Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘reflected light’

In the next few posts we will see drawings by six students. The motif was a still life showing everyday kitchen objects.   We were working from a photo of a famous painting by a famous 18th century French painter– to be introduced after you’ve seen all six student drawings.

I’m showing the drawings first because I would like you to not compare the drawings to anything. Let’s see if we can look at what’s actually there on the paper instead of “what it’s supposed to look like.”

At (1), energetic markmaking.  This area reads as the background and as such is supposed to be “nothing.” But notice that it pulsates, it’s agitated, which injects energy into the whole drawing.  Squint a little and try to imagine the drawing without that “background.” Imagine it white. Blah.  Now imagine it solid, flat black, without the texture of the markmaking. Blah. There, you see.

At (2) the shape of the pear is articulated not by an outline, but by the background pushing against the contour and thereby indicating the shape of the pear.  This is an advanced, a subtle way of seeing. A simple, beginner way of seeing is to draw a heavy line to delineate the object.  What we have here instead is the complexity of seeing the interaction of foreground and background.

The articulation of the round form at (3) is accomplished by a contour line (at the left where it overlaps the pear) and by the background pushing against the upper arch. It’s a simple round form, but if you run your eyes over its perimeter, you’ll perceive it as a complex, three dimensional form.  That’s because it’s not simply, consistently outlined.  If it were, you’d read it as a flat disk.  You can apply this way of seeing to the other round forms in this drawing, too.

The light is coming in from the left. Therefore, on the right side of the objects we see reflected light on the objects and also the deep shadow that the objects cast on the shelf. (4)   Because of this technique these two objects, peach and mug, appear most palpably solid.   This technique of reflected light plus deep shadow was developed by Renaissance painters in the 15th & 16th centuries.  It is an exaggeration of how we perceive real objects in real space, but in pictorial space the effect is dramatic and mesmerizing.

The ellipse (5) is something we practice in just about every class, at the beginning, to get that hand swinging. I say “swinging” because you have to do it fast, otherwise it comes out stiff and lifeless. This takes a lot of practice,  because when you’re working on a drawing you’re likely to be over-cautious and that means, you’ll draw it slowly and therefore, sorry, lifeless. We can see that this ellipse was drawn slowly, but for now let’s encourage more practice and move on to notice how the shadow cast on the inside of the cup makes the three-dimensionality convincing.

And now, the edge of the shelf/table at (6).  Notice that there is a progression of three spaces, from left to right, from short to longer to very long, each indicated with different pencil marks.  This is an invention of the student/artist, not a reproduction of the original 18th century still life. It’s ingenious because it creates movement, like a crescendo in music.  Soft, louder, loudest.  Even though it indicates a plain ol’  table top, a restful horizontal line, it’s not static.  Pure invention! This can happen in beginning students, without suggestions from the instructor.  To me, the instructor, this is deeply moving because it means the student was so absorbed in the drawing process that this effect emerged intuitively—out of intense involvement in the process.

More to come: the ellipse, the concept “still life,” markmaking, positive & negative space, movement in composition, the concepts perfection and not so, incomplete, rhythm…

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/the-ellipse-is-in-your-hand/

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

http://www.katherinehilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

20190905_123041.jpg

Students gasped when this drawing was turned around, to be seen right-side-up.

It was drawn up-side-down, remember. Btw,  No student cheated by turning the drawing right-side-up before it was finished.

When you’re drawing up-side-down, you enter a state of –hello!—pure seeing.  Sounds corny, but the name of this class is simply Drawing as Seeing.  It’s thrilling!

Notice how the sliver of reflected light on the face’s shadow side makes the drawing three-dimensional. So subtle, so powerful.

The time allotted for this assignment was a little over an hour.

Drawing by Shweta.

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/facing-the-portrait-with-henry-raeburn-2/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/facing-the-portrait-with-henry-raeburn-1/

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

www.katherinehilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

15Jan2a
In whatever drawing you’re working on, try darkening the outline (=contour) of the shapes arbitrarily. If it’s a figure, darken the outline of the forearm. See how that affects your perception 15Jan2bof depth. Or press your pencil down harder when you’re outlining one side of the face. Immerse yourself in how this feels.
In the drawing shown above, the artist indicates the upper arm with a heavy line, while the forearm is drawn faintly. We immediately get the sense that the upper arm is in shadow and the forearm catches the light. She achieves this effect without classical anatomical drawing, using gradations of shadow and reflected light. But you can see that her coarse use of lines is actually based on an understanding of anatomy.
Drawing by Gaby Edgerton, aquarellable pencil on gloss paper, 17”x11”
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
http://facefame.wordpress.com
http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com
http://www.katherinehilden.com
http://www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

