February 26, 2011

So on Wednesday we critiqued. As always, I love seeing other people’s work and hearing how other people struggled; especially when other people admit to having the problems that I thought I was just stupid or inexperienced for having. Someone pointed out that she had difficulty using her string simply because the shapes involved were so small, small enough that it was hard to measure them–I absolutely had a similar problem. Someone else commented that there were times where she would forget where she was in the drawing, or couldn’t translate what was on her page to what she was looking at to orient her self–I absolutely had the same problem! It’s also so cool to see what others did to combat the difficulties of the drawing; one student made a grid with string over her slide and then was able to superimpose the grid on her subject–what a great idea! Certainly good enough that I wish I’d thought of it.

What everyone did was amazing, but there are a few that stood out to me in particular. I really love the stark, bare austerity of this one:

I love how it sort of hints at the fact that there’s more (with the way everything goes off the page) but at the same time gives no doubt as to how the shapes can be seen in isolation.

I also really liked the contrast between these two:

I love how they’re similar in composition, with the boxes in the foreground and cut-off chaos in the background and I think the latter drawing almost looks like a more relaxed version of the first.

I’m also enamored of this one, simply due to how different it is:

I have to admit, at first blush I thought this looked more like overlapping planes than anything else (of course, now I don’t know what I was thinking; I think I thought all the horizontal and diagonal lines looked likes intersecting layers?). But once I saw the shapes, I realized this is completely awesome; you can absolutely see all the contrasts in the shading and I just love it.

I also love how this one looks like an open road, going off into the turbulent horizon:

I think the different ways in which we all approached shading and the differences in the scope of our drawings are so cool and I am really excited to see the products of our next project.


Completing shapes

February 21, 2011

(Or attempting to, at least!)

As has been well documented here, I’ve been struggling with this piece. On Wednesday, my first order of business was to do my best to see what the proportions for the bottom half of my work should be. I will say that I saw it slightly more clearly than I had the day before and managed to adjust it at least a little; this is what I started out with on Wednesday:

And this is what I adjusted that curve to:

I then worked on the overarching top loop, until I came up with this:

I then worked on the spaces between tubing and boxes and I have to say that I found the lines of the box extremely difficult as well; not necessarily the angles or the alignments, but the proportions? Yes, they were a struggle. Unfortunately the lines I made were extremely light, but you can see vaguely how I started the box on the left:

And then the one on the right:

At that point, class was over, and I purposely waited until Sunday to return to it; I could feel myself getting increasingly frustrated with it and didn’t think I was really going to get anywhere if I approached it sooner. The first thing I did today was finagle more with the boxes; to be honest, I’m still not entirely convinced by them. I also, of course, spent a significant amount of time on shading. Hindsight being what it is, I do now wish that I had the tubes even larger; there was one part in particular that clearly required three different shades of light and I’m not quite sure I was able to capture them. I do know that the light was not as resplendent today as it has been other days, simply due to clouds, but that’s obviously my fault. In any event, this is the final product:

I’m happy with bits and pieces of it; parts of the shading I think are okay (although you cannot actually see any of those parts in this picture; I promise some parts of the tube are lighter than others) and I’m fairly content with how all the middle shapes are in proportion and alignment to each other, but I really do wish I’d made it larger and I could’ve found a way to make the proportions of the box, for lack of a superior word, better. That said, my biggest goal when I started this class was not to complete any project thinking ‘well, I could’ve done better, but I just didn’t’ and I definitely don’t think that.

Shapes, shapes, and more shapes

February 16, 2011

Or, rather, the same shapes over and over again! On Monday, we progressed our drawings of the space between objects. We also started to add reflect the nuances of light in our drawings (although, admittedly, I didn’t get that far). What I started off with on Monday was cramped, tiny, and, as Nell pointed out, too small for me to be able to be able to properly shade. So, I enlarged it and then it looked like this:

What you can very vaguely also see in this picture is the line Nell drew to illustrate how my shapes were not properly aligned, so obviously my next order of business was to fix that. I’ll be honest and say that I found doing so incredibly difficult; I just could not the bottom line on the shape to the left quite right and I’m still not completely convinced by it. Nonetheless, once the shapes had been ‘reorganized,’ if you will, it did look infinitely better (for reasons known only to myself at the time, I focused my picture on the redone shape on the right, but you can still see a bit of the one on the left, as well as a bit of the line that gave me so much trouble):

In the above picture, you can also see the next part that gave me trouble; both of the ‘bottom’ shapes (that is to say, the shapes beneath the sole horizontal line) are slightly off. Nell pointed out that the right one is somewhat overly squat and perhaps too short and while I can see that, I’m having an extremely difficult time actually measuring it and figuring out exactly how off I am. I’m not entirely sure what my problem is; when I remeasured on Monday and had trouble I thought perhaps I had just been staring at the same shape for too long, but when I tried again today I got similar results. But, I’ll be able to go in with still-fresher eyes tomorrow and will hopefully be able to fix it!

