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Archive for the ‘Upside-Down Drawing’ Category

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

16openmouthusdphoto 16openmouthusd

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

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michelangelodrawusd

More precisely, drawing from photos of sculpture.

michelangeloupsidedownIf you think of drawing as translating, then drawing from sculpture is easier than drawing from life, because the sculptor has already done the half the work for you. He or she has simplified the forms for you.

Taking this a step further, drawing from a photo of a sculpture means that two-thirds of the work has been done for you.  The photo takes the additional step of flattening the three-dimension orm into two and two dimensions is where your drawing functions.   Piece o’ cake.

Well, no, not exactly simple.  You still have to get over naming what you’re drawing because naming—the whole verbal mode—gets in the way. To that end, we turn things upside-down.  And to turn a Michelangelo sculpture up-side-down, it’s really handy to have a photo of michelangelodrawingthe humongous thing, especially if the original is in Florence.

Drawing by Jeanne Mueller, graphite on paper, ~14” x 11”

michelangelo-tomb-lorenzomichelangelo

Michelangelo Buonarotti, 1475-1564.  The Medici Chapel, 1520-1534

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/

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

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jeanneptolomyupsidedown

jorgsyrlinptolomyupsidedownWhen I bring in photographs of figures or faces to draw, my students more often than not choose to draw upside-down.  This may seem counter-intuitive.  I must have been persuasive, about three years ago, when I presented Betty Edwards’ theory and research on the subject:  when you draw something upside down, you are able to disconnect your expectations and verbal labeling, allowing your brain to go into visual.  And then–ta-tah!–you actually see.

Yes, the drawing you see here was made as you see it, upside-down, from a photo that the artist/student was looking at, also upside-down.

jorgsyrlinptolomyjeanneptolomy

This is Ptolemy with is model of rotating heavenly spheres. He is one of the many historical and mythical figures that the sculptor Jörg Syrlin the Elder (1425 – 1491) carved out of oak for the choir stalls in the Ulm Minster, around 1470.

jorgsyrlinselfHere’s the sculptor, portraying himself at the end of a row of his figures, surveys his work.  These sculptures, btw, are perfectly preserved.  1470!  Very moving.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulmer_M%C3%BCnster

Building on the Ulm Minster in Southern Germany was begun in 1399 and completed in 1890.

Drawing by Jeanne Mueller, graphite on paper, ~14″ x 11″

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

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

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13StudioGallKaren

Now it’s my drawing students’ turn in the Studio Gallery.  There are thirty-three drawings on exhibit, grouped by artist.  The work stretches over a two year period. You’ll see a variety of styles, in both still life and head/figure studies. 

13StudioGalMaggyDrawing is an intimate medium. You can’t look at a drawing from across the room.  You have to get up close and personal.  This is the medium that gives you the feeling that you are entering another mind as it tries to grasp the complexities of perception. Drawing is closest to my heart.

13StudioGalLinneThanks to Cynthia Bold, Linné Dosé, Gabrielle Edgerton, Karen Gerrard, Ale Podestá, and Maggy Shell for submitting your work.  Thank you, Ale, for helping me with hanging the show and applying your good eye.

13StudioGallAleThe work is for sale, at negotiable prices.  The show closes Oct 27. 

13StudioGalGabyDrawings are hard to document by camera.  You’ll just have to come in and see.  Here’s the notice from the Evanston Art Center web site:

http://www.evanstonartcenter.org/exhibitions/sketches-studies-studio-gallery

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

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This is a sequel to the previous post. One student, Maggy, really got into the Up-Side-Down thing—meaning, the value of this approach really sunk in.  So much so, that when the Caravaggio exercise was done, she was the only one in the class to draw a face upside down from a photo.  In the process, she noticed how asymmetrical the face was and was delighted by this discovery.  When you’re drawing right-side-up it’s harder to notice such things because you tend to equalize, to perfect.  That’s a no-no!   The expressiveness and character in a face lies precisely in asymmetry.

