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Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Heaton’

15JanPotsDrapeBalls
Another admirable drawing by Barbara Heaton. Here she prepared the paper as before (https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/02/15) but this time she mixed charcoal and graphite. At a distance this mixture reads well enough, but close up or viewed at certain angles, the graphite is shiny while the charcoal is dense and black. That’s what the camera picks up, too. You can see that the drapery is done in charcoal and the tall vase in graphite, an undesirable effect, I think.
15JanPotsDrapeBallCrop

The spiral on the left, like the one in the middle of the drawing, suggests a ball made of twine, but this one is drawn like a spiral without any three-dimensional shading. You can think of it as unfinished or you can think of it as suggesting a whole other way of seeing. The other way becomes more apparent when you crop, one of my favorite visual games.
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15JanHandsCharcoal
Treat yourself to an afternoon of drawing hands!
Hands. Are you kidding?
The hand is arguably the most difficult thing to draw. It takes some practice. But, look, there’s no excuse, it’s always there. Just draw it.
Actually drawing your left hand (or your right hand if you’re a lefty) is not that easy, since it’s hard to hold it steady and in a comfortable position. Therefore, I recommend that you draw from photos of hands, which are ubiquitous in our ad-crazed culture. Your desk is full of junk mail showing hands holding a product or pointing to one. It’s not junk mail, it’s a treat.
Barbara Heaton in my drawing class worked from a photo of two hands. She drew with a graphite stick on white textured paper that she had previously rubbed gray with graphite powder. The white highlights were created by erasing the graphite down to the original white paper, about 12”x14”. Is this not breathtaking?
This is classical drawing. I hope it never gets boring.
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BarbaraStillLife
It’s a privilege to look at this drawing. It’s exquisite in the purest sense, serene and composed. There’s no excess, no fussing, no posturing or wrangling for effect. It seems to have flown out of the artist’s hand.
Notice that the center pot is not shaded while the flanking two pots are shaded. The center pot is large and holds its own by virtue of contour alone. If it were shaded, it would be too heavy and insistent; it would dominate the drawing as if didn’t want to get along and it would have too much pull, too much weight. As is, it’s big and still harmonious. How did the artist make this decision, to lighten up in the middle? Did we have a lecture about this, a statement of principle, before the drawing started? No, not at all. This sort of thing happens when you’re focused on the drawing, without critical chatter in your brain, in a purely visual mode. You can’t force this. It’s a state that can occur after a couple of hours of drawing. It happens. Drawing comes from drawing.

(Drawing by Barbara Heaton, graphite)
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A chrysalis is a hard shell that shrouds the metamorphosis of an insect from its larval stage to its mature moth or butterfly form. It’s not a transformation with larval legs becoming moth legs or larval eyes becoming butterfly eyes. Rather, the larva completely disintegrates and in that DNA mush a new organization happens that we then call moth or butterfly.
A biology teacher and painting student, Barbara Heaton, was fascinated by different chrysalis shapes and the metamorphosis they encase. She wanted to use this motif in making art. We started with the MarcaRelliassumption that the work had to be large and experimented with various materials and approaches, including collaging linen pieces in the form of the chrysalis sections that would then be attached onto a large canvas–reminiscent of Conrad Marca-Relli’s work in the 1950’s.
The artist then abandoned the linen/canvas idea and instead used x-rays of spinal cords she had saved from a medical adventure in her own family. A brilliant, moving and fragile convergence: the chrysalis and the spinal cord. The chrysalis is simply a caterpillar’s way of dying so that a butterfly can be born. Simply and not so simply. It’s a metamorphosis that the imagination won’t just let be, it provokes a poetic look.

14Chrysalis
The x-ray pieces are chrysalis-cut and epoxy-glued to 20 x 18 mylar, which is suspended an inch from the wall with magnets and pegs. In a gallery exhibit there would be four of these panels in a horizontal row, each with a different chrysalis. Exquisite, a moving experience.
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Soldier4Face

I brought in photos of soldiers taken before, during and after their tour of duty in Afghanistan and suggested that the face studies be drawn on one page. The emphasis was not to be on realism, but to allow the drawing process to get messy so that accidental marks and smears would possibly bring out greater expressiveness. Messy is difficult, believe it or not. Students most often want to produce neat drawings that will please others.

Soldier2small
Here were faces of men in anguish and doubt. They could, of course, be drawn academically as a study in how features change over time and in different 14Soldier4Facemoods. But the photos invited an approach that in itself carried the expression of their torment. I gave a demo(right, click to enlarge), using the Stabilo pencil on gloss paper.
Though the photos came in sets of three, I suggested that there be four faces drawn on one page, with a fourth being synthesized by the artist.
This assignment came the week after our trip to the Wilmette Library to draw Michelangelo’s David. The David is idealized, he’s beautiful, perfect and worth studying. But perfection is not expressive. Perfection is momentarily satisfying and restful, but, as you can see from the David example, perfection Soldier3Faceinvites parody. Perfection, really, is a lie. To approach a feeling of truthfulness, you have to allow yourself get gritty.

(Drawings by Gabrielle Edgerton, Katherine Hilden and Barbara Heaton)
For more photos of soldiers to work from, see http://news.yahoo.com/photos/soldiers-portraits-before-and-after-war-1368743423-slideshow/
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