I’ve started to see some rewards for my focus on charcoal drawing lately; I have figured out what my tools are and how to manipulate them to achieve a desired effect (more on those tools in a later post). And while I am not entirely happy with my ability to nail a likeness on every portrait, I am satisfied that I can work a drawing past a failure point (where I would have given up in the past) and on to a successful piece. When I am drawing someone I know, a likeness is preferred but when I’m simply using a photo or photos as a starting point and structural guide, I’m not interested in a likeness.
This weekend I took on the challenge of drawing from an old photo of a friend when she was a toddler.
I am very satisfied with the drawing itself but when you directly compare the two, it’s clear what needs to change.
Her eyes are too far apart and the shapes are not quite right. Her nose is too large. Her lips are not quite as pursed. The shape of her head is slightly off at the top… I could go on. I may decide to rework the piece and I may not… I don’t want to lose the lovely marks and textures of the drawing. The question is, will I be satisfied in the long run if I don’t rework her?
What’s interesting is that I’ve never done this kind of direct comparison as a part of the drawing process and perhaps it’s what I should be doing. At least until I get better at finding a likeness… much like how I’ve practiced to the point of understanding the tools, perhaps this is just another tool to use to find what I want to find.
I recently watched a documentary which has stayed with me and for the reasons I talk about below, I hope will stay with me for a very long time.
Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable evoked (or perhaps “invoked” is a better word, in this case) very strong emotions as I watched piece upon piece of stunningly beautiful artistry rise from the sea. Up until the very end of the story, I was sucked entirely in to the romantic notion that humanity was capable of such incredible beauty and emotion – captured in such stunning pieces of art and the passion it would take to create and transport such a collection.
And then the end of the documentary arrived and I was stunned that I could have been so naive.
And yet what stays with me and makes me sad, are the expressions of emotion on the faces and in the gestures of some of those sculptures. That’s what I respond to and was so awed by on the screen – it’s what I strive for in my own work. And now that I’ve seen that movie, I know that I have been too timid; too afraid to put real emotion in my work; afraid that people will not be pleased by my work (will not want to BUY it!) when what I really want is for people to respond the way I responded to the Damien Hurst artwork and story – with awe and strong emotion. If it doesn’t suit their life or interior decoration – be damned.
I need to make the work I want to make, especially given that I have chosen NOT to live my life as a full-time artist because I’m not cut out for that type of struggle, I damn well better make the art I’ve sacrificed that dream for!
What am I doing creating work which doesn’t strive to effect the human experience?! It is time for me to get to real work.
While the holidays were pretty full of family travel and social highlights, I did manage to get a couple days in the studio to continue my drawing work. I had some fun with a portrait of my husband (below) and a couple attempts at life drawing from photographs which were not at all successful – but good practice! Always!
I’m not one for making resolutions for a new year. I prefer to think about what I’d like the year to contain so I can focus on that over other things, rather than make hard deadlines. Deadlines are for work. With that in mind, I want to attend more life drawing sessions at UVic, since I’m in such close walking distance and because I want to be better at creating consistently successful life drawings. Currently it’s hit and miss. Much like the way I’ve focused on my studio drawing and am having more and more success at completing pieces I am happy with. I feel that I have a deeper understanding of the materials and am able to use them to the effect I want. And now I’d like to have that with life drawing.
An inspiration for that is a beautiful life drawing which Andrew bought me for my birthday. It’s by artist Sergio Lopez . Isn’t she beautiful?!