Wednesday, September 30, 2009


"I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else." - Pablo Picasso

A follow-up to the previous post on compositional exercises - for the first portion of that class I had us do the ol' "Famous Artist" lesson with arranging just four simple elements each. In 15 minutes they had to experiment using four different thumbnailed panels to rough out a scene containing a lake, mountain, rock and sailboat. After selecting the most effective variation on this theme they then drew up a full-sized one on newsprint using charcoal. Then we gathered around to compare & contrast the different approaches everybody took to resolving the problem. We noted also how the use of value began to also assume a part in evoking a sense of story and influencing perception of content above & beyond the formalities of the assignment. Predictably most everyone stayed within safe (boring) parameters, and I took the opportunity to emphasize how to push the depth of the pictorial plane by exaggerating the fore/middle/background, and use of radical foreshortening and overlapping along with selective and deliberate cropping of the elements.

After that encouragement, the second take using a woman, table, lamp and door yielded much more interesting and creative solutions. This in-class exercise will dovetail quite nicely with many upcoming problems, and I've found it extremely useful to constantly refer back to it when similar situations arise. Time & time again there will be choices to make on how to rearrange elements within a drawing to make it work better, I deal with it every time I sit down with pen in hand, and more often than not it's the deciding factor between a ho-hum halfassed effort and a job well done.

Taking what's given to you and remixing it into something that's your own is one of the cornerstones in this class.

"In a world where discovery is more important than delivery, it's the people who find, remix and direct attention to old stuff that should be rewarded, not the people who deliver it or sit on it waiting for someone to show up." - Joichi Ito

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