Posts Tagged ‘ class ’

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.

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The Finished Degas Piece

Over about four sessions, I finally finished my pencil on paper reproduction of Edgar Degas’ Girl Combing Her Hair. This is a piece Degas worked and reproduced many times. Here is the image I was working from on the easel with my own version:

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A little about the process and the image:

While working on this piece, there were two mistakes I made early on with my sketch that I had to contend with. I did what I could to solve problems as I could while working on the piece.

First, since I had only intended to make this a figure/compositional study on a day our still model was not able to attend the class, I started the sketch on a large sheet of low-quality paper. I had intended to use this as an in-class demonstration for my students, so the choice I made for paper was something I would end up contending with later, since a very smooth and thin paper will hold pencil much differently. (I advise all young artists to use good paper as often as they can afford and generally follow my own advice, using inexpensive papers only for my practice sketches and studies.)

The second mistake I made with this sketch was in making the initial lines of my sketch. Overall, I made the body much too large, and I essentially ran out of room for the left arm. By the time I had realized this I had gotten a bit far into the drawing, having already added a great deal of detail. I choose to attempt to bring the arm forward as I was drawing it, as though pointed more in front of the model to make the arm fore-shortened enough to still fit on the paper. Even after that, the result was less than satisfactory, and at one point I slightly shortened the right arm to make the mistake less obvious.

So, that speaks, obviously, to why pre-planning remains so vital to getting an image right –especially when reproducing another piece. If I had been more careful, or looked more carefully as I placed the outside lines in my sketch, I would have been able to place all of the image easily withing the space it was intended for.

Something to think about when you are working on a piece. Perhaps when you think your initial sketch is done, pause, take a break, and come back to view the initial sketch. Make sure that you have proportioned and placed all your lines correctly before you begin shading and adding detail. (While drawing, I was walking around a classroom, interacting with my students and doing the business of teaching, –not that this necessarily forgives me).

Obviously, this is a very challenging pose, no wonder Degas returned to it again and again, the same pose, and even this pose using other figure models. If you don’t get it right, do it again.

Nonetheless, I was pretty pleased with the end result. I’ll add a couple more pictures at the end, when I have the light to take them without the glare from a flash. Until then here’s a shot of the detail:

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The lesson –sort of within a lesson– if you try to create you will make mistakes. You’ll make mistakes whether you are starting, or advancing or have been working in a medium for years. Relax, it’s your art. It probably won’t be perfect. You will realize you have made an error, you may spend hours trying to correct it and still be unhappy with the result. Don’t be afraid of your mistakes or toss your imperfect works away. Instead, look at what happened and analyze the problem. You can probably learn more from those works that are imperfect than you can from others that simply have problems that escape your notice or the notice of people you seek feedback from.

After you are finished, do it again. Make that mistake ten times, or until you don’t. Happy arting.

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