Archive for May 17th, 2012

I worked with Utrecht marker on gloss paper, very fast.  The twisting of the feet and the weight-bearing shoulder had potential for development, but not in this medium, which does not allow for nuances. In markers, it’s all or nothing.  The figure as a whole can be seen as a diagonal line, not very interesting by itself.  Should I give up on this drawing?  Giving up teaches you nothing.  I prefer to dig in and see how a little nothing can serve as a point of departure for an exploration.  The figure invited some kind of counterpoint.  Earlier in the class I had given a demo on how various markers behave and so I just reached for some of my brighter markers and created a context for this languid,  passive, pretty boring figure.

Notice what happens with the addition of color in the “background.”

1. The abstract, freely invented background affects the way we interpret the figure. The figure, rather crudely drawn if regarded by itself, now can be read as an abstract design, a play on lines.  But it’s still a nude, with all the psychological and existential pull of that motif.

2. Enter the power of color.  The figure is a white empty space and the so-called negative space or “ground” –because of its vivid, stained-glass colors–now pulls our attention.  You get a tug, a dynamic, call it what you like, it’s the experience that counts.  And what you experience, going back and forth between figure and ground, is the whole image. That’s a paradox and when you’re inhabiting that paradox, you have what you can call an aesthetic experience.

This exercise illustrates the tremendous emotional pull of color.  If you put a scribble in pencil on paper, the scribble would have to dance in a most cultivated gesture to affect the viewer.  But if you take a bright marker and scribble any ol’ clumsy mess on the paper, it will have appeal—simply by virtue of the power of color in itself.

This goes a long way towards explaining why drawing classes are small and painting classes pull in a larger registration.  Drawing is harder.  The only tool you have to work with is a black line. Now, do something with that.  This assignment can be rather austere. You have to stick with it to cultivate your hand and eye.  Whereas, with color, the medium itself makes you sigh, ahhh, how beautiful, I love that color.  Add to that the comfort-food gooiness of the paint, and you’re seduced.  It’s deceptive, though.  If you rely on the power of color alone, you’ll produce sentimental stuff and we’ve seen too much of that, haven’t we.  You  do need to draw.  And once you do, you’ll experience the seductive power of the pencil line.  Or the marker line, or charcoal, or pen, or whatever you want to make a mark with.

Back to the drawing board!  Drawing is, so to speak, the bottom line.

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




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