Posts Tagged ‘ art instruction ’

Quick Lessons: Get Some Perspective!!!

One of my current students has expressed an interest in architectural drawing. I am probably going to be bringing several source images to class for architectural studies. One thing I have not been shy about in my career as an art teacher, is directly addressing where I find gaps or a weakness in my own knowledge of my craft. I am primarily a figure/portrait and color guy, so this morning I busied myself finding, and then doing, a basic study in perspective. While my result today is by no means flawless, I did find the work relatively natural, and I remember more than I think I do. It’s been years since I’ve done many exercises in perspective, even if in my work it gets applied frequently.

The simplest exercise is multiple-point perspective is a cube. I found this image on a web-forum for game design, and you can see the image I used here.

I find it helpful with these studies to give yourself space to work. The largest paper I have readily at the moment is 11″ x 14,” so to create my horizon line, I worked with two pieces of paper taped together.

The original image is here (on the forum, scroll down) is here:   http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=16420.0

My study is here:

Study, cubes, exercise in perspective

Study, cubes, exercise in perspective

Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to add to this in coming days. If you do your own study, you can share your results in the comments. As this page gets rolling we’ll be taking on perspective studies of more complex architectural drawing and buildings. If you line a series of cubes up, larger and smaller, all meeting at 2 points relatively close on the horizon, you start to get what looks like a city street, that may be one of the places I choose to go in the coming class. Space them at far ends of the horizon, like in the cube exercise, that’s the basis for blue-printing a structure. Try it, see how yours comes out.

Wednesdays and Thursday afternoons I usually take my son to one of Albany’s public libraries. Today, I took off the shelf a book quite familiar to me (I’m sure I have checked it out multiple times by now) “Albany: The and Now” by local historian and author Don Rittner.

I have something of a fondness for art deco commercial buildings and design. The image I am using here was formerly the 1928 facade of the South East Corner of State Street and Pearl Street –then a restaurant and jewelry store. There currently sits in that corner a high-rise tower which is presently occupied by an M&T Bank on the ground floor.

Here is a 2-point perspective rendering of the 1928 building:

architectural study, Pearl Street and State Street Albany, from the book, Albany, by Don Rittner, used with permission.

architectural study, Pearl Street and State Street Albany, reproduced from the book, Albany, by Don Rittner, used with permission.

I have alternatively heard small-scale art-deco commercial buildings of similar style called “Moderne,” so that term may be more appropriate, but there does seem to be areas of overlap within the two design schools. This structure also is much larger than most examples I have heard described that way apparently without a great deal of the the decorative chrome heavily associated with the style. (An example is the former White Tower building on Central Avenue I have described in the commissions blog).

In coming days I will hopefully be adding a few more examples of particular buildings, and perhaps moving into street scenes.
Happy sketching.

Cultivating the Sketching Habit (IV): Figure Studies & Loosening up

Not everybody has access to a subject for figure study. Figure study is one of those bedrock artistic practices you should always revisit. You simply are never too experienced. You’ll always need to keep the skill sharp –with practice.

I managed –somehow– to not only land a musical collaborator living with me. But also an experienced alternative and plus-size model. (Contact and other info: http://www.modelmayhem.com/325517). Of course I jumped at the chance when she agreed to a few poses for me to use in sketching. She’s always a lovely subject.

This morning I pulled up the photo files I had taken, and began sketching. (Common wisdom is that you shouldn’t draw from photos, I’ve always done so. I take a lot of photos with a couple cameras I own, so it keeps me in subject matter that interests me. I have had many people tell me it’s not the same, but photos from a good camera are convenient and can be available whenever you get the urge to practice).

The first sketch was in pencil. It feels less than perfect, but adequate…

The first image:

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Muse, figure study, pencil on paper

Muse’s pose (she was posed lying on the bed, gazing up at the camera) is really lovely, and there’s a lot of challenges in her poses –foreshortening the legs and abdomen. The harder part was capturing her really quizzical facial expression. I felt I pulled it off in this little sketch.

However, the next sketch I botched. I was starting to get frustrated and getting ready to put pencils down until another day. One thing that helps when a subject is challenging me for whatever reason is to loosen up.

I frequently warned my students about the dangers of becoming to tight and getting stuck just getting details right. When I find myself doing this I back off and do simpler line and gesture drawings. I don’t need to focus heavily on details, and turn my attention to proportion, gesture, and the pose. Get the pose right first, and do it over and over. So, that’s precisely what I did.

