Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reclining Kristy

Contour drawing has always been a favorite way to draw. I love the discipline of the carefully observed line and the restrictions imposed by the no erasures rule. In a way it's very easy since it doesn't matter where you start. You observe one particular line in the subject, probably an edge, and draw that single line as carefully as possible. Then finding a line that starts attached to or very near the first, and keeping a careful eye on the comparisons between the two, eg: line direction, length, proportion, you try to reproduce that line. You handle each successive line in the same way so that the drawing grows naturally, organically. If you skip around, a line here then another in some other area, you risk having parts unmatched, out of place in comparison to each other.  Also, notice that some lines start as outlines but turn to run across the figure. These cross-contour lines can be important in giving the illusion of three dimensional form.

If you have never drawn this way in the past, you should approach it at first by paying such close attention to each line that you couldn't possibly look around to make those comparisons. You'll have mistakes at first but it is good practice!  For high quality observation, you should never take your eyes from the line while actually drawing it. Think about that old childhood board game "Operation" where you had to remove the "bone" without setting off a jarring alarm, - that kind of absolute concentration is essential to seeing the unique quality and character of each line.

Once you have the hang of it, then in everyday practice you do have to be aware of the other components of the piece as you go along but the same principles apply - careful observation as you draw. This blue drawing is also a cautionary tale, an example of what not to do!  Here I rushed the drawing of the feet and lost my way. By not paying strict attention to both line and proportion I produced that marvelously misshapen left foot. I then compounded the problem by over-doing the white on that foot, calling more attention to the mistake!  OK, I'm learning!

Now to another subject, - notice the difference in strength between the two drawings. Originally they were quite similar in character. Using PhotoShop I enhanced the first of these drawings to make it show up better and make a better looking, more interesting blog page over-all, a bit of artistic license by the page designer! Increasing the contrast strengthened the lines but in the process we lost some of the delicate character in the original drawing. The second of the two may be a bit weak visually, but it adheres more closely to the original. I think it important that you knowhow visual art can be easily changed digitally, how things are easily manipulated online - both positively and negatively. Just be aware.

"Computers are to design as microwaves are to cooking."   Milton Glaser

"Art is the most beautiful of all lies."   Claude Debussy

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