Friday, September 25, 2015

Contour Line Again - and More!

These two nudes have appeared here in the past (4 years ago) but without the background I call a "grill".
At that time I talked about contour line as a descriptive device that many think of as an "outline". It may be that, but more, its a line describing an edge that often runs across the figure, describing form as well as shape, enriching our understanding of the whole figure.

The background "grills" perform a couple of functions. First, they set the figures in a separate environment of sorts, a defined space that helps us to see shape and form as distinct aspects of the drawings. The grill also calls attention to "negative space". The shape of the area defined by the figure's edges and the edges of the background space or edges of the paper.

If I were interested only in this mind/eye game I would likely dispense with the figure entirely and just work in abstract terms. Luckily (or not) I enjoy representational art, observational drawing and here, the human figure.

Having said all that,  we now have to confront an essential truth. In these works we have shapes and lines, color and texture all integrated and/or juxtaposed on a flat surface, but there is no form, at least none in the sense of actual 3D depth. Our perception of depth here, is an illusion we buy into in order to enjoy the story, idea or figure presented. At the movies we allow ourselves to "believe" that the images are real so that we can be led through the illusion of an experience. We enjoy it!

The artist Rene Magritte said it well in his 1929 "The Treachery of Images" a painting of a pipe with the label, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" - "This is not a pipe". He's saying it's an image, a painting, an idea. (Even the word p-i-p-e is an abstraction) Check it out here -

This brings me to a current problem some artists are encountering. There are anonymous "critics" who pressure the "powers that be" to remove depictions of nudes from the pages of Facebook. Some images have been deleted. The artist/posters are given no chance to defend their work or to confront complainers. The prudes, puritans and religious fanatics, who do not show their faces, do not seem to see the difference between art and reality and do not understand at all the role of the artist. They do not subscribe to the idea, "freedom of expression", the basis of creativity. Check the link below and add your name to those protesting these abusive actions!

Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere might be happy."   H. L. Mencken

"Illusion is the first of all pleasures."   Voltaire

"The space between the dish and the pitcher, that I paint also."   George Braque

Friday, September 18, 2015

Jars of Color!

Here are recent drawings of two old jars I thought would be interesting because of the reflections and transparency. They are relatively quick sketches on grey paper with only three colors - black, white and blue.

Later, looking at the drawings, I thought they needed some small enhancement. Taking a cue from some earlier figure drawings with added backgrounds, I added a simple orange line around the jar - just enough color in contrast to the blue to give it a bit of life. It worked beautifully! You can see my Photoshopped re-creation, background removed, on the left.

There was just enough zing in that single line, so did I stop there? Of course not!  If a "touch" of color is good then more of the same would be better. Right?  That over-large background rectangle was the next step, and as far as I'm concerned, it's much too much. (and a bit high behind the jar in any case!)  Lesson learned - so in drawing the jar with scissors below, I was more judicious and that restraint paid off in a much better color balance.

By now you've probably noticed something else!
I started out thinking that capturing the jar's transparency would be a major factor in the drawing's interest but by inserting the virtual orange without it showing through the glass, that lack of color in the jar works against us. I should have had an actual strip of color there and worked to render it in the original drawing. Oh, well - another lesson!

P.S. I've just been re-evaluating this post (9-21-16) and now find the drawing with the larger orange rectangle the more satisfying in it's color balance! Hmm, what happened there? A year older I guess!

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."   Scott Adams

"Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Beginning (again)

Continuing the creative drawing theme of previous posts, here are two early ink drawings that re-illustrate the concept of "doodling" your way to a viable idea. When I first started creative drawing I often had no particular idea or direction, so like an old kid's TV program artist, I'd make a few random marks on the paper that prodded my hand & head and often grew into something interesting or unexpected. 

This one (left) reminds me a bit of pen-work by Fons Van Woerkom, a political cartoonist who did work for the New York Times back in the 1970's. Along with his dense hatching there was an element of "ugly" in his ideas that made his drawings quite memorable.

This "Chicken Man" sketch that I've shown here in the past (5.26.11) and a couple of large format finished drawings that repeated the image are directly attributable to the doodle above.  It's just a bit more refined and a whole lot more humorous! You cannot see the old-fashioned piano stool the poor guy is trying to launch himself from!

This last piece, tho' just as much a "doodle" as the first, grew by addition/accretion rather than the organic process of the one above.
I was watching TV and responding to the various images and ideas as they flashed by, adding elements and trying to balance the composition as I went along. It was fun! I've had commissions based on this idea where I take people's pertinent facts and/or life experiences and weave them into similar "pedestal" illustrations, almost a design for fanciful sculpture.

"With experimentation comes surprise and discovery."
      Kim Lee Kho

"Spontaneity is being present in the present."   Wei Wu Wei

"The risk of failure is part of the fun,"    Paul Simon

Thursday, September 3, 2015

In the Beginning

I've always liked to draw. One of my earliest memories has me sitting on the linoleum floor in front of my grandmother's huge cast-iron kitchen stove, drawing on a flattened brown paper bag. It may have been the typical child's simple stick figure, the iconic house and lollipop tree with "M" shaped birds above or even some fantastic vision - drawing was my refuge.

Many years later when I acquired my very first Rapidograph Pen, my young son's toys (here from an old sketch-book) were among the things I found at hand to observe and reproduce. I would draw anything that didn't move. I simply loved drawing!

Whether you like to draw fantastic comic heros, design your own clothes, do dog portraits or beautiful landscapes, you will benefit from observational drawing. It will help you understand perspective, give you ways to show form, let you work out technique and simply practice hand/eye coordination. Carry a small sketch book and draw every chance you get. It doesn't matter really what you draw,  just do it!

"Those who will not start, will never finish."  Jack Adams

"Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."  Arthur Ashe

"Know that to begin is often better than to think." Robert Genn