Monday, May 16, 2011

Keeping it Simple

Here is a very simple drawing;  My usual combination, Prismacolor on Canson Pastel paper.  A line of varying weight describes edges and to some small extent the very darkest shadows.  White pencil highlights show not only where the light falls but also defines mid-range shadows, - the flat blue areas of the body.   Between the two we have a spare representation of 3-dimensional form viewed from ... where?   Where would you place the artist's eye-level?

It is fun sometimes to analyze, - trying to put yourself in the artist's place and ask if you understand why the work looks as it does, or ask how you would handle the same situation.  I don't know if the particular questions are important but I do know that looking at the work of others is very important.  Really looking can reveal a lot!

Early in my training a  2-d design teacher sent our class to the MFA with instructions to find an interesting work and make a faithful copy. I wandered the galleries with my little folding stool and finally settled on a one-foot square scrap of old French tapestry. It was displayed low down in a wall case, low enough that I could sit comfortably with the material at eye level.  I concentrated on the "simple" border design, - leaves, tendrils and small fruit.  Piece of cake!

Even with my intention to get through the assignment easily, I did my best to draw carefully and make a good reproduction.  It took hours of drawing and re-drawing!  As I worked I became more and more involved and began   following the artist's hand as he fitted the various elements together. It was amazing! By the time I was finished,  I was intimately aware of the mind behind the anonymous design and was literally in love with that scrap of beautiful cloth.  For many years following I never entered the Boston Museum of Fine Arts without spending time with that gorgeous little remnant.

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