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Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

What the!

Yes, it’s a spray bottle wearing a pair of glasses.

I get paid for thinking up stuff like this.

Let me explain. This exercise combines two topics: perspective and profile.  In the previous class we had worked on the topic of perspective. Nothing elaborate, just one-point and two-point perspective, using architectural images to find the vanishing points.  For our purposes in this drawing class, perspective is not crucial, but it’s a useful tool.  It comes in handy, for example, when you draw a face in three-quarter view. The eye farther away from the viewer (the one behind the bridge of the nose) will be smaller than the eye closer to you.  That farther-away eye is tricky to draw, so we didn’t even go there.  It’s enough to just get the point of diminished size.   And to get that across, I set a pair of glasses on a spray bottle, one combo for each student.

Notice, that the perspective in the glasses is exaggerated in these drawings, according to my instruction.  Students are universally reluctant to exaggerate anything for the simple reason that they want to draw what they see.  Fine.  But to add drama and to make a point, you need to summon the courage to exaggerate.  Add that to the lesson in perspective and profile.

All in all, a profitable class.   Initially, eyebrows were raised at the goofy sight of spray bottles wearing glasses.  Then followed the challenge of getting all the elements together, representationally and technically.  The motif only works if the drawing technique is fairly precise and the object is shown matter-of-factly and in its entirety.  This is why one student found it necessary to add a strip of paper at the bottom of her initial sheet.  A fourth lesson learned:  it’s ok to do this, if you run out of paper, just tape on an addition.

I have since learned that one of these drawings has been framed and hung in a law office.

Do this at home:  grab a spray bottle, put your glasses on it, reflect on the complexity of reading a face.  See?  Not goofy at all.

(To enlarge, click on image.)

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

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http://facefame.wordpress.com

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He knew all about perspective and light and shadow.  He had studied classical doctrines of picture making and he knew that using these tools was the polite way to make a painting.  But Cézanne (1839-1906) throws all those polite conventions out.  Instead, he negates perspective—look at the table’s  edge, the table is tipping forward—and he paints the pitcher at a tilt.  There’s a precipitous feeling here, as if someone were under the table and pushing it towards you—“in your face,” into your eyeball.

In the still life with apples and wine bottle we have  at the Art Institute of Chicago, we can see that he propped up the bowl of fruit to make it tilt forward. We can’t see the coins he pushed under the wine bottle, but people who knew him said that’s what he did.  The table top, as usual with Cézanne, defies the rules of perspective and the front edge is discontinuous.

Cézanne treats a landscape the same way.  Le Mont Sainte-Victoire, the mountain near Aix-en-Provence where he lived and which he painted dozens of times, is not impressive.  I was there.  It’s a scruffy drab triangle in the distance.  But when he painted it, he made it imposing, mythic.  He painted it much bigger than it is and he compressed the distance from his easel to the mountain.  It’s as if he had walked right up to it, then walked behind it and picked up the horizon and pushed the whole landscape up like a stage set made up of corrugated cardboard.  Like the table with the fruits, the mountain is now “in your face,” right on top of your optic nerve.  Actually, everything is.  The sense of foreground-middleground-background is lost.  Everything in that landscape is on the same plane.  It’s only because we can identify “trees, house, mountain” that we project onto the painting a sense of spacial depth.  All the while Cézanne is doing his best to negate all those assumptions as he creates a flat, brittle surface of passages of colors and shapes.

If this makes you think of Cubism, you’re on the right track.  Picasso famously called Cézanne the father of Cubism.

I mention Cézanne here as an introduction to the next post, which is about a painting done in my “Impressions of Landscape” class.  Well, that, and also because I love Cézanne—I used to “worship” him until I made my pilgrimage to Aix about sixteen years ago–and will talk about him at the slightest provocation.

This photo of the mountain from the spot where Cézanne painted the Sainte Victoire from  Bellevue  is by Erle Loran, from his book Cézanne’s  Composition, Univ of California Press, 1943.

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

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

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The drawing I discussed at length in the last post was done in China Marker on gloss paper, where erasing is possible only by scraping with a razor blade.  The same materials were used for this drawing, from that same drawing session, 1.17.11.   In this drawing I did no scraping, but only added the dark background later and then also deepened some of the work on the figure itself with bolder strokes of the China Marker—not in outlines, but in patches.

In the next drawing I started to experiment with the addition of perspective lines, carefully measured out on the drawing board.  The drawings, generated from a ten to fifteen minute pose, can certainly left as is, but I’m finding it more and more interesting to fiddle with composition later when I’m back in my own studio.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a before-and-after for these drawing.  I’ll be more pedagogically minded in the future and remind myself to scan in the drawing before it gets subjected to “atmospherics” and compositional calculations.

This last drawing is in pencil (6B) on a scrap of museum grade mat board, about 10 x 10.   Acid free mat board is a luxurious support for drawing because it’s very soft, spongy almost, and allows the soft pencil to dig in to produce a rich, juicy line.  It’s not intended to be drawn on, being rather like compressed lint and lacking fiber.  But it offers the added perk of not allowing for erasing.  Hmmm, that limitation focuses the mind.

More on fiddling with composition, atmospherics and developing a drawing…soon.

http://facefame.wordpress.com

www.khilden.com

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

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