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Archive for July, 2011

The Momento Mori or Vanitas still life I talked about in post for 6.17.11 led to a meticulous drawing by Louise F.  I’ll show two stages of her drawing.  Above is the drawing as it was at the end of the three-hour class.  I liked it at this stage and considered it finished.  I loved the side view of the violin because it was unusual and unconventional.  It offers a hint of the violin and just enough information to allow the viewer to identify the object.  There’s a mystery about it because of its averted angle.  Also mysterious are the flowers—where do they come from?  Then the scrolls of paper, echoing the scroll at the violin’s neck, but again, what are these things doing here?  We can’t quite make sense of the meeting of these objects, but at the same time the forms are perfect, all playing on each other.

Louise didn’t think it was finished at this stage.  She didn’t like the vacant space at the bottom.  The violin was resting on some drapery, which she didn’t have time to draw during the class period.  She invented some drapery at home, filled in the “vacant” space at the bottom and framed the drawing.  The pencil marks now fill out a rectangle, which conforms to the shape of the mat and frame. There’s more to look at.  The drawing looks more finished and complete and this is satisfying to most viewers.

We’ve encountered the opposition of the classical and romantic sensibility before in this blog.  My preference for the “vacant” space, for the incomplete feeling, is part of the romantic approach.  Louise, like most students (in my experience), preferred the complete, balanced drawing without the open space.  That’s the classical sensibility expressing itself.

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

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When you draw something, say a vase with roses, you naturally are interested in the subject.  You get absorbed by the challenge of light and shadow and proportions. When you’ve solved all the problems of representing the subject credibly, you stand back and what you’re going to see is an illustration of the vase with the roses.  This is quite satisfying.  But I’m going to challenge you further.   I’m going to claim that the illustration is not enough:  it’s not art.

For this work to be considered art we need something more, we need some drama. You can create drama by becoming aware of “negative space.”  All the space around the vase-and-roses needs to be given its due attention.  The drama of negative space comes into focus through the simple act of cropping.  By cropping your drawing you go beyond the literalness of the vase-and-roses.  You make the viewer aware that your drawing is not an illustration—how trite that is!—but an invitation to reflect on the complexity of reality and the mind games we play as we try to navigate through that reality.  Cropping what was originally an illustration makes the image more immediate and momentarily invites the viewer to go deeper than the mere identification of what’s depicted.

Drawing of vase and roses by Karen G.

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

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http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

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