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Archive for October, 2016

Sometimes a painting reads well right from the start.

16sept1early 16sept1early2nd

At left is a painting in its very first conception.  At right, the second stage.

You can’t count on this, but it happens. Here is the finished work.

16sept1

Jan Fleckman, acrylic on canvas, 40” x 30”

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

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16openmouthphotoBecause this is an unfamiliar angle, the artist/student thought she’d better tackle it upside-down.  That’s because she didn’t trust herself to draw what’s really there; she would instead be tempted to “correct” the face and make it look more “normal.” Drawing upside-down helps you see shapes as shapes, not as labeled familiar things, and if you just stick to that program, lo and behold, everything will fall into place.

16openmouth

The photo is taken from the Wine Project by Marcos Alberti.

http://www.masmorrastudio.com/wine-project

I highly recommend these photos for students to draw from.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/upside-down-drawing/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/drawing-sculpture/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/up-side-down-face/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/drawing-on-the-right-side-of-the-brain-by-betty-edwards/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/ptolemy-in-ulm/

Drawing by Mary Petty, graphite on paper, ~ 14 x 11

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

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.katherinehilden.com

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16septdanstilllife

Dan Goffman never likes his work. He can see that his drawings are not realistic.

But I’m fascinated by it. Could that be because I’m a modernist.  I respond to composition.  Realism?  Not so much.

Ten years ago Dan Goffman suffered a stroke which resulted in partial paralysis and aphasia.  He’s a historian and author with a long scholarly bibliography. Drawing was suggested as therapy and now he draws every day.  I have his permission to show and talk about his work.  “If I hadn’t had the stroke, I wouldn’t have discovered that I can draw,” he says with wry humor.

20160922_144150What you see in this drawing is far from a depiction of objects on a table.  You throw away the realism check-list and instead your eye wanders through this pattern of shapes, textures and negative spaces.  Of all the things he could have focused on, he chose these shapes from the still life set up on the table. They sit on the page with an uncanny sense of rightness, balance and economy. Any concern about “realism” or more “detail” would have ruined the drawing. Do we need the three-dimensionality of the oranges and that bowl?  No.  The ellipse in the upper right corner is enough.  Notice how your eye briefly rests there and then keeps moving through the composition.

Drawing by Dan Goffman, graphite on paper, 30” x 22”

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/reading-a-shape/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/how-it-sits-on-the-page/

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

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.katherinehilden.com

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20160922_144150The artist/student saw the turquoise drapery as a shape. When he drew this shape, his mind simplified it into geometrical planes which sit on the page as a stepped pattern.  If you expect the drawing to document the real thing, you’ll be disappointed.  But if you look at the shape on the page and see it as something new, you’ll be intrigued.  Don’t ask, how accurate a depiction is this, but why is this so much fun to look at. 

Drawing by Charles Stern, graphite on paper, 30” x 22”

16septcharlstilllife

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/how-it-sits-on-the-page/

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

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.katherinehilden.com

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16septlargedrapepot

Draw a portion of the still life so that your drawing will have a definite shape on the page.  That was the assignment.  I brought in large 20160922_144208textured paper, 30” x 22”, and encouraged everyone to work in charcoal or very soft graphite.

Notice that the pot in reality is big.  Does it have to be drawn big? No.  The pot and the drapery should be drawn in such a way that they sit nicely on the page.  The artist adjusted the size of the pot so that it becomes part of the arc of the composition.

The arc could have been drawn as if floating in space, but the artist suggests some terra firma by putting in a line to indicate a table top.  Notice that the table top line is broken cezanne-sl-applesbehind the pot.  Cézanne plays this game in his paintings all the time. We’re not committed to documenting reality. The goal is to create a lively page.

Drawing by Jeanne Mueller, charcoal on paper, 30” x 22”

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

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loopholes

Picture this big, about 48” high.

If this painting were small, say about 12” high, the circles would look like bubbles and you might describe the painting as “cute” and “playful.”  A painting that’s bigger than you is never “cute.”

This painting by Cassandra Buccellato has a playful feeling, granted, but isn’t its play on a conceptual level?

The drips in the underpainting evoke chaos. Chaos is not a little mess, but a big solar system deal.  The circular windows impose order, not a rigid predictable order but some order, a wistful order as in “the best we can.”  The portholes we catch in this frame appear to be of an endless stream, drifting by.  I’m reminded of telescopes and the cans-o-worms they reveal: questions all the way down.

Mixed metaphors?  Well, yes, I’d rather contemplate this visually.

Painting by Cassandra Buccellato, oil on canvas, ~48” x 60”

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/3288/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/finding-order-in-chaos/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/order-interrupted/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/beyond-realism/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/naming-the-abstract/https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/willow-painting/

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

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www.katherinehilden.com

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moodnext

Didn’t paint drip in the 15th century?  It must have. Even egg tempera must have gotten runny sometimes.  But dripping paint was a no-no til the end of the 19th century.  Unthinkable; what a disgrace; quick, clean it up and let no one see how paint behaves.  In the 20th century paint was finally allowed to behave like paint.

If you’re not a painter you may think this is easy.  How hard can it be to splash paint on a piece of cloth, you say!

If you’re a contemporary painter and you have never let paint drip, hmm, that may be because you haven’t been able to. Maybe allowing paint to drip is like yoga: you stretch and it’s uncomfortable at first.

As the instructor in the “Mondrian Class” I get ecstatic—ooh, ahh—when someone first ventures into drip mode. It just happens. As with yoga, I think it’s accompanied by an exhalation of all sorts of thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots.

The above painting was produced in two class periods.  The student, Pamela Habel, has only been with us for one semester.

drips-allowedIn her previous painting, left, we can see her warming up to the idea of allowing the paint to drip.

Pamela Habel, acrylic on canvas, each painting 40” x 30”

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

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.katherinehilden.com

www.khilden.com

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