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Archive for March, 2011

We like drawing the face looking straight at us.  It’s easy that way because all the features are aligned symmetrically so that as we draw, we can orient ourselves without getting lost.  But a full frontal view is limited in its expressive possibilities.  We all know from our everyday interactions with people that people tilt their heads as they speak and look at things and that a little tilt conveys attitude and emotional meaning.  Those of us who are privileged enough to participate in life drawing know something else:  the model stands on an elevation and as we draw her/him we look up at the face, seeing the jaw from underneath.  When the model reclines or twists, we also see the face and neck from this foreshortened angle. That angle is quite beautiful, if I may use that old-fashioned word, but also quite challenging, because it presents us with both subtlety and at the same time a definite anatomical geometry.  To avoid the issue, students tend to just ignore what’s in front of their eyes and instead draw a full frontal , standard-issue face.  That makes for a sad drawing.

It was time to face the underside of the face, where the neck meets the jaw.  My presentation  started with a face on a lampshade.  As we tilt the lampshade back, we see the underside of the nose, which becomes triangular, and the underside of the lampshade, which becomes an ellipse.  The stem of the lampshade is now roughly in the middle of the ellipse.  We rotate the face to the left and move the stem to the right, and, voila, the analogy to head-with-neck becomes obvious.  An aha! -moment for all students.  The demo was clear, but it turned out to be a little harder to put into practice. But by now we know, don’t we, that practice is the thing!  The muscle that wraps around the neck-tube, extending from the back of the ear to the sternum in front, is called the sternocleidomastoid. A fun word to stay, but a bear to draw.  So—surprise, ha—the neck is not exactly the simple stem of a lampshade, but seeing the analogy does help you visualize what’s going on.

Practice!

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

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Is this woman being rescued by this man?  Did she just faint, overcome by the beauty of Carl Andre’s  steel tiles on the floor (lower left)?

This is a museum scene.  Specifically, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, a week ago.  The Luna Negra Dance Company performed in the gallery space that day–interacting with the exhibit pieces–and I happened to catch it.  I filmed part of the performance with my little pocket camera.  (See link at end of this post.)

Seeing professional dancers bopping, banging, hugging, lying on, sliding and slithering around art work in museum galleries in the middle of the day was a special treat.  But actually, for me, the museum experience always involves observing other museum goers.  I have a romantic, modernist sensibility. That means that the question “What Is Art” is always an issue.  When I observe other people in museums and galleries, I always wonder if they’re thinking “Is This Art?”  I wonder how they relate to these objects and what expectations they bring with them when they enter the museum.

In the 19th century skyscrapers were called “cathedrals of commerce” and museums were called “cathedrals of culture”   or  “cathedrals of art.”  Doesn’t that sound like ancient history!  We don’t hear that kind of  cathedral talk nowadays.  People who expect to encounter the sacred and find a pile of gravel on the floor, are either offended or they’re prompted to redefine the sacred.  How about Félix Gonzáles-Torres’s hill of candy in the corner, where you’re invited to take a piece.  Where’s the grand cathedral feeling in that?

Modern and Contemporary Art requires the reaction of the viewer for its completion. It doesn’t give you the answer, it doesn’t reassure, it doesn’t confirm your old assumptions.  Instead, it asks questions.  In that respect it’s actually rather Socratic—talk about the ancients.  A visit to the art museum gives your brain a work out. The MCA is very explicit on this topic.  On one side of the wall: “Without you;”  on the other side: “I’m nothing.”  The YOU here is the audience, the museum goer, the art observer.

A Robert Irwin piece has this quote next to it>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Consciousness, perception.  Big words?  Abstract concepts?  No, it’s where we live.  Everybody. The MCA looks more like a playground than a cathedral.  That’s good, because if we’re going to reflect about perception and consciousness, we better be relaxed.

Get off your knees.  Hop skip jump.

http://facefame.wordpress.com

https://artamaze.wordpress.com

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

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Drawing with pen and ink is liberating (see post 1.29.11) but drawing with a stick is like flying.  By stick I mean something like a shish kabob stick.  The pen limits you to moving only down or sideways, and if you’re too wild, it will sputter and balk on you. But the humble stick knows no restrictions.  It will dance along with you any way you like to move—up, down, sideways, fast and slow.

These drawings were made with a stick dipped in non-waterproof sepia ink.   The poses were ten to fifteen minutes.

 

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

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