on as you can tell from the above image.
My focus right now is sight-size accuracy. I want to get it down on the easy stuff so that when we start statues next Thursday I’m in a good place. I already notice the difference in ease of drawing when I start a new painting, and this process will continue to improve!
The first three paintings are finished and with the photographer now. Here is the fourth, completely different, and very cute. This is a rainbow seahorse, an endangered species, and I thought it was a great way to finish off the series. I’ll post a picture when it’s finished.
Wow, time flies when you’re having fun. Week 4 homework was
a continuation of Week 3’s Bargue drawing, working on the shading
setting up a simple still life and practice sight-sizing on 3-d objects
setting up a simple still life at home and drawing there as well.
I’m astonished at how well my first “bust” turned out. I continue to tweak the shading as I walk away to do something else, then come back to glaring discrepancies. Here, let me repeat this quote just in case you didn’t absorb it the last time I shared it:
“For better or worse, we only have a brief window of opportunity to see and correct mistakes in our work. Over time, we tend to become acclimated to the inaccuracies in our drawings and are unable to see things clearly. Elements that are stilted or distorted can look or feel correct. One simple solution to this problem is to take a break every now and then and remember to stand back from your work occasionally.” Pg. 58, Lessons in Classical Drawing, by Juliette Aristides.
My simple still life set-up:
When you look carefully, you will see that the back-right corner slopes down. The back of my set-up isn’t level. So when I did my measuring from the “straight back horizon line” and the plumb line (the string in the front of the image), my measurements were off. My cone was leaning to the right as it should have been due to the downward angle of the right side of the image. The great news is, I’m getting better at catching this stuff early!
Finally, I worked on Boreas again this week after a couple of weeks off. Here’s where she is now:
For something I didn’t even think I could do, to begin with, I’m impressed!