Some of the sketches were rather abstracted, others are slightly more detailed. All of them were done in a few minutes a piece, the way one would do in a 5 minute life drawing pose. There’s something I like in pretty much all of them.

Changing my focused work. I turned my attention to some problem areas, and worked them over and over:

working on problem areas, charcoal on paper

working on problem areas, charcoal on paper

In the end, I made several more simplified sketches I was happy with. More sketches to come as I work on them.

figure study, Muse, charcoal on paper

figure study, Muse, charcoal on paper

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Muse, figure studies, charcoal on paper.

It took a while to loosen up my sketching until I was seeing results I was happy with, but it got there. So, snatching a small victory out of an earlier attitude that was pretty defeated.

[update, 9/13]

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female figure, study, upper body

I secured a commission with a client that has requested life drawing/portraiture, in charcoal on paper. So, pretty fortuitous I published this blog less than a month ago. Not to beat a dead horse, but when I spoke in the original post about bed-rock artistic practices, and keeping your skills sharp, I was very serious. The opportunity to do this commission came at a good time, as my teaching of the class is on hold at the moment.

The following images include both male and female figures, in charcoal on paper.

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Male figure, charcoal on paper

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female figure, charcoal on paper

At one point I focused on a a face (my partners).

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study, face.

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figure study, charcoal

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Male figure, charcoal on paper

This Week (give or take) in the Class.

I’m going to try to break up the posts to progress every couple weeks. I’m still waiting to iron out the issues surrounding HIPPA (confidentiality) and showing student work (many students are doing fine work in the class). Until then, I will continue posting in class demonstrations. If you’re seeing this post the first time, my class is the blind leading the blind. I have struggled with a mental illness for decades. I’m celebrating my thirty-sixth birthday in a couple days. (August 14th) I am happy to be alive. I am happy to be teaching students in an inpatient psychiatric hospital that art can be a way to heal yourself, to grow personally, and to keep yourself well and out of hospitals.

The pictures are what I draw as I am teaching my students.


In the past week,(6/29-7/7) I’ve continued to focus on the use of color. Here are some more of the in-class demonstrations. I have based my lessons on a book I have borrowed from the library, “Understanding Color” by Marcia Moses. I’ve been using a couple of images by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch as out in-class examples, because Munch’s use of color is so striking of an example of the use of a limited palette.

Continuing the class discussion on color theory. I have been making art my whole life, and I’m picking up what I might of missed in my informal education, from what I take out at the library. My degree is not in art, so I am learning as my students learn.

We were doing split complimentary color schemes this week (complimentary pairs, pus an adjacent color on the color wheel).

My in-class demonstrations:

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Vincent Van Gogh, “Peach Tree in Bloom” reproduction. OIl pastel on paper.

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Color study. I gave my student the prompt: “Locals say, if you go you will still find her there waiting” Oil pastel on paper.

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Oil Pastel on paper, reproduction of one of my photographs, looking south from the Rennselaer train station.

Before our discussion of color, I did a simple exercise I feel is helpful for training the eye. I began the week by bringing in a bag of dried leaves from my yard. I had intended to encourage students to develop their eye for detail. This was an exercise I found useful, early on, as I was developing my own abilities:

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Leaf, charcoal on paper.

Shifting the discussion to color, I started with a simple geometric abstract, and encouraged students to use a limited palette in their own drawing.

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Abstract, oil pastel on paper. Students were encourage to use a limited palette. My example is dominated by the complimentary colors blue and orange, and green.

The next two examples are explorations/reproductions of Munch’s work. His general color palette and strong use of color worked well to illustrate aspects of color theory for my students.

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Oil Pastel on paper, Based on Edvard Munch’s “White Night.”

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Oil pastel on paper, based on Edvard Munch’s mural at the University at Aula, “The Sun.”

Over the past week, the class focused (mostly) on using perspective. In most of the classes over the past couple weeks I have also been teaching students to mix color and have been teaching the to work in water color.

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From pictures I took as an adolescent at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA. Water color on paper.