Sketchin’, sketchin’, sketchin’

February 14, 2011

On Wednesday we were shown a still-life in the center of the room. This is not the best picture, but it gives a fairly good idea of what it looked like (the left side, then the right side because I did not take a picture of the entire thing. I am real smart sometimes):


I actually think it’s pretty awesome; I absolutely love how the tubing coils. Having seen the structure, we sketched it, with the instruction that we were to depict the space between objects rather than the objects themselves; not the entirety, but select pieces, on papers in various sizes. A lot of people managed to create four sketches, but I only got to two, I think mostly because I spent a lot of time worrying whether I was doing it ‘right’. In hindsight, what did that really matter? I think (at least for the purposes of this exercise) it might’ve been more useful for me to draw multiple places in the structure rather than spend so much time fussing over two, but at least now I know! Here is my first, in all its awkward glory:

Due to the light in my pictures of the still life, you can’t quite see which part I was trying to draw; however, I think it’s safe to say that it did not look particularly like that. You can see how smudgy it is where I tried to correct it.

Having completed our sketches, we put them all up on the same board we put our chair drawings on. I really was completely amazed at what everyone else had done; I just think it’s so awesome that we can all approach a similar subject with the same directions and yet come up with such radically different pieces.

What really surprised me was how geometric a lot of other people’s work was, like for example this sketch:

From my perspective, it was much easier to draw the curved lines of the piece; I didn’t have the best view on, for example, the wooden frame on the right side of it, but I had a really good view of the coils of tubing; so, my drawing came out in mostly curves and soft lines while a lot of others came out in sharp, hard angles. It was also really cool to see how people used different media; you can tell from my sketch above that I used pencil and so my lines are clear, but not all that dark. In contrast, this is someone who did it in Sharpie:

And I LOVE it! It just looks so bold and purposeful.

We also had a bit of a discussion over how it felt to use the different sizes of paper; I’m not sure if it’s apparent from the photo, but I used the smallest size and someone said something that simultaneously surprised me and resonated with me; that using the small paper felt better because it felt more distinct. I really liked that choice of words because that was exactly how it felt for me. I feel like with a large piece of paper it’s easy to make tiny, insignificant marks that get lost in a sea of white; with a small piece of paper you don’t have the same protection; it’s impossible to make a mark that won’t get noticed. Interesting food for thought!

Blind contour drawing

February 9, 2011

In Monday’s class, we experimented with blind contour drawing; in other words, drawing solely by looking at the subject, never looking at the page, and never lifting the implement from the paper. First we drew our hands, contorted, with a thick-tipped Sharpie:

The drawings bear hilariously little resemblance to reality, as you can see. I very much enjoyed working the Sharpie; it doesn’t really allow you to be remotely shy; you don’t just mark the paper, you mark the paper. I also have to say that once I’d done the first contour drawing and seen everyone else’s, I immediately relaxed–when no one produces something terribly recognizable, it removes the pressure to create something perfect or even good, as it forces you all to be on the same level. As you can tell, we drew our hands several times and it was interesting how each time I drew my hand, I saw another way in which the lines of it connected to each other.

Next, we drew the face of the person sitting opposite us, this time with a thin-tipped Sharpie:

Much as I didn’t mind using the thicker pen, I think I much preferred the thinner; it just felt much more natural and a little more delicate–but since it’s still a Sharpie, it still definitely marks the page. I was also surprised by how difficult it was to keep a straight face while drawing and being drawn; something about staring right at someone for extended periods of time creates hilarity.

Then, we drew the same person’s face but with our non-dominant hand:

Good for a laugh, if for nothing else! You can really tell how uncomfortable I am using my left hand in this picture; my entire upper arm felt uncomfortable since I never use the muscles there in the way I was using them. The end result is significantly lighter than the previous work (mostly because, as I noted, I really unaccustomed to using those muscles that way).

Finally, we experienced with two different implements, two kinds of colored pencil:

I’m not sure I appreciated the color pencil as much; as you can see in the bottom one, it smudged, and as you can’t see, one of them was so light that despite my applying the typical amount of pressure it didn’t even show up on the page.

We did the same exercise outside of class as well. When I went to the other end of the room where we have class, I saw this sculpture:

(I apologize for the distance; it was in the middle of a circle of tables). So, I decided to do my contour drawings on pieces of the sculpture. I looked around the room to see what media I could use and found a box of chalk, so used that first, drawing the shirt with my dominant hand:

I’m a little torn on the chalk; on the one hand, I absolutely love how it looks, but it’s extremely difficult to maneuver and the lines are a little overly thick.

Then I attempted to draw the blocks in the corner of the structure (this is not the best picture, again due to distance, but hopefully you can roughly see what they look like):

So, I drew those with charcoal, with my dominant hand:

I actually very much enjoyed using the charcoal; a little smudgy, yes, a little squeaky, yes, but I really like the look of it.

