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15JanPots

This is how the drawing sat on the page.

You can see that the artist/student, Linné Dosé, has developed a love of composition and form.   The drawing suggests a still life, you know, the usual pottery. But notice, we don’t get details here, no loyalty to the objects, no shadow and reflected-light games.

A work of art tells you how it wants to be looked at. This drawing directs your mind away from literalness.  It says, forget the pots.

Shape, Form, Space!

As it sits on the drawing paper it extends horizontally and that suggests a setting, a certain degree of literalness.

Now look what happens when we crop it to a square.

15JanPotsCropRad

The forms are so much more pure forms.

The square format will do that.  Uncanny.  It speaks to our modern sensibility.

Why would that be?

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

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FourPots
You might think that this is a sketch, to be elaborated on later. You might think this is a hasty scribble on the back of an envelope, a reminder of the rough composition so that the artist would later work out details and make a “presentable, salable work of art.”
So wrong.
To be able to see like this!
This is a very advanced form of seeing.
FourPotsPhotoAIt’s not about documenting the shape of the pots. The photo does that. It’s not about proving that you’re diligent, that you put in the time and now you’ll price the drawing according to the time you slaved over the drawing. There are people who think like that. So master-servant 16th century. And if you think your five-year-old can do this, well, you need to come to class.
What makes the drawing so great is the form. Not the shape of the pots. The form of the drawing! Seeing form is like reading between the lines in a story, reading deeper than the narrative. It’s seeing through the shapes, seeing deeper than what’s illustrated. The artist here is not illustrating pots. She is creating a page that stands on its own.
She creates a tug between positive and negative space. We expect the pots, being graspable things, to hold our attention. The ground they stand on is supposed to just passively support objects. But notice that the shape of the ground is more emphatically articulated than the objects. It’s dark and has a stepped shape of its own. The shape of the pots is predictable and our expectation projects more information into them that is actually given. Even though they are presented in casual curves and ellipses, we read them clearly. We as viewers are engaged in completing the presentation. A good thing. We also notice that the whole page is a dialogue between the severe,angular, rational edge of the black ground and the curved, flamboyant, irrational lines of the identifiable objects. So good.
Back to the sketch idea. The drawing, above, was preceded by a more elaborate working out of this FourPots2motif. The artist put in some folds of the cloth that covered the table. In other words, details. This is also an interesting drawing, but not as exciting as the one featured here. The artist had to wrestle with details, with the impulse to represent more literally what she actually saw,  to attain the view of form that marks the stark drama of the final drawing.
Drawings by Maggy Shell, charcoal on paper, ~14”x18”
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
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Buzz—Zone—Energy.  Whatever you call it, something extraordinary happens in a painting and drawing studio.    And, for now, I don’t even mean the results on paper and canvas.  I mean the change in the way your mind works.  Students have often told me,  that at the end of a three-hour class they SEE things differently.  The drive from is distinctly different from the drive to.  Street lights are still street lights but they are also unexpected disks of color against, say, a gray/brown rectangular pattern of buildings.  Tree trunks and telephone poles appear to be rhythms; foliage appears as texture;   the horizon becomes a defining line; a lawn will look like a water color wash.  You still drive safely and you find your way home just as you do when you go grocery shopping, but the drive from the art class has another dimension.  Art makes you aware of form.  It’s quite thrilling. It’s transforming, transcendent, transfixing, transmogrifying, transmitting, transporting, transposing,  translating.  Art puts you in a trans mode, hmmm.  It’s also transient, alas, and transgressing.  It’s a gas.  It’s a trip.  It’s like totally awesome.   I don’t understand why art classes are not filled to overflowing.

Above, my landscape painting class on a rainy day, when we were inside and working on color, values and composition.  Notice that the trees in the painting and the hair of the artist/student take on the same form.

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

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