Thursday, November 20, 2008

If You Can't Win Them - Draw Their Limbs

Bill of the OnPainting blog has left a comment on my previous post, implying that I am yet to learn how to do some real whining.

That still hurts.


And yet, always open to constructive criticism, I took it to my attention, and so today in class I decided to change my tactics.

Today was the last class with a model in the fall series. Our model introduced herself to us as Jan, said she was a replacement to the model we were supposed to have, and cheerfully proceeded to take over the class. I've never seen such a thing.

She then asked us what we want her to do. Before I managed to suggest that she fulfills my desire and go for short poses galore, Val jumped ahead. Now, y'all need to know something: to the untrained eye, Val seems like a very sweet polite British lady who would agree with whatever you say over a nice cuppa tea. However... once you spend more than twenty seconds with her, you realize that she is anything but. The glint in her eye gives it away, and any doubts you may have left are scattered the second you get acquainted with her ultra-sharp tongue. Show me the best sushi knife forged by skilled Japanese craftsmen - and it will turn dull in comparison. (needless to say, that's why I love her so).

Anyway - with her sweetest voice and most convincing innocent smile, Val said: "Oh, two long poses, please".

The model smiled back graciously at the nice British lady (of course, she doesn't know Val yet), and I knew the verdict has been made. with a big sigh, I informed Val that she's gonna star on my next blogpost, and braced myself towards yet another gazing session.

But wait!

That model was different. She had something about her: maybe the way she held herself, accompanied that inner self confidence and her vibrant personality that shone through; plus, she had wonderful hands.

"Y'know", I told myself "a model has other body parts other than just the head".

Walking around the room, I picked a spot that spoke to me the most, pose-wise. I relocated all my stuff there, and concentrated on her hand, which was nonchalantly resting on her knee.

Three 20-minute sessions plus a very helpful tip from the teacher yielded a hand that The JohnnyB, when seeing it, burst into a healthy laughter and delved in pointing out everything that's wrong about it. I went for the good ole' trick of handing him a brush, and he went back to reading his book.

OK, it's not perfect. And yes, perhaps years from now, when hands will become easy for me to do, I'll look at this one with a pitiful smile, but for my third attempt (or so) at hands, I like it.

After this pose, the model suggested a quick "loosening up" session, and burst into a series of ten 1-minute poses, forcing everyone in the room to get out of their comfort zone and have the ultimate artistic work-out.

Once we were all fit and adrenalized, she went back to the gazing state of being: pose number two.

Again, remembering Bill's scorching comment, I figured I'd better make the most out of it rather than whine.

The model was now seated on a chair, her legs crossed with her elbow on her thigh. With the palette and water bucket in one hand, watercolor pad balanced on my other palm and brushes between my teeth, I relocated - yet again - to the other side of the room, to a spot that offered some fun shapes and fabric folds and creases and tings.

I went for it.

(to those of you who wonder: yes, she was wearing Capri pants in the midst of November. Global warming has cometh to the Bay Area in the past week, I'm afraid).

And I think that for the very first time, I went through a figure class without doing the face!

Who would have thunk?


Myrna said...

Nice work and the color is so fresh! Perhaps you will join me on Sunday for a full day of short poses at the drawing marathon in Palo alto! I'll let you whine all you want.

Nava said...

Myrna, Thanks! For the first time, I used good quality watercolor paper in this class (I know.. I never learn!) and it makes a huge difference in color mingling and freshness.

Your offer is very tempting - I might meet you there for a whining session.

Anonymous said...

Not perfect? Those fingers look like you were viewing them through a funny glass. said...

That little piece of a butt on a chair is not bad; nice going.

You could also do studies of an ear, nose, eye, elbow, foot,.... Try to get to the extreme sides of the model or even completly behind for different views.

On a different note: there are not many shopping days left before Christmas. Because of the bad economy I will not be disappointed if you cut back on the amount you spent on me last Christmas. Still, I WILL be looking for something under my tree - don't get me started whinning on Christmas morn please. said...

Anonymous - what a harsh way of putting it. Let us see some of your work please. Although, one must admit, you do have a point.

Anonymous said...

@ onpainting: My work? There is no such thing :-) Artistic or otherwise. Makes it easier to criticize.

BTW, I bet these words are not very different than something The JohnnyB would use. Right, Nava?

Nava said...

Bill, That was the last class - but I'll definitely try some extremities next semester.

As for the comments of
Anonymous, my mom always taught me to not talk to strangers or those who hide behind masks. And she was always right.

Oh, and again,
Bill, that was very touching, you becoming a knight in shining armor for a second and then abandoning it in a heartbeat. Very manly.

Belinda said...

Enjoyed your 2 paintings from class, I think it's a pretty good hand and the composition of the second one is very unusual. I think this class has been good for you.

Nava said...

Belinda, Thanks. I think you're quite right.

Anonymous said...

I bestow points on you and put a star on your permanent record for even attempting a hand.
You could have avoided it altogether but you chose to be brave, paint it and post it.
One can go blind looking at all those joints, looking at the paper, back up at the hand, back to the paper.
Easier to watch Chinese ping pong players.

I really like the truncated study of the seated haunch in capri pants.

It's relevant to make a composition out of body parts and break down into small studies.

Nava said...

Bonnie, Going for the hand was indeed my hara-kiri for the day. Furthermore, painting a hand from a live model who doesn't always assume the same position after the break was ever more nerve-wracking - hence my pride and joy of the result!

So: thank you for the points and star - they shall be cherished.

Rhonda said...

Beautiful Nava.

Anonymous said...

Nava- I've tagged you on my blog.
Go take a look and see.....