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Posts Tagged ‘Alejandra’

1304AlejandraFacesAquarelle

These studies were made from a photo of a man who was apparently in the middle of saying something or reacting to a situation with surprise.  He wasn’t posing. He wasn’t self-conscious or trying to look good for the camera.  He wasn’t trying to get his “essence” across.

Notice how animated this page of studies is.  The fragmentary nature of each face does not at all annoy us.  On the contrary, we move from one “take” to another and in doing so we sense the vitality of this character.

The artist/student, Alejandra, used the Stabilo All Aquarellable pencil on gloss paper and created the feathered edges with a damp paper towel.  This medium itself encourages movement in the drawing process and in the perception of the subject.  Nothing is static.

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

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1304AlejandraFaceCrop

I promise, we’ll move on to other topics besides cropping, but the power of cropping cannot be underestimated.

This face was one of four studies on the same page. The model was a magazine add with strong shadows, selling jewelry of all things. In setting up the exercise, I stressed that we were not after a likeness of this beautiful woman, but were using her as a point of departure for expressive studies of the face.  We already know that beauty and expressiveness are incompatible, a major thread in these conversations.

1304AlejandraFaceThe page as a whole did not work because the faces were too similarly drawn and were all the same size.  What to do?  CROP!  You can see the edges of the strips of paper we used in cropping.  The result is an expressive face.

But wait, there’s more.  What if we crop even more radically!  What if we slice the image through the eye on the right edge.  That’s the image at the top of this post.  It’s far removed from literalness, from illustration. Now we have a provocative image. It’s truly an image, in the sense that it is more than what it represents.

Let me point out just three things that make this image so rich.

1304AlejandraFaceCropLines*The left half of the page is all texture.

 *The contour of the face is varied, so that as we trace it we travel over three different “landscapes.”

 * One eye is in the middle of the page. Uncanny! There’s a study of this phenomenon (I can’t remember the author’s name now) that shows that portrait artists will compose their subject in such a way that one eye of the sitter is in the middle of the canvas.

 —————————————————————— Velazquez(1599-1663), Portrait of Juan de Pareja

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

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130411AlejandraWoodManCrop

What is that?  You look at this and you don’t know what it represents.  You look at it anyway and you keep looking at it.  Could it be that you look at this drawing precisely because you don’t know what it represents and that puts you into a visual mode.  You look for the pleasure of looking.

Now here’s the whole drawing from which the above is a passage.  Now you know.  But notice, this drawing, where you 130411AlejandraWoodMan1get the whole story, is not as much fun to look at.  Simple reason: now you know what’s what and being in that what’s-what state of mind is not interesting.  The mind prefers mystery—at least in a work of the imagination.

Alejandra cropped an intriguing passage out of a still life drawing that was too literal and saved the day.

130411AlejandraWoodManAll contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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13CanistersAle

We started the class by practicing the ellipse.  You can’t draw an ellipse, you have to swing it. You practice swinging your hand over the paper and then—keeping that swing—you lower the pencil and there’s your ellipse. You fill a couple of sheets of paper with these practice ellipses and then when you feel you’ve got that swing, you slide your drawing onto your board and you swing those elliptical canister tops into place.

13CanistersAleSliverAlejandra was faced with a still life consisting of ellipse-stressing canisters and some droopy drapery.  But in her drawing nothing is canned and nothing droops.  In her drawing, the drapery looks like oak tree roots and the ellipses seem to fade into memory.  She either found this set up very exiting or boring beyond tolerance, because something in her imagination popped.

Notice how the carefully cropped selection (right) coveys even more tension, drama and mystery than the whole composition (top). We will have more examples of cropping in the following two posts.

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

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13AleLilaDrawing

It must be a resort.  The chairs are standing randomly on sand.  She’s elegantly but casually dressed and she’s enjoying 13AleLilaPhotothe sunshine.

The drawing derived from this old family photo could have been more representational.  The artist/student, Alejandra Podesta, certainly has the skill to work out the anatomy and the perspective problems.  But she chooses not to go that academic route and, as a result, produces a fine, expressive drawing. The drawing seems to breathe and reflects the grace and ease of the woman in the photo: notice how “open” it is (pink circles) and how the arched chair forms repeat and create a graceful 13AleLilaDrawingMarkedrhythm (green lines).  The discontinuity of the lines  or “openness” creates just enough ambiguity to invite us into the composition to complete the thought of each (circled) passage. We don’t need any more information.  More specificity would rob the drawing of its expressiveness, which I, for one, feel conveyed in the discontinuity of the lines and the rhythm of the arches.

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13AleOmiDraw2Old family photos are great to work from.  They’re usually pretty grainy, which is good because you won’t get interested in details.  Enlarge the photo on a Xerox machine to a comfortable 13AleOmiPhoto8-1/2 x 11.   Pick one from two generations ago or more.  If you can, go back to 1910-1920.  Folks wore hats then and elaborately tailored coats.  Don’t forget the umbrella.  Dressing for the photographer was serious business.  All for you, you know, coming along a century later.  Look at that costume—gives you something to work with.  It has angles and pleats and drapey effects—all zig-zagging from collar to hem for maximum drama.  And then on top, ta-tah, an ellipse just with you in mind, so that you can practice swinging your wrist.

Let me point out just three things that make this drawing by Alejandra exiting:

13AleOmiDraw2numbers

Green: the zigzag line, always energetic in a visual work.

Yellow: here the contour is omitted completely, engaging the viewer, who has to fill in the gap.

Red: the shading of the cuff and the shading of the background mimic one another, adding depth to the drawing.

You can be sure, the photographer back in 1910 also knew what he was doing when he set up this pose. Ma’am, the umbrella just a little bit over, ah,  yes, that’s right, hooooold.  Thank you!

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It’s even worse in French, “nature morte.”  But there’s nothing dead about it!  In English we call it “still life,” not much better.  There’s nothing still about it, either!  Only the life part is true.

12BowBottlelDrapeSetupImagine a studio/classroom: white walls, dirty sink, paint-splattered chairs and tables, a shelf in the corner full of bottles, bowls and plastic flowers and such.  The teacher pulls out a small table and piles some drapery on it along with bottles, an old shoe, a round ball of twine and for a touch of color, a plastic peony.  Well, yes, it’s not going anywhere.   But it isn’t still.  Just look at this drawing.

12BowBottlelDrapeAle1

The artist saw these every-day objects as vibrant and lively. This is how an artist sees. It’s not just one thing and then another.  There are recognizable, distinct objects, yes,  but the artist perceives transition and movement. What speaks to the artist is not so much 12BowBottlelDrapeAle1Contourthe shape of things,  but the lively interflow of light and dark.

Drawing focuses the mind.  When the mind sees this way, everything pulsates.  Still life, bhaaah!

To continue your study of contour and its adventures through the definition by line, omission and negative space, zoom in and follow the left contour of the white bottle in Alejandra’s drawing. The eye is engaged , surprised and refreshed.   An impressionist delight—true to life.

 

12BowBottlelDrapeAle1lines

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

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