Figure Drawing…

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I started drawing again–it’s been a while; and working with it is still self-gratifying, especially with the challenges learning how to figure draw. Working with shapes helps, if you can finally figure out how to coordinate the linear aspects of them. Even if you’re not an architect. Architecture obviously works in figure drawing, probably just about in any need with drawing. When I first took a painting class, we were asked to draw–and the repeated references to learning how to draw continue with people referencing learning it beforehand. Drawing does help, and so does the reasoning behind understanding why certain imprinted pencils are needed for certain steps. I revisited The Art of Drawing:The Complete Course by Guzman and Martin that I wrote about a while back–and it helps the resurfacing of it for developing style and technique, where you want style to go. Not fearing shapes is a plus, even though I still do. So working more seriously with the first of “in-hope” figure drawings is a shape taking shape. Once the roundness of the shape for figure takes places, figure drawing isn’t that difficult–just the time and patience can be in working and reworking it. Of course, values–the thought of negative space, and applying it–configures into the composition of the figure; but re-working angles, no matter the linear, you can see the figure’s development, that of being human-like, and then you can start seeing where you want it to go. This sounds too simple, as drawing can be a challenge and a fear. It was for me and some times continues to be, but, insofar, I’m happy with just being able to start with the figure. I’ve been working with some still life drawings, drawing with pastels and painting with after-underpainting. I haven’t been that interested in portrait drawings, probably because I don’t do well yet with facial features and the face. But the fear of drawing is more under control; it becomes easier–interestingly enough even after an absence from it. I think that drawing speaks for human behavior, in the sense that reading linear reads minds and human actions. Architecture is the portrait of human anatomy, physiology, and the capacity to voice what is rational and ill-rational. This uncanniness makes for wanting to understand human behavior and why people/characters do what they do, at least for me. So, onward in practicing drawing, utilizing the many ways of expressing either a character’s behavior, actions, and/or presence on canvas, etc. As always, a canvas, for me, is working with text—text as voice and expression.

The Mid-Zone…

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I’m currently in the middle of reading two novels and a short story collection; and I wanted to read these works as well to see excellent portraits of family dynamic storytelling–mainly how different writers work with family settings in their novels. Whether subtle or more direct, I’m finding each of these works incredibly fascinating with more of a look into the art of crafting a novel or short story collection based on family culture. So I’m reading John Irving’s A Widow for One Year–and I’ll tell you when you read an Irving novel, you’re hooked. I am. I like how he threads back-and-forth a character’s identity, whether work or hobby related as a reminder or flashback, to get that effect. I think the repetition shows the impact of what inspires/haunts even characters in their decisions and choices that they make in their lives–for example Ruth’s and her parents destiny. Elizabeth Strout’s Amy and Isabelle is an engaging portrait of a mother and daughter relationship, the twists and turns and discoveries that I’m seeing are intriguing along with how Strout works with setting/environment; and Jesse Shepard’s Jubilee King is a short story collection with very subtle and equally direct meaning of the mundane or every day life with a very raw and intriguing look into California landscapes and people’s relationships that shape it. So far, each work has provided a look at family life in different environments and cultures, and I’m looking forward to seeing where their characters and their lives end up. To be continued…

Some excellent art books…

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I wanted to share some excellent art books–books that I started out with in developing my interest in art and what I continue using today. These books are strategy-honed for side-by-side demonstrations, different approaches, procedures, techniques, lessons, as well as rudimentary and intermediate skill-set coverage; or the books can be used for an advanced painter to refresh memory. For drawing, I really like Art of Drawing published by Sterling Publishing Co. (2003). This book has color and black and white picture demonstrations, brush effects, composition manifestation, point of view, proportion, tonal backgrounds along with landscape and still-life effects. A really great foundational art book to have around.

I also like The Artist’s Handbook by Ray Smith. This book covers just about every medium known with color demonstrations, materials needed, techniques that are easily chronicled and sectioned for anyone to grasp. There are inscriptions and descriptions of “wet-into-wet” effect–the laying and blending of color washes, controlling paint flow, and learning how to set spontaneous conditions. This approach I want to work with more in my watercolor pursuits. A comfortable and intelligent read juxtaposed with the “Appendices” section that is very informative and helpful.

I’m still in search of a really good oil painting book for my collection. Until then, I have a good quality watercolor book called Different Strokes Watercolor by Naomi Tydeman who offers a lot of comparing techniques for seascape, cafĂ© interior, Woodland deer, rocky mountain, flowers, fields, still-life, sunsets, watermill reflections, Mediterranean walls, human figures, and boats. A fully colored publication that addresses and embraces different approaches artists can take with the same subject.