PicassoNudeDrapery
Drapery? Where? You mean those whitish-bluish triangles and trapezoids?
Picasso was twenty-six when he painted this. By the time he was fourteen, he had mastered the skill to create the illusion of drapery or any other illusion he might have felt like creating. There was big money in illusions in the 1890’s. But not for Picasso. With Picasso the illusion-achievements of the Renaissance come to an end. And that means, for one thing, drapery is dead. Finished.
The question is, do you have to master the Renaissance skills of drapery, anatomy and perspective to be an artist? The answer is “no,” but it’s an uncomfortable no. I’m uncomfortable about dismissing the value of drapery drawing/painting for two reasons. One is in the looking: drapery in an image draws the viewer in and focuses the mind like a labyrinth; more on this in the next post. The second reason is in the doing and for similar reasons: drawing drapery develops visual concentration since you are always drawing from the image in your mind; and it focuses the mind, resulting in the kind of high that comes from a)intense concentration on a limited problem and b) repetition of minutiae. This is drawing for the sheer pleasure of drawing, meaning the “high” you get from moving that pencil.

Drapery
This is my pencil drawing of some drapery I set up for a demo in drawing class last week. Students watched over DraperyGreenDemomy shoulders and asked questions. As I was drawing I explained the procedure. This 17”x11” page took about an hour. Without my talking, I estimate it would have taken less than a half hour. It looks so easy and the principles of light-shadow-reflected light are a piece o’cake.
But the doing takes practice. But, hey, it’s not like there’s ever nothing to draw. Look around you. Throw your coat over a chair, leave the dish towel on the kitchen counter, don’t make your bed—drapery drapery everywhere….
In “Outliers” Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the need and result of practice. He has made the 10,000 hour rule famous: to get good at anything takes 10 years or 10,000 hours of practice. That comes to 3 hours a day.

130207DilbertHoursPractice
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
http://facefame.wordpress.com
http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com
http://www.katherinehilden.com
http://www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

ReflectedLightCanYes, why is that? (Continued from previous post.)
The drawing of the cylinder in the class demo was about 2” high. Everybody stood around and watched how I did it and listened to the straight-forward explanation of how this works. It took 2-3 minutes. So quick, so easy. Students love the effect created by the Reflected Light. They understand how the effect is IMG_3988created. Then they set out to draw a still life that’s full of curved shapes that clearly invite practicing the shading illusion that involves reflected light—bowls, pears, drapery—and, look, IMG_3989they don’t bother with reflected light.
Something else happens in their drawings.
Why is that? I don’t know, but it’s fascinating to me. And the drawings they produce are fascinating. These are all interesting drawings and so IMG_3991MODERN! The markmaking in one reminds me of Cézanne. Another student draws as loosely as Matisse. The drawing with the suitcase hinge, playing on the opposition between line and surface, looks like a modern graphic.
The charcoal pencil drawing, below, shows that the IMG_3986artist certainly has the dexterity to play the
Reflected Light trick, but she chooses not to. She skips the hard won technique that reigned supreme for four-hundred years in Western Art and plunks herself down in the art-deco 1920’s, Leger1922right next to Leger. And behold, the pears look like pears and the bowl curves as you expect it to curve.
In a few weeks I’ll do the Reflected Light demo again. There will be oohs and aahs and eye-rolling admiration for Caravaggio. And then what? I won’t be surprised when I stroll through the classroom-studio and see drawings that honor Cézanne, Matisse and Leger. Dyed in the wool moderns, all. How did this happen? Don’t know. But it’s fascinating.

(Fernand Leger, 1881-1955)
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
http://facefame.wordpress.com
http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com
http://www.katherinehilden.com
http://www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

