Saturday, February 24, 2007

Quick Draw

One thing we did in Wednesday's class was "contour drawing." We drew the model's contour/shape in a continuous line without looking at our paper. It's a bit trippy to see the results---very modern. I like it and might try to incorporate this technique in a future painting. Wednesday's model was Frederick. He definitely spends time in the gym.

Friday's model was Kristina. I think she knew full well that from my vantage point, the pose was going to be difficult to capture. She's leaning back on her elbows in a reclining position with her legs crossed. My easel was at the tip of her toes. Kristina looked straight at me right after she set the timer, and laughed.

The last pose of every class so far has been twenty minutes. Right now, while still learning the quick draw (gesture), I'm also experimenting with the variety of color in the pastel box. With oil paints, one can mix endlessly to get an exact shade for a precise purpose. With pastels, the color palette is limited, but not necessarily restrictive. It has hampered me a little bit to use pastels, but also the restraints of matching shades exactly must be abandoned. Therefore, the juxtaposition of colors becomes a delightful exercise.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Finding My Glasses....Again

As usual, we forgot the camera on Saturday night for the gallery opening, so no pics. We also forgot business cards...oh, well. Other than those things, the opening reception went wonderfully well. All the artists had friends and supporters attend on their behalf. It was great to see such a cross section of art and a variety of friends. The one constant was that no one was there who didn't want to be there, so everyone had a great time.

After the last show in November at Baquero Gallery, I went out and got a new pair of glasses. They are soooo much more comfortable than my old pair. Even so, at times I take them off and leave them places, especially if people are taking my picture. Someone was taking photos Saturday night. Because there is always a glare when I leave my glasses on for a photo, and because I'm vain, I took them off. Eventually, as Reese was walking by, I slipped them into his top jacket pocket....only Reese didn't know that I had put them there.

As we were getting ready to leave at the very end of the evening, I patted Reese's blazer pocket to make sure my glasses were there. They weren't. So I asked him if he put them somewhere else (?) thinking,

"No biggie."

But they were no where to be found, and Reese was adamant that I had NOT put them in his pocket. We couldn't find them anywhere. It was too late and we were much too tired so we went home.

After church on Sunday, and after The Chinese New Years celebration, we headed back to the gallery to look for my glasses. There they were, twisted, lens popped out, and smushed in the dirt outside the back door of the gallery. Reese had helped Mandy take out the garbage the night before and they must have slipped out of his pocket. And since he wasn't aware that he needed to keep a watchful eye out for them being that he was totally unaware that they were in his jacket pocket, they had disappeared into the blackness of the night.

One of today's chores is to get them re-adjusted.

All's well that ends well.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chinese Lasagna

The most curious thing happened today.... We went to a neighbor's house for a Chinese New Year celebration. That's not the whole story.

Walking in, Wayne (our neighbor) put the dot on our forehead, you know, the third eye. Groovy.

Then we visited with a Chinese guy named Reno something....a Chinese Italian, that is. His son Nikko had two different colored eyes, one brown, and one green. I think Reno must have been the one who brought the Chinese lasagna. Have you ever had Chinese lasagna? I think not.

Then I met Jack, Wayne's older-by-18-years brother. Jack is an old salt who has lived on a boat for the last 20 years in the Florida Keys. He is here on an extended stay with his brother while undergoing treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Even after his latest, almost final chemotherapy treatment, he still has a full head of long grey hair and a full grizzly beard.

Making my way back indoors after eating my Chinese lasagna, I ran into a woman I instantly recognized. I said,

"I know you! You're Martha!"

Martha was our model in Friday's life drawing lab. Martha was our model in Friday's life drawing lab!!!! (just in case you didn't catch that the first time)

I was delighted, stunned, flabbergasted, thrilled...all of the above. I went back outside and told Reese that MarthawasatthesamepartyandIdrewheronFridayandshewasanudemodelinourlastclass. This drew an immediate, albeit small crowd as I started explaining the beauty of Martha; her regal poses, how much I enjoyed drawing her, the fun of drawing that line from where a woman's arm connects to her body and the curve as it flows around her breast, then gliding along the curve of her waist and hips....the small crowd was spellbound, perhaps as stunned as I had been, that I was talking in flowing language (with hand gestures) about the nude curves of another woman's body.

The first question Jack asked when people stopped blinking at me and my nude model illustration was,

"Well, do you think she'll give us a demonstration right here in the back yard?"

When Martha posed for us, she was awesome. Her voice is husky, and she has an easy smoker's laugh. She was quick to put us at ease by making small random comments. But when it came time, she was all business. She struck a pose and that was it. All of the sudden there were this beauty....absolutely beautiful pose. She looked like a Roman statue, only she was flesh and blood. My sketches don't do justice to her form. Maybe by the next time she poses I'll do a better job of capturing the essence of all things Martha.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Funny Valentine

Since yesterday was Anna's Valentine birthday, and there was a place available, I sat next to her in our life drawing class. During one of the model breaks, the teacher, Patrick Palmer came over and asked,

"So, how are you two related?"