I moved on to using pencil again and drew my hand:

(If you ever see someone with a hand like this, run away. As fast as you can.)

I actually enjoyed working with the pencil far more the second time around; I’m not sure if it was just increased familiarity with it or just the different circumstances, but I really liked both the feel and the effect.

Next up was drawing the blocks again, with crayon, with my dominant hand:

Much like drawing my hand and my partner’s face earlier, when I drew the blocks a second time I had a renewed appreciation for which lines coincided with which and how they all interconnected. I absolutely adored working with crayon; for one thing, it reminded me of kindergarten (and who didn’t like kindergarten?); for another, I simply found it really easy to maneuver and I like the thickness of the lines it creates.

Then, it was onto using my non-dominant hand with which I used crayon to draw both blocks and shirt, respectively:

It’s fairly evident that I have a much harder time pressing down with my left hand; honestly, drawing with my left hand feels a bit like having an albatross at the end of my arm; I can sense that something’s there, but I can’t manipulate it very well and I can just feel that it’s not doing quite what I want (albatrosses never do what I want either). Very frustrating!

Nonetheless, I feel like this was a really enlightening exercise. There’s so much you can’t see in an object (or a face!) at first, second, or even third glance, but being forced to look at the same lines over and over really makes it impossible not to see how they relate to each other. Quite apart from that, I found the drawings just plain fun (when they weren’t mildly exasperating).

Chair critique and final reflection

February 7, 2011

So, on Wednesday, having completed our charcoal chairs (alliteration is fun!), we posted them all on on a large wall, sat before them, and critiqued them. It’s so fascinating to see your work in the context of what everyone else has done; for one thing, I’d no idea mine was so much smaller than everyone else’s. It is also extremely reassuring to realize that everyone else has made mistakes, and big ones at that; I saw legs erased and moved over several inches in the final version and angle drastically reduced or expanded.

As someone else in class pointed out, it’s also so interesting to see how, despite the fact that we’re all using the same medium and drawing the same chair, everyone’s individual style is immediately apparent. Some (most, I believe) drew in large, bold strokes across the page, but others worked with incredibly delicacy and finesse.

Equally fascinating is our different interpretations of drawing an isolated object without background. I, and a few others, drew the chair simply floating in space, but many others drew the chair firmly anchored into the ground–an approach that honestly had not occurred to me. One student drew the chair as a white space in a background of grey; although she later explained that this was not entirely on purpose, it was still a striking effect.

Considering this is our first project, it is hardly surprising how much I feel I’ve learned. A large portion of what I’ve learned could be classified as mechanical; not having taken an art class since middle school, virtually everything introduced with and by the string is completely new to me. I’ve learned a little bit about what I tend to have difficulties with; I know that drawing what I know versus what I see will continue to be a struggle for me and I suspect that translating angles from what I have measured them to be to the page will also continue to be difficult. I’ve learned that I go to school with some incredibly talented people and that it is a privilege to see their work. Most importantly, I think I’ve learned that I can actually do this! I can safely say that I am now regarding the rest of the semester with anticipation rather than petrifying fear and that is what I call progress!

Mission: Complete chair!

February 2, 2011

So today, in the time allotted, I completed my chair to the best of my ability. At the end of the last class, we did a bit of peer critique and I was told four things, all of which were true:

1) I had left out a leg (in my defense, I had been altering the proportions of the bottom half of the chair, had erased both right legs and had not yet redone the back one)

2) The proportions in the seat were off

3) The width of my lines is inconsistent, which makes the proportions look off (well, I dare say, even more off than they actually are!)

4) I had made the seat overly large; as our professor pointed out, the chair is high enough that none of us can see all that much of the seat, but my instinct is to draw a flat plane because, well, it’s a chair! It should have a seat! But not, obviously, if the seat is barely visible.

As I said, all very true! This is what I left class with on Monday:

My first order of business today was to make the seat shallower. I did not succeed in making it as shallow as was correct, but it is definitely closer to accurate. Observe!

You can also tell from that picture that I have a tendency to exaggerate my angles; the seat is sloped, but not quite so severely. I will be completely honest and say that I’m not entirely sure why I’m having such a mental block with that. It’s a little frustrating, but definitely something I know to be aware of. You can also tell from the above picture that I had many problems with the angles on the right side of the chair (well, and on the left too, but let’s just take these problems one at a time). However, I used my handy string-as-plumb-line and realized that the seat was significantly less wide than it needed to be, which I assumed was affecting how well I could translate the angles from perception to page. So, I widened the seat:

As you can see, the right front leg is a trifle too wide, but the angle between the right front leg and right back leg is improved. This is the final (certainly not perfect, but final) product:

And I can honestly say that I have cranked out final papers with less effort. I can also say that I think this is the best I can do at this point, and for that, I am proud of it.