cvggo_dorm
By the middle of the 16th century the Protestant reformers were raging against Catholic dogma and inspiring their followers to ransack old churches, destroying stained glass windows, murals, paintings, statues, tapestries and candelabras. The Catholic hierarchy fought back and stood its ground. The battle of the Counter Reformation was so serious that the pope convened his cardinals intermittently for about twenty years. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) hammered out numerous dogmatic formulations and, interestingly for us, enlisted the Caravaggio-Crucifixion_of_Peter1arts in the fight. They declared that art should illustrate the dogmas and saints of the Catholic faith to the common people in an emotionally intense way.
The cardinals became very specific about how this end was to be achieved. They decreed that religious images were to be clear and dramatic, bodies were to be rendered to appear three-dimensional, physically real, emotionally intense, with vivid color and contrasts between light pauland dark–so as to draw the viewer emotionally into the scene and close to the biblical character being depicted. Appropriate and approved themes were: grandiose visions, ecstasies and conversions, martyrdom and death, intense light, and intense psychological moments.
Since, at the time, the pope and the clergy were the major commissioners of paintings, sculptures and other decorative objects, artists perfected their skills to conform to the church’s taste in art. The artists who opposed the church’s dictates were called the Mannerists, because they worked in the manner of the late Michelangelo, who as he matured (he died in 1564) became a skeptic about the faith he had been raised in. The Council of Trent’s decrees directly opposed the highly individual styles of the Mannerists.
What about Caravaggio? Caravaggio shared the church’s taste for high drama. Death, torture and falling off your horse were subjects he related to personally. To make these scenes emotional he painted the bodies (so much flesh!) and the drapery (so much drapery!) very convincingly, very three-dimensionally.
Well, now, class, how did he achieve these effects?
Everybody in unison: reflected light!
Verrry good. Everybody gets a gold star.

ReflectedLight
I do this demo on how to make a curved surface look convincingly three-dimensional , every term. People look over my shoulder as they unanimously pick out the cylinder that looks good and the one that is drawn wrong. Somebody brings up Caravaggio. Everybody loves Caravaggio, so amazing, and everybody knows that he was a master at reflected light and that reflected light is what did the trick for him.
Below, a passage from “The Death of the Virgin,” showing rims of reflected light, without which the shapes would look flat.

The-Death-of-the-Virgin-(detail)-1605-06Analysis
Now, you would think that all these Caravaggio-lovers would go home and practice drawing round objects, say an egg, a pear or an apple on their kitchen counter, using the reflected light trick. You would be wrong. Why is that?! Why do art students love the illusion created by Reflected Light, but don’t practice how to achieve it?!
(Btw, lest you think Caravaggio was a humble and obedient genuflector, he used a drowned prostitute as a model for the Madonna in this painting. Artists tend to be complicated characters.)
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1571-1610
All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
http://facefame.wordpress.com
http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com
http://www.katherinehilden.com
http://www.khilden.com

Read Full Post »

13OrangePeals

Scatter the peels of five oranges on a board. Draw.

Not so fast.

The exercise was set up with the instruction to draw each wedge convincingly with shadows and reflected light and at the same time to connect all the wedges so that they would read as a unit.  Notice, also, that there’s a gap in the line-up, suggesting a golden section.  None of this is easy to execute.

But it looks simple and inviting.  And oranges in January…what could be more pleasant!

13OrangePealsMaggy

13OrangePealsGaby

13OrangePealsAle13OrangePealsLinne

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

www.khilden.com 

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

Drapery got interesting about the same time that flesh got interesting.  To paint, that is.  Probably around the middle of the 15th century, when oil painting was invented.  Jan Van Eyck is often credited with this invention, but there’s no proof.  Anyway, oil painting, with its slow drying time, made blending and shading in infinite nuances possible.  Painting flesh and drapery is all about nuances, creating the illusion of roundness with infinite variety.

When I plan on giving a demo on drawing drapery, I bring in some art books to illustrate where we come from (#1 in the class photo):  drapery as rendered in byzantine art, then in 12th century, and then in the 16th and 17th century when drapery came into its own.  In Caravaggio (d.1610)  and Van Dyck  (d.1641) you can see that drapery was a joy to paint and that it serves an important expressive function.  In this Caravaggio tableau, the red drapery at the top is pure invention, ridiculous in a way, if you’re literal minded, but he clearly uses it to add vitality to the dreary scene.

The demo is done on the brown paper (#2) with thick charcoal to illustrate how light behaves on a round object.  Then I sit next to individual students and draw along with them, addressing their particular questions and stumbling blocks. One student went from I-don’t-get-it to wow! (Heather’s is the first of the student drawings shown below.)

The still life, a humble pile of white cloth and some drab pottery (#3), inspires the students and challenges them to create a lively illusion of billowing forms.

(Click images for enlargements.)————————————————————————–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

The overall impression of this drawing is one of delicacy but at the same time the pencil marks are bold and clear.  There’s nothing blended or indecisive; at the same time the drawing is incomplete.  While the shapes are boldly drawn with a classical respect for light (notice the reflected light where the large pot meets the drapery underneath), the dominant feeling is romantic because of the incompletion. These dichotomies create a tension and puzzlement that engage the viewer.

This is the second of seven drawings from that still life produced in one class.  In future posts (soon) I’ll talk about the physical set up and the suggestions I made to the students at the beginning of the class.

For “Romantic”  see posts February 21, 2011 and April 22, 2011.

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 »

Older Posts »