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Archive for September 27th, 2011

In the 15th and 16th century, if you wanted to make it as an artist, you had to be good at painting flesh: muscles and bosoms, etc.  In the 19th century we got into landscapes.  In the 20th, we expected to be surprised and even shocked and we now take it for granted that art gives us something new, a new perception.

Here are a couple of drawings from a still life set up that offered all sorts of subjects, including  an apple  nicely poised next to a pitcher.  But the pitcher-apple  combination is a trope in still life studies.  It’s more exiting to draw…a garden hose. That is, if you see a coiled up garden hose as an interesting subject.  Seeing is the first step and it can take students many months, even years, to experience the pleasure of shapes in banal objects and then to summon the courage to draw something so banal.  And then to have the skill to make a compelling drawing of …a garden hose.

Another exiting take of the still life is this one, showing the studio stools underneath.  They provide a severe counterpoint to the rolling hills of drapery.  They also allow a peek of the drapery completely in shadow—another counterpoint to the drapery on top.  There’s drama in this drawing. When you choose to include the underside of the “real” subject, you don’t have to know exactly how this will work out.  You just have to have a feeling for the not-so-given, the not-so-obvious, the not-so-comfortable.  This makes you a modern artist.

(Click to enlarge the images.)

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