Saturday, November 23, 2013

An Article of Clothing


Since 2012 I've been taking spring, summer and fall semester art classes at Saddleback College. The quality of both the instructors and the instruction is top notch and I've been inspired to pursue an art degree at the college.

Long ago, I took "Drawing 101". I re-took it this past summer for a pass/no-pass grade. It was a twice a week, 8 week long studio with Veronica Obermeyer. (Click on the link to read Ms. Obermeyer's impressive CV.) For the majority of my classmates, it was their first college-level drawing class. For me, it was an opportunity to refresh and refine and explore.

A July homework assignment was to draw an article of clothing and an accessory such as a jacket on a hanger. I went home and pulled from the closet a dress shirt, a tie, a belt and a rarely used suit. All the little still-life tidbits I'd picked up from classes, artist magazines and the web broke through the cobwebs and coalesced into a manageable vision. I cleared off my studio (a re-purposed bedroom) drafting table and placed a folding chair on top. On the chair, I arranged the clothes as if someone was inhabiting them.

After crinkling up some sheets of newsprint from a sketch pad, I stuffed it here and there in the suit and shirt. I stuffed newsprint into kitchen trash bags and taped the bags into sausage shapes to support the pant legs. Using a step ladder, I propped the coat above the chair back.

I pointed my photoflood up and at the right pant leg knee and taped it to it's stand. I taped the carpet at each of the tripod legs just in case it got bumped out of position, which happened on a daily basis. I lost count of the number of times I stubbed my toes on that tripod. Anticipating falling charcoal dust I laid out a drop cloth over the rug and under the chair mat and placed my easel on it. I was to live with that setup for the next four months while dust accumulated in inaccessible parts of the room and atop the suit, tie and shirt. I still have dust to find and carpet to wash.

I closed the window shutters and door to my studio to limit any ambient light and maximize light and shadow contrast on the still life, put my  drawing board and pad on the easel, pulled out my charcoal and began to draw. For the due date, I blocked in the overall composition and finished one pant leg. It took me another 4 months, until early November, detailing the entire drawing to my satisfaction. The pant leg was well received. Ms. Obermeyer made mention of the hierarchy of values. She noted the pant leg's crease and my use of "simultaneous contrast." I really like the phrase "simultaneous contrast;" it sounds so artistically arcane.

Pictured to the right is the drawing as pinned up for the July critique. The finished drawing will soon be posted.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My First Significant "First Place"

My academic art studies have been taking a great deal of effort, but I've made some time to put together a blog update.

In June I was awarded First Place in the Drawing and Pastels division of the Anaheim Art Association's 50th Annual
Open Juried Art Competition. The First Place ribbon was presented to my "Serenity" charcoal accompanied by a cash award.


If memory serves me there were over 160 entries. Winning the First Place ribbon was significant; receiving a cash award was just yummy.

In August "Serenity" was awarded an Honorable Mention at the Orange Art Association's 17th Annual Orange Open Juried Fine Art Show. The competition was a bit steeper.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Chicago Botanic Garden

"Carl Linnaeus"
Digital Photo
(c) 2013
 
We had an opportunity to return to Chicago for a visit in May. I took this picture of the statue of one of my heroes, Carl Linnaeus, in one of my favorite places, the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

"Serenity"

"Serenity"
16"x22"
Charcoal on Paper
 
Drawing an individual in profile was the third homework portrait assignment of my fall semester Life Drawing class.
Over a two day period, my model posed with stoic serenity.

In February the portrait won a second place ribbon from the Orange Art Association.




Monday, February 4, 2013

"Astigmatic"

"Astigmatic"
16"x22", Charcoal on Paper
© 2013
 
The second required Life Drawing portrait was to be a 3/4 view. Our instructor reminded us that we were to have some kind of "architecture" in the background by which to gage our proportions. On the blank wall behind me, using 1" wide blue tape, I taped several horizontal lines 6" apart.
 
I wanted to see what I would look like without wearing my glasses. Drawing oneself, for the first time ever, in a 3/4 view was challenging enough. Deciding that my image was not going to be wearing glasses was just plain hard.
 
I got as close to the mirror as possible. I proceeded to remove my glasses, take a quick look at my 3/4 view profile, put my glasses back on, twist around farther to my right, draw a little and then repeat the process several times. Somewhere in the process, in judging proportions against the horizontally taped lines, I elongated my features. I'm blaming that on my eyeglass-less astigmatic vision.
 

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Focused"

"Focused"
16"x22", Charcoal on Paper
© 2013

Following the Midterm submittals in my Fall Semester Life Drawing class, we were required to draw a couple of self-portraits. If it had not been a mandated homework assignment, I might never have tried drawing a self-portrait and would have missed a very revealing experience.

Our instructor suggested we tape on the mirror an outline of the drawing paper we were going to use. In my case, this was a mirrored sliding closet door. I diligently taped an 18"x24" rectangle on the mirror's surface. With an adjustable height floodlight to my left, the easel and drawing pad to my right, and a drop cloth beneath the easel and me, I "stepped" into the rectangle. I marked where I was to stand, the location of the easel's tripod legs and the floodlight's tripod legs with blue tape. Then I focused on my reflected image. I explored every detail of that image and tried to capture it using only a a small piece of a chamois, a paper stump, a kneaded eraser and a stick of burnt wood.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"Coiled"

"Coiled"
16"x22"
Charcoal on Paper

Our Fall Semester Life Drawing instructor, Cynthia Grilli, chose a variety of models whose body types and poses would progressively challenge us as our drawing confidence and ability grew. During the unrobed 3 hours of short 2 to 5 minute poses, the quite flexible model pictured above twisted into one coiled form after another.

The two hour clothed afternoon session lead to the portrait shown.