Being all fired up by the Caravaggio exercise and then by drawing a face up-side-down, she then turned the magazine page right-side-up and drew the guy again.  This was easy now, because her seeing was “true” and it took her no time at all, with very impressive results.  It’s interesting to compare the two versions.  The second view of the face, with the photo placed right-side-up, didn’t look anything like the UPS photo drawn previously.  So, it’s not a case of doing the same thing twice, not at all.  What matters here is the ease with which the second drawing came about and that was the result of the nature of the exercise itself.

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

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Up-Side-Down drawing is counter-intuitive. It’s crazy. It’s crazier than you think.

If I ask you, a beginning drawing student, to draw the complex figures in this Caravaggio painting, you’ll give me a blank stare that says “are you kidding!”  Too many bodies, too many limbs, hands, faces…and all that anatomy and all that overlapping…no way.

Now, if I ask you to duplicate this drawing (right), you’ll hesitate, because it’s also a pile of complex anatomical forms. But at least, the clear lines make the prospect approachable.

(I made the drawing while looking at the Caravaggio painting in a book, positioned up-side-down.  I used a marker, without corrections.)

If I turn the drawing up-side-down and ask you to duplicate it, you’ll just think I’m crazy, but you’ll definitely see that this is doable.  The reason is simple:  now you’re not looking at anatomy, you’re looking at lines and funny spaces created by the lines. You’re glad your family isn’t in the room to talk you out of this, as well they might.  You came here to learn how to draw, after all, not put some nonsense on the paper.  You start.  You get into it.  Your mind goes into visual.  Wow, this is wonderful, you can do it.  You turn it over after a half hour.  There it is, something you could not have done drawing right-side-up.  Amazing?  I told you so.

Not only that, the drawing you will do right after this exercise will be easy.  You’ll see so much more clearly than if you hadn’t done that crazy up-side-down thing.

Here’s proof, students’ drawings from that class. These were done from photos of Michelangelo sculptures, Roman heads and magazine clippings.

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

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On August 1, 1979 the Chicago Tribune printed a drawing by Picasso.  It filled more than half the page.  Picasso fans immediately identified it as representing Stravinsky, but they would have been in the minority and that’s not what matters.  What matters is that the drawing was upside down.

The caption read:  “Can’t draw? Try copying this upside-down drawing.  It’s one trick art teacher Betty Edwards uses to get students into the right-side brain mode.  Because the left hemisphere cannot process inverted information, the student is forced to draw what he sees, not what he thinks should be there.”

As she was doing a demo in her drawing class one day, Betty Edward, a fifty-one year old art teacher in California, had to admit that she couldn’t talk and draw at the same time.  Her dilemma had a physiological explanation:  the left hemisphere of the brain controls verbal skills and the right side of the brain does the visual work.  Since one has to dominate at any time, the two get into a conflict if you try to draw and verbalize what you’re doing at the same time.  In order to subdue the verbal side, she made her students practice upside-down drawing.  Within three months they could draw with astonishing skill and complexity.  The before and after examples she prints in her books are breathtaking.

Three months!! !  Upside-down drawing is the most valuable exercise you can do if you want to learn to draw.  Practice!   Practice daily.

See previous post for how to set up your drawing exercise.  Save your early work in a folder somewhere.  Three months later, pull it out, place it next to your accomplished drawing and remind yourself that learning to draw was easy.  Granted, it takes a rescheduling of your time, but an hour a day and two hours on Saturday or Sunday will do it.  Congratulations!  As Edwards says, if you can write your name and ride a bicycle (not at the same time) you have the necessary motor skills and hand-eye coordination it takes to draw.

In 1986, Edwards published “Drawing on the Artist Within.”  Both books are recommended for their insights and instructions.  But it’s not about quoting artists, dropping names and technical term, or knowing theory.  It don’t mean a thing unless you set time aside to practice.  Astonish yourself!  Get into the buzz of drawing.

To quote Edwards from the Tribune article:  “It can be a life-changing process in the sense that it’s not just learning to draw but learning to look at things differently, to see more.  Many of my students say that life seems richer, that they look at people differently, not  in the verbal way of naming—old, young, ugly, pretty—and dismissing, but that they stop and look at people’s faces and trees and plants.”

(I could not find the Tribune article by Connie Lauerman online.  More on Betty Edwares at    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betty_Edwards)

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

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