Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back To Basics

it's been a long time since I last took a drawing class. Way too long.

On Thursday, I started a new one - figure drawing. Clothed figure this time. Yeah, I know - a lot of you non-artists think w'all stare at naked bodies under the excuse of drawing them. Well, not quite. At some point, you kinda get tired of it. And clothed models become much more exciting. Clothed figures have more movement to capture (well, yes, some nude models also manage to produce movement, but let's not get into this...).

So - that was the first class, with the first model. A pretty woman in her 30s, which immediately made her an uninspiring subject. Plus, she wore a simple dress with an annoying greenish patterned-fabric, that was visible enough to obscure the light and shadow, but not interesting enough for shapes. She then took an ordinary pose, just standing there, and to top it all, I had the luck to face her back. With too many students in the class to relocate to a different spot, I was stuck.


When the subject is conventional, you can either give up - or turn to your creativity glands.

I took the charcoal stick (which I have not used forever!), and started to render the figure, recalling my long-forgotten measuring skills. Still boring. I blocked in some dark areas, then used my kneaded eraser to add highlights (one of my favorite things about charcoal), and started to have fun. Luckily, I brought with me the whole bag of charcoal goodies, from the fair shy vine charcoal, to the darker willow one, to the compressed charcoal, and when she took the final 20 minutes of the pose, I went for the big daddy of charcoal, a thick stick of the darkest charcoal that makes wonderful dramatic darks. Not for the faint hearted, as there is no way to erase it, mind you.

When I was done, the teacher picked up my drawing, and raved to the class, pointing all the good things about it, while I busied myself looking for a place to hide, as you don't quite what to do with yourself at such occasions.

A short break - and it was time for the second pose.

The model slumped herself on a chair, and - lo and behold, had her face towards me!!

Inspired by what MembieM did in the previous pose, I decided to go for a close up, and use watercolors this time. I have never ever painted a portrait in a drawing session (well, once, and on pastel, but that was 4 years ago, and it was disastrous). Aha - much trickier, especially when all I had to work with were my cheap pad of paper and my low-grade watercolors that I keep taking to classes and workshops in order to get rid of them, but instead I only get lousy results, as I resent working with them. Well, a lesson for next time.

Needless to say, this time the teacher did not glorify my masterpiece, except for congratulating me on my free and loose style (yes, he is a sweet encouraging soul). Instead, he chose to embarrass MembieM, who came up with an incredible charcoal drawing.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the exercise, even if not the result. Poor gal, I may need to go back into the painting and save her from the fate of an unshaved woman with a shiner... I do like the way her dress turned out, though.



Anonymous said...

נו... אז איזה כיף לצייר בפחם? מאד אהבתי התוסאה. יפה לך. שאפו!!! תיסלמי

Anonymous said...

Lovely solid form - now give me some lessons!!!

I agreed with every word he said about your rhythm and 'music'


RHCarpenter said...

Love the charcoal one - you were so brave. The darks and the whites on the skirt with a touch on the shoulder really make this one! And you made something of nothing from the pose, too :) I like the watercolor, too, and especially the dress - I think the face is not very feminine but, hey, maybe the woman was not very feminine :) Good work - it definitely stretches you, doesn't it?

Myrna said...

Beautiful charcoal with a subtle but emotional composition. Don't underestimate the power of subtle. Congratulations on a great image.

Sandy Maudlin said...

Love the charcoal. Well done. How about pitching the bad paper. That's most of your battle with the watercolor. If yu got a bad cup of coffee, you'd pour it downthe sink. Ditch that paper. Keep painting. I love your blog.

Nava said...

THANK YOU x 4 (plus one תודרבה!).

Yes, I am quite happy with the charcoal one. I used to be so scared of charcoal when I did nude drawing (I got very tight and nervous using it, not quite sure why), but doing this one reminded me what a great expressive medium it really is.

Val, OK, next class I'll share some of the things I've learned.

Rhonda, alas, the woman was very feminine - and yes, I made her face quite masculine. Must be the 5 o'clock shadow I bestowed upon her...

Myrna, I like subtle! Thank you!!

Sandy, that's a very teacherly advice ;-) Yes, you are right - need to toss the bad paper and bad paints, but my cheap alterego profusely rebels against it...

nathaliewithanh said...

Hi Nava,

I read your comment on Bonnie Luria's blog and I was wondering if you might recognize someone familiar on the following post:

I hope that the familiar face brings up nice memories!