Can you handle two art posts in a row? I've been accumulating some life drawings that reflect good days and bad days - for how I'm feeling during class, as well as how I feel the drawings transfer from my head to the paper. Also, the beginning of class is not as exciting to see, as we focus on the basics like what I posted before with the straight lines and contour lines. From there we moved on to cross-contour lines, which are important to have in your head when you're drawing (whether it be gestures or long poses with shading) - it's the idea of whatever you're putting down on paper as being 3D, and having that feeling of volume and depth. I still struggle with that because I like to see lines - perhaps its the animation side of me; perhaps it's just the lack of training. At least I'm aware of it and trying to work on it! Cross-contour isn't pretty to look at as a finished product, but it does help to describe the form.
Continuing along the line of thinking in 3D and volume, we had a day without a model where we had to take a pose from a previous drawing and make it into one simplified into shapes (like those art mannequins you see). This was more challenging than you might think, just to understand how the shapes work together and "exist" under those lines and details you see on a live person. We also had to make up our own light source for the cross-hatching on these. That's an exercise we should be able to do whenever, and in fact sometimes have to do even with the live model, as what we see in reality doesn't always help to describe the form - in fact, sometimes it can kill it (like odd cast shadows that just look horrible if you were to transfer them the way you see them). We're constantly reminded that we're not creating photographs; we have the difficult job of making someone believe that these flat lines and shapes are really a 3D person.
Shading is the next step, and as I mentioned in a previous post, it's still very challenging to me. I'm still figuring out my technique with the compressed charcoal (the initial sketch is done in vine charcoal which I'm very comfortable with, is very responsive to the touch, but also comes back up off the page very easily, which is not good when you're shading). Compressed charcoal comes in long rectangles and round sticks, so I'm experimenting with both to see what I like better. I'm also trying to incorporate blending that charcoal as I go along, instead of waiting till the end (therefore usually not getting to that point). I like the result of the blending, but it definitely is slower than just getting the values down. But everyone has to find their own technique that works for them. Time will always be my enemy with this; I've gotten quicker at drawing, but shading I like to take my time with.
I still love gesture drawings, and we've been doing a lot of them, which is great. My animation teacher is trying to put together a drawing class for cartooning/animation, where there would never be any long poses - just gesture drawings. As much as I would enjoy that, I do enjoy taking my time with a long pose. I'm trying to keep the energy of the gestures, though - there are a few that stand out that I actually like. It's fun doing a bunch on one page and looking back through them to see what really stands out as successful in capturing the pose. It's also helpful when you have models that give you dynamic poses to work from! I don't worry about the ratio of mainly bleh drawings to a few glimmers. That's how I know I'm making progress, and that's the whole point of the gestures - they're short and force you to make decisions. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Often he'll specify not to concentrate on how it looks, but on getting the framework right. Framework varies depending on the pose and what we're concentrating on, but you'll see in most of mine the shoulder line, the hip line, and the spine; then sometimes lines for the legs; if it's a side pose I'll put in an oval for the torso and one for the pelvis (and always the spine/center line if there is one to be seen). In other words, start with a stick figure that's angled correctly and then flesh it out from there. (Side note: I've discovered that I love the jawline when the head is tilted up - like the gesture pose in the middle where she's kneeling.)
And today we focused on legs and feet with all shorter poses (the longest was 10 minutes), which are more difficult than one might think - considering we look at them everyday! They're very important to showing weight as well as direction, even if they're very basic. They can also be very graceful and have interesting lines - if you can make that work! It's a challenge, but interesting. He also wanted us to work on fore-shortened poses, concentrating on contour lines to show volume. I found myself second-guessing my lines a lot today (notice how many lines I erased on these drawings? More than normal - especially this contour line drawing with her spine. That's usually the easy part!). I'm not sure if it's because it was Monday and I was sleepy, or what. I'm just glad that I still got something out of the class and didn't walk away frustrated - that happened a lot spring semester in figure drawing.
I can't believe we're almost at midterms. I look forward to the progress I make in the rest of the class, but I will be sad when it's over. There is just something so captivating and invigorating about drawing the human figure. My teacher mentioned in painting class that we may have a live model for the last few weeks of class. Seeing as how the figure painting class is only offered every 2 years, that would be fantastic to experience.
Hope you guys enjoy the drawings. I know it's a big update, but I've been busy!