I think hands are so important in figure drawing. At times more important for the expression than faces. Yet when drawing a hand of a model I am always guessing, have no idea what’s on the other – invisible – side. This book teaches how construct a hand, in any position. I am thrilled to know, not guess or suppose, where to attach a hand to a forearm, how to position fingers, how to curve them. Amazing how everything has a logical geometric explanation to it – the fundamentals. Burne Hogarth is a genius.
I have more hands drawn by now, but am too lazy to do more scanning. I will draw more still, am not done by any means. These are basic forms, measures and construction blocks. Later in the book he is getting into stresses, actions, foreshortening, communications, gesture and behavior. Fascinating. I have my work cut out for me.
Mephistopheles. Actually just a guy I know from my gym.
There is a lot of art activity on this front, but I am not sure any of the results are worth posting. I have two portraits in the works, one in graphite and one in watercolor. The graphite may be finished soon… ish… and may get to be posted then. The watercolor one is in early stages, and it is too soon to tell whether anything worthwhile will come out of this.
I have gone to a life-drawing session again and am still wondering if I should post my charcoal attempts. I don’t particularly like them although the model was absolutely great. I am also studying anatomy, specifically drawing/constructing hands working from Burne Hogarth’s book Drawing Dynamic Hands.
To keep up with the blog amidst all this activity here are two sketches from Metropolis café which is next to my gym. There’s wonderful people watching in Metropolis, and I indulge in it while trying to catch my breath after working out or waiting for my daughter.
Just a few days before the time Leslie created her Fabulous Faceless Figures I did my own. Independent of her. Great minds and all that… Same wavelength… I then proceeded to completely forget about them. Today I was packing my sketchbooks to go home and found them. One is Micron pen, the other mechanical pencil, both sketched from small statues my mother has on her sideboard. There seems to be something profound in the absence of face.
Our favorite coffeeshop here in the sleepy town of Netanya is called cleverly The Milky Way, Shvil Ha-Halav in Hebrew. They serve beautiful cappuchino and enourmously sized salads. Now they are also famous for being the first cafe where I braved sketching patrons. The man in a hat is a regular, I noted him a while ago, but didn’t sketch because I didn’t have a good view until this one. The woman in red had interesting multiple chins as I looked at them in profile. Between eating and talking she kept repositioning them making my work more difficult. I generalized the best I could. The last guy had a very busy and no nonsense air about him, he chatted briskly with his companion, then got up and quickly left while I had my head down to my sketchbook for a moment, I didn’t even see him going. This is all I had time to do while he was sitting there.
In the city where trouble is always just a blink away military security is visibly present. Leaving Zion mountain in the Old City we ran into this group of security patrol. Boys and a girl with large automatic weapons were walking in the direction of King David’s Tomb. This is what normal life looks like here. I took some pictures. One day there will be peace. This day hasn’t come yet.
Finally some sketches from Israel. It was hard to find an opportunity to upload and post sketches, but at last here are two. Just simple pencil studies of local folklore. Hopefully now that I got access to a computer, figured out how to scan images and downloaded GIMP to process them more sketches will come soon.
For being alive is now complete in watercolor. I am somewhat disappointed with the end result – I did not succeed in creating a sense of aliveness to the extent I imagined and planned. But I learned a lot in the process, so I am calling it a study. It is done in limited palette (pyrrol red, red oxide, ultramarine, cobalt blue, new gamboge and sepia). During a critique session in class I realized that my composition crop is working against the image, my background is not strong enough to bring forth my idea, and skin colors lost their variety of blues and violets somewhere in the process. On a positive side I am pleased with the 3D effect I was able to achieve, her expression and the lines of her body.
This week was both very exciting and very frustrating at the same time – I attempted drawing a life figure. Both drawings are long pose, one hour each. Both model were so beautiful, but I can’t say the same about my drawings – that’s the frustrating part. These are done in two separate locations, the first – in my class where the teacher invited a model for us to try in our chosen media, and the second – in Tojo Gallery.
The first drawing didn’t go well for me at all, body parts wouldn’t come coherently together in short poses. In a long pose due to my sheer determination the drawing resembles a human form. I erased the head 5 times… This was probably the most difficult undertaking in my entire (short) art life.
I realized that I cannot allow myself to give up just because it was so difficult. Just the opposite: because it was so difficult I had to do it again. I found drop-in figure drawing sessions here in Chicago and went there. It was just the same difficult, the short poses (1 min, 5 min) are a killer – it takes me just about that long to decide where to start. I did better with 10 and 15 min poses. The long one was going OK until I peeked at other easels during a break, my clumsy attempt was the worst of them. The difficult part was to push this thought out of my head and continue. I know I will become better if I persist, perhaps not brilliant, but at least proficient.
An almost first attempt at figure. After I sketched about a dozen marble statues in the Art Institute I felt brave enough to try for a finished figure drawing. This is a graphite study for a painting. I am still working on a painting, and if it will come out decent I will post it here.
A couple of words about the title. “For being alive” is a half a line from an English translation of a Russian poem by Osip Mandelstam. The poem was written in 1909.
For my guests who read Russian, here is the first stanza:
Дано мне тело – что мне делать с ним,
Таким единым и таким моим?
За радость тихую дышать и жить
Кого, скажите, мне благодарить?
And a translation by A. S. Kline:
What shall I do with this body they gave me
so much my own, so intimate with me?
For being alive, for the joy of calm breath,
tell me, who should I bless?
This is not a bad translation, better than many I come across while trying to bring my husband to the magic of Russian poetry. The mood and quiet intimacy of the original poem was nicely preserved. Unfortunately the music and the cadence of Mandelstam’s wordsmithing are lost in translation, as is the case with too many poems of that period. I guess there is no helping that.