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Archive for the ‘Still life’ Category

16ribbondrawg

So simple.  A wide, stiffly woven ribbon held up by some poles, the kind you’ll find in packages of blank  CD’s.  The ribbon is meandering through space, making hair-pin curves and casting lovely shadows. In reality it’s merely lovely.  In the drawing (the poles are omitted) the ribbon becomes animated, mysterious and sur-real.

16ribbon1

Here’s another angle. You can draw right now, from this image on your screen.

16ribbon2

We started class with this exercise.

16ribbon1a

Drawing by Maggy Shell, charcoal, ~ 14” x 18”.

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

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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.

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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.

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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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16septcharlstilllife

One of the reasons we draw from still lifes is that they are so forgiving.  A pot looks just as convincing whether you draw it fat or 16septlstilllifeskinny. Drapery can be pushed and pulled and ironed out.  This forgiveness leaves us free to experiment with the feeling of the drawing itself, feeling that comes from line quality, dynamics of light and dark, rhythm and composition.

Working from this pile of round forms and edges, the artist could have chosen to draw any passage in great detail.  He chose, instead, to draw the sweep of the whole arrangement.  It formed and arc.  As he drew from left to right, some aspects captivated him more than others and he shaded them for greater emphasis, time being 16septcharlstilllifearclimited, after all. Limited time is a good thing.  Because with more time, more details might have been filled in and we would have lost this lovely arc.  The drawing now has not only content, which anybody can get with due diligence, but also form, which comes out of a deeper crinkle of your brain. Tickling that crinkle is more than half the trick.

Charles Stern, graphite on paper, ~12” x 16”

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

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16draperycolumn

It’s quite startling to see this drawing in the studio/class room where it was produced because at the same time you can also see the pile of cloth and pottery that it was produced from. Before he starts to draw the artist, Linné Dosé, selects a portion of the still life.  What that means is that he sees a coherent unit and deletes everything else from his vision.  This is a skill he has developed by himself and to great effect.

The effect is that an object appears on the drawing paper, very convincing and solid but without any spatial reference. The object elicits a double take.

We read the drapery as cloth (soft) and at the same time as a column (solid).  The pot appears to be heavy and three dimensional and at the same time we can see it’s an incomplete drawing. It’s a play on perception.

Drawing by Linné Dosé, graphite, ~18” x 14”

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

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16eminencegrise

Once again I got so interested in what everybody was doing that I forgot to take a picture of the still life set up.  But you recognize these pots from previous posts.  So do the students, having faced them innumerable times before.  Are they complaining?  No, because it’s not about the crockery.  It’s about what happens on the drawing paper.

So many choices.  What to draw, what to leave out. What to relate to what.  How to move the eye through the page.

16eminencegrisenumbersNotice that the grouping at (1) relates in value to (4) and therefore your eye moves diagonally across the page.

The lines of the drapery converge at (3).  But right at that point of convergence the charcoal has been lifted to keep that spot from dominating the page.

And what about that huge pot, (2)?  No shading, no detail, no reflection, no roundness. We don’t need any of that.  We know exactly what it is. Une éminence grise, ha. It becomes important precisely because it doesn’t shout.

I love a witty still life.

Drawing by Maggy Shell, charcoal, ~14”x18”

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

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