Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Karen’

When you draw something, say a vase with roses, you naturally are interested in the subject.  You get absorbed by the challenge of light and shadow and proportions. When you’ve solved all the problems of representing the subject credibly, you stand back and what you’re going to see is an illustration of the vase with the roses.  This is quite satisfying.  But I’m going to challenge you further.   I’m going to claim that the illustration is not enough:  it’s not art.

For this work to be considered art we need something more, we need some drama. You can create drama by becoming aware of “negative space.”  All the space around the vase-and-roses needs to be given its due attention.  The drama of negative space comes into focus through the simple act of cropping.  By cropping your drawing you go beyond the literalness of the vase-and-roses.  You make the viewer aware that your drawing is not an illustration—how trite that is!—but an invitation to reflect on the complexity of reality and the mind games we play as we try to navigate through that reality.  Cropping what was originally an illustration makes the image more immediate and momentarily invites the viewer to go deeper than the mere identification of what’s depicted.

Drawing of vase and roses by Karen G.

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

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

Karen is one of the two students who followed my direction about this still life: Plan on doing two drawings. In the first, study the shapes and produce a representational drawing.  In the second, take off and play with form, with a deliberate departure from representation.

In her second drawing (above) she inverted some of the pots, took the pear that rested on top of the pots and put it on the bottom of her drawing and invented forms that were not in the still life at all.  The angular shapes on top may have been inspired by the corner of the room or the angle of the door.  The striped crescent is pure invention, for the sake of the composition. The drawing is explosive and dense at the same time. It’s a work of conviction and playfulness.  These are—intellectually—contradictory terms, but in a work of art they co-exist because in art we reconcile contradictions; we get at the whole ball o’ wax, also known as the human condition.

At right, the artist’s first drawing, quite literal and faithful.  This is the same view that she worked from for the second drawing. (above)

This post is the last in the series about drawings made in one three-hour session by seven students.  To follow the discussion of this still life, see posts for May 22, 23, and 24; and June 5,6, and 12.

 

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

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

New York City.  A driver in his car shouts to a pedestrian on the sidewalk: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”  The guy says, “Practice.”

It’s a well-known joke.  But it’s not a joke.  That really is IT.  Practice!

Funny thing, though, everybody knows this about music, but when it comes to moving a pencil around, fuhgedaboudid.  Would you sign up for piano lessons and then not practice all week and just come in for your lesson?  Of course not!  But there’s something about the ordinariness of a pencil and a piece of paper, not to mention the ordinariness of a pile of pots or the ordinariness of your left hand or the ordinariness, even, of your face in a mirror, that makes you think this has got to be easy.  So when I say, “practice during the week!”  my students look at me as if my voice came out of the moldy 12th century or any other alien worldview you can name.

Imagine my delight when I get to see the homework my drawing student Karen G. brings to class every week to show me.  Not homework, really, I don’t assign it.  She just carves out time every week to draw.  She draws the throw over a chair.  She draws the skirting around a little table.  She draws drapery. And lo and behold…drapery drawing can be learned and her progress in that skill is evident.  Seeing the intricacy of shadow-light-reflected-light becomes easier and faster with practice.  (See post about reflected light, April 24, 2011.)

This practice business actually puts you in good company.  How did Leonardo da Vinci spend his time? Errmmm….he practiced.  In art history, these drawings are called “studies.”   If the word “practice” sounds too severe or uncomfortable to you, you can use more elevated language.  You can silence your ring tone and tell yourself that for the next hour you’re engaged in making a work called, “Study of Drapery.”  Hey, play word games to make it easier, tell yourself jokes, whatever gets you to “Carnegie Hall.”

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

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

Negative space is a tricky concept because it’s so obvious.  If you’re drawing a vase on a table, the vase is called the positive space (or the figure) and the space around it is called the negative space (or the ground).  The reason is simple:  we look at the vase because it’s a thing that holds our attention and we can name it;  everything else, the space around it, is unnamed, and we don’t look at it.  So, what’s tricky about this?  And why does it take some people years, like twenty, to get this?

The tricky part of negative space is that the vase in reality is not the same as the vase in the image you make.  I hear you say, so?  Let me try again.  We look at the real vase on the real table one way and the vase drawn in graphite on paper in another way.  Right, you say, I got that, so what else is new?  Ok, here’s another try.  The real vase on the table has a function in your life (for example, you use it), while the vase in the drawing serves no purpose, doesn’t do any work for you.  Hmmmmm, you say, we may be getting warm here. You’re still listening, so I’ll say one more thing before you get up and leave.  Here it is:  the vase in the drawing is part of a composition that is bounded by the edge of the paper and every square inch of that paper is important, not just  the three or four square inches that are taken up by the vase.  You curl your lip.  Duh, is that supposed to be deep or something?   You get up to leave.  Yes, I say after you with a fading voice, it is…deep…actually.

That’s today’s attempt to verbalize the tricky concept of negative space. Applause, thank you, thank you.   Failed again.  It’s still tricky.

One of my drawing students, Karen G., has been working with negative space in all her still lifes and with rich effects for almost a year.  As you look at these drawings you can see that they are not about pots and canisters and old buckets.  These mundane objects are certainly there and granted a certain privilege in the middle of the composition.  But your eye doesn’t get fixated on them. Instead your attention moves over the whole page.  Every square inch is alive.

Even in this drawing of loops we see the use of negative space in the way the artist/student creates tension between the two rows.  The negative space itself has a lively shape.  This was the result of inventiveness and the artist’s  sense of “the whole picture.” The physical object she worked from was a pretty dismal line of loops that had been cut from the edge of a trampoline cover or somesuch thing.  We’re not talking about some noble display of Greek amphoras here.  To make an image of these loops she had to see rhythm and form.  Not only form-meaning-positive-space,  but also form-meaning-negative-space.  This is tricky and a really big deal.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts