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.


traci adams said...

Uncle Bernie, your work remains amazing and inspirational. Great idea with the suit. I love the Serenity drawing, beautiful model you have there! miss you guys lots. still painting away. if you have access to facebook, andreas puts up my recent work. check it out at i have been doing some really fun work lately. great to look on your blog for inspiration! xoxo

Dabblerteer said...

Hey Traci,
Your latest work is wonderful! It makes for instant smiles!
Hope to see you and the fam, soon.
Uncle B.