(Explanation of caption under the painted image: I wanted students to think of their lives before they were ill, and the kind of person they were –or might be, if they recovered from their mental illness. I had brought in photos I took of the Grand Canyon when I was an adolescent, before I was diagnosed and before I knew I had a mental illness. I had all the students caption their image with something about themselves. My caption reads “before I was ill, I was creative and adventurous.”)

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Barn, water color on paper. From the book “The Welsh Hills of Waukeska County” by Pat Byrne

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Charcoal and Water-color on paper, reproduction of Paul Klee’s “The Conquerer”.

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Tree-lined path/road. Based on a photo from the Welsh Hills (Byrne) again).

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Original image, water color on paper. Based on the house where I currently rent, Albany, NY. Perspective lesson

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Charcoal on paper, study/review of face and facial features. My students ask that I draw and older man.

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Perspective study, based on an image by Gustave Caillebotte, (“Paris, a Rainy Day”).

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Figure study, “Officer in Riot Gear” oil pastel and charcoal on paper.

The Class

For those that didn’t know, I have spent the last several weeks teaching an art class within the Capital District Psychiatric Center. My goal is to get funding to expand a program that makes fine art classes a part of mental health treatment both inside and outside the hospital in the city I live in: Albany, NY.

Again for those who didn’t know: this is a goal for me, because I know when I was inpatient in CDPC, art groups were important to me as a way to rebuild my life in the hard times I was having. The art groups were something I looked forward to each day when I was inpatient. As  teacher, I want to use art to help troubled people do what I did: get out of the hospital and live better lives outside of the mental health system. Mentally ill people can live full lives, hold jobs, and stay well. We can and do recover. I feel like art can help mentally ill people do that, and I am not alone in that belief.

In that spirit, I’d like to show some of the in-class demonstrations I have done. These are sketches and things I did during the class, demonstrating for my students, art techniques and skills.

It’s my hope that my students not only develop their own skill, but find ways to make art a part of thier lives once they are back living in the community –professionally, or non-professionally.

Art is important. I know from looking around my classroom, art is important to helping struggling people heal.

Some images:

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Bulletin board of my student’s work

 

[update] 5/21

This past week the class has been working with mannikins (croquis) I was able to purchase with the grant money I received. The class has really latched on to drawing with croquis. This past week, I have been encourage students to pose the croquis and talk about an incident in their lives. The class has a two-fold purpose of not only teaching art, but as an informal part of the students therapy and recover from significant mental illness (all students are currently admitted on an in-patient basis). There are two images from this (my in-class demonstrations):

croquis/figure study charcoal sketch on paper

croquis/figure study charcoal sketch on paper

 

The first sketch: a student described a family member who had overcome addiction.

 

Croquis/figure study charcoal on paper

Croquis/figure study charcoal on paper

 

The pose is meant to describe a student’s experience during a recent depressive episode.

 

[update]

Adding some new works, older sketches and works are towards the bottom of the post.

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Acrylic on paper, student prompt was to represent what “trouble” meant to them, based on a podcast from “This Modern Life”. Related to a San Francisco cafe whose proprietor struggles with Schizo-effective disorder.

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Fayette Michigan, abandoned town and now a historical site. Watercolor on paper.

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Lake Michigan, near Escanaba, Michigan. Watercolor on paper.

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Sketch, charcoal on paper. Portraits.

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Oil Pastel on paper. Prompt for this was encouraging students to depict “Safe Spaces”

[…]

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Sketching architecture, reproduction of Van Gogh’s House at Arles.

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Architectural study, perspective example. In this case a very quick study of the corner of Clinton and N. Pearl St. In-class example.

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Study, landscape, another Van Gogh reproduction.

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Study of Paul Klee’s “The Red Balloon,” from a lesson on using color and abstraction/ non-representational drawing.

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Architectural study, from the book “Hudson Valley Ruins.”

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Portrait, study. From a lesson about composition and placement of facial features.

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Studies: faces and facial features.

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Study, portraiture, faces and facial features.

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Placement of facial features and composition.

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Manet’s work “The Old Musician” has been a recurrent theme in my sketching. In this case, the “dread-locked cow-girl” is based off a figure in the Manet piece, and swaps the gender of a figure from Manet’s work.

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Study, dog

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Study, infant.

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Study, tree trunk.

First, a figure study. Study of a child playing, including an illustrated armature (left). In class demonstration.

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Reproduction, Paul Cezanne. Working on landscapes, explanation of horizon line. Oil pastel on paper.

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