Anna has been an artist for almost all of her life. When she was almost three she drew a picture for me that I still have on the refrigerator. It has faded a bit and the edges are browned, but for a three year old, it's an incredible piece of art. Her interest in art continued as she grew. Anna's determination, sense of perspective, and patience with details has yielded some delightful artwork over the years. She still possesses all of those qualities and she still produces wonderful art.

In class, at some point, Patrick has us walk around and look at what our fellow classmates are drawing. Even though we are all sketching the same model, we all bring a unique take on the pose; plus we are standing in a circle around the model, so we all have a unique view. Often my favorite pose of the whole class is on Anna's easel. Maybe someday she'll let me share some of her sketches on this blog. In the meantime, you can see her house portraits by clicking the Anna Hazel Art link on the right.

It's been a tremendous blessing to be her mother, and an extra treat to be her friend.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Trouble With Harry

Part of what we paid for in the life drawing class was the model fee. And part of what is included in the model fee is the opportunity to practice with the models in one or two labs offered later in the week. In today's lab, Harry was our model. I won't even tell you the first thing I noticed.

In the first class our model was Susan. Even though Susan was a thin woman, she was still nothing but curves and squiggles. Harry, on the other hand, was all lines and angles. It took me a while to intellectualize this. Duh. I had been trying to draw Harry the same way that I had drawn Susan. When I looked at and sketched Susan two days ago, my eyes would sweep over her entire body as I tried to capture the wholeness and beauty of her curves. It was almost a religious experience. But sketching Harry was different. Harry had no curves. It seemed more like an exercise, like doing pages and pages of math homework. It wasn't until the twelfth pose that I realized that this was why it wasn't clicking for me.

The four poses after that were much better because I started thinking about how to draw Harry with lines and angles instead of squiggles and curves. Even math can be beautiful.

Remember that we have 5 to 10, and sometimes 20 minutes to sketch each pose. Also, remember that this is only my second time to do this...the first time being two days ago. Go easy on me.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Butter Up

All the easels were set up when we got to class. Everyone else got there before me, even though I was on time. So, there were only two easels left. You know how sometimes when you are at a fundraising dinner, and the dinner guests around you don't seem to remember which butter plate belongs to them, and you end up not getting one? Well, there were two easels left, but no table to go with one of them, because someone had taken the other person's butter plate, so to speak. Therefore, I got the easel by the door as you walk in, which generally meant that for all the poses, I got Susan's (our model) back. Susan is a very thin woman.

We started out by doing scribble "gestures." Apparently, a gesture is a quick summary drawing reserving territory (on paper) in which the subject will sit. It's not designed to be accurate, per se, but rather give one a general idea how to build a painting or drawing around a "gesture." I'm still not sure that I completely understand it myself...but it has something to do with "positive and negative" space. All of this art terminology is new to me. Back to scribbles....we scribbled the space of the model, then drew an outline of her body based on our scribbles.

The second gesture we did was ball and oval. Some guy back in the day, invented this concept of drawing a human figure based on balls and ovals. The head would be an oval, the neck a ball, the torso an oval, the shoulder a ball, arm an oval, elbow a get the idea. So we sketched the model in balls and ovals, then drew an outline around that.

The third type of gesture we learned today was the value gesture. A value gesture is basically coloring in the shape of the model, and then outlining that. Value gesture drawing was my favorite of the three types of gestures we learned today. I could see the shape more clearly, rather than drawing random lines in space on paper. I could see where to put the lines based on the shape or value of what I had sketched.

In between the fourth or fifth pose, students would walk aound and look at each other's sketches. These were my two favorite gestures of the day.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Small Gesture

It's always a treat to have the house full. As you may or may not know, my studio doubles as Erin's bedroom and the guest room. With Grace staying with us, I moved out of the studio for the week. This is a mixed blessing. For one thing, it has postponed likely frustration with the background of a painting in the works. The painting in question is something that I sketched months ago, started painting last week, and then cleared out of the studio. Just as well. Even looking at it now, I have no idea how to complete this painting.

Another has given me some time to catch up on art reading, though not enough. As a largely heretofore self trained artist, I absolutely rely on art magazines, art how-to books, and art coffee table books. I have my favorites, and these are always good refreshers for looking at technique.

And lastly, I've begun a life drawing class. The first class was just preliminary introductions and supply list week the *nude model* comes to pose. It's called gesture poses. The model holds a pose for 30 minutes or so while we draw. Good grief. I just hope it's not one of my neighbors. Awkward. And I also hope that I don't get the business end of the male model. Ew. I don't want a sketchbook full of that. This will be my gesture if I do get that pose.....

Oh, dear.

Did I mention that I'm taking this class with my 20 year old (on Valentines day) daughter? That part was an accident, honestly. She had signed up for the same class at a different time, and then changed her schedule. I just hope it's not too weird for either one of us.