Thanks to all you following this and the Advanced Life Drawing on Facebook started last Autumn. Special thanks again to Erin Hesser for making these happen! I am working on somethings that will come to fruition by Spring and will keep you posted as I am able.
The photos in this post are some excellent examples from the final assignment which was given in all my drawing classes. (FYI-you have all inspired me so much with your responses, I will be offering a composition focused class in Continuing Education starting Summer 2013 when I return to teaching.)
The resulting image shown from original to re-compostion show a great use of the capture of the composition and happen to have great content change to boot! Remember, the format needs to stay the same, the figures need to be reduced to simple geometric forms (cones, cubes, cylinders, spheres and pyramids to start) while paying attention to the implied three dimensional directions from ground up and where the figures look. Play around with variations when you do this and you will improve your composition intuition the next time you invent a picture! If you see your picture please post your name (I forgot who’s who). This is an edited selection, there were many, many excellent ones.
“The Clothes hang on the Pose.” When drawing a figure wearing clothes, its important to express how the fabric/clothes relates to said form. Clothes will hang on the pose, they don’t just stiffly sit on the form. Some good points to remember for clothes are in four fabric fold principles that you can transfer to the pose. First off, fabric tends to form a cone-like structure. Secondly, it pinches and bunches, creating zig-zag movement. Thirdly, fabric tends to create compression folds, these tend to ring the form of the body and are a series of cones, pinch and zig-zags. And fourthly, fabric tends to radiate from form, and this is of utmost importance to pay attention to because it is the direct result of the underlying form, regardless of fabric type. Fabric form also can’t end in a point singular point, fabric will pile in a hierarchy, with folds overlapping one another. So make sure when you are working from memory, say creating a character, you give the figure legs that make wrinkles and folds, not just wrinkles. Now repeat after me, “The clothes hang on the pose…”
“Drawing with the Brush.” Drawing the figure with a brush is a good practice to see the body’s mass as a whole. To start, one can use the paint to fill in a drawn figure, but eventually you can use the paint to fill the form first. You’re trying to make one brushstroke per form (try using a large brush, round or oval), you’re not trying to express light or shade.The brushstrokes should be thick and follow the contours of the form, this is the perfect example of “Passages” (lines that will follow the form surface, lengthwise and width wise). Where ever there is body, there should be paint. The brush strokes are also semi translucent, so we can express hierarchy within the body through layering; as in overlapping/what is in front. The act of filling in the body without the help of a predetermined outline helps you focus on the figure’s surface. The stroke of the brush gives us a sense of form, and after we’ve fully expressed the form in paint, we can go back and refine and carve with exterior pencil lines. Examples of this practice would be found in works of Rodin, Gericault, Delacroix and Goya to name a few.
“Class Project, Re-Compositions.” Our class project will explore the idea of borrowing compositions from existing artworks, to create a new piece all together. This isn’t a new practice, but one that is under utilized. If we look at Edouard Manet’s “Dejeuner sur l’herbe” (Luncheon on the Grass), we can see he borrowed the same composition from a group in Raimondi’s engraving from 1510 of Raphael’s design of “The Judgement of Paris”, who in turn borrowed this group from a portion of a Roman sarcophagus. To explore this practice, my students are asked to find compositions of multiple figures that they find stimulating. Then they have to find the 3-D directions implied (or hidden) in the work by turning the composition into geometric forms based on the positions of the figures individually or in mass as well as directional rhythms. This usually strips away all the piece’s content and gives us a pure version of the pathways of structure in the work All of the dominant ideas of composition are mostly based in 2-D ideas. For example using the golden section, use of thirds, triangles and straight direction lines, etc. all keep our eye on the front surface of the work. One point perspective keep us in the middle (which is a very powerful place to be, do not be afraid to use the center. Using it means thinking about it, not avoiding it!) In the final we will also consider the color and tonal patterns from the original. When the structural information is exposed, we can build a new piece out of this borrowed composition and add our own content in whatever medium we feel confident to work in and fits with our existing work. It is very demanding and exciting and gives us a strong clue to the way in which earlier compositions were designed. More about that later!
A handful of books to consider: The Gist of Art by John Sloan, Drawing and the Art of Drawing by Philip Rawson. He is brilliant anything by him is valid. Currently I have been quoting from his book Art and Time, which has a lot to do with our current project! High Focus Drawing by James McMullen, who was my primary teaching mentor. His work helped me find the freedom to draw out into the big scary empty parts of the paper… And everything turned out just all right! These are just a few that have found to be more insightful than some of the ones everyone knows of… And those are important too. Like the books by Bridgeman, Hogarth, Bernard Chaet, Loomis, Peck and more. Collect books on drawings of all kinds!
“Drawing Multiple figures on a Ground Plane.” Using a ground plane for your drawing means you are placing multiple figures in the drawing space, correlating to each other either perspectively or on a single defined line. Use your eye level as a guide for where you are placing your figures, so that it is a believable composition. These are improvisational arrangements, like music, benefits from the musicians having a fundamental understanding of the structure hey are following. To ground yourself, consider using one of these four principles: Convex, Concave, Frieze and Float. A Convex Composition: figures create a formation coming towards the viewer on eye level. Anchor something low in front and center and let the background figures recede into the distance. Creating a “U” shaped axis of figures. A Concave Composition: figures create a formation going away from the the viewer on eye level. Anchor something high in back and center and let the foreground figures advance forward. Creating an INVERTED “U” shape axis of figures. A Frieze Composition: a shallow space where the figures are on the same line, with no scale staggering between them. Figures on the same line can overlap. A Frieze in Greek architecture was a decorative band on an outside wall, broader than a string-course and bearing lettering, or depicted low relief sculptures on one plane. Creating a “___ ” plane for your figures to stand on. A Float Composition: rarely depicted, figures draw in space, without a defined ground plane giving the “floating” effect. Feels like a bundled mass to the viewer. Random figure placement, mostly seen in depictions of floating angelic figures.