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Archive for May 11th, 2010

Loosen up!

Easier said than done.  A colleague of mine who also teaches drawing confesses that she loses it every now and then. In the middle of the class she will shout, all right, everybody, loosen up! If this command brings about the desired effect, it’s not noticeable.  My guess is that loosing up comes

after you’ve done an awful lot of careful drawings that taught you what you’re actually seeing. Being loose is not the same as being sloppy.  There are exceptions.  Sometimes making an expressive scribble right off the bat is a wonderful thing and you stand back and consider yourself lucky that day. But most of the time, you can be loose in your drawing when you know your subject so well that you can let your lines skate over the whole paper while keeping about thirty-nine different things in your mind simultaneously.  Drawing loose means you’re thinking fast. That comes with time and practice.  Not only in the sense of your drawing career, but it can happen within one drawing session. Today, for example, I was at the Y again, drawing a twelve year old as part of that after school program I’ve written about earlier.  In one hour I did six drawings of the head.  My model, T.P, was pretty fidgety—hey, sitting still is hard work. So I had to work fast and I worked with China marker, a waxy thing that doesn’t allow for any erasing. Here are  drawings two, three and four.

You can see the progression from hard to soft, from deliberate, careful lines to more scribbly,  gestural lines. The first drawing attempts a definite study of the features. By the third drawing  I have a pretty good reading of the features.  Now I’m more interested in the mood, the feeling.  This happens by itself.  I’m not aware that I’m switching gears. It’s only later, when I line up the finished  drawings, that I can see what happened. Keep in mind, these drawings took about seven or eight minutes each.  The originals are on 8½x11 paper, or a little bigger.   Here’s drawing five.

It’s important NOT to erase.  That, I think, is the key to loosing up.  You just draw, filling one page after the next. If a drawing  doesn’t come together, you abandon it and start another one.  Erasing puts you into an error-alert mode. When you have an eraser in your hand, you keep thinking, “oops, wrong, no good.”  No good. You want to keep drawing. You want to keep the momentum.

This was the last drawing in a one-hour session.  It is 14 x 11, very fast, about 7 minutes. He liked the first drawing and this last one best.

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