In all these years of blogging, don't think I've ever managed to categorize a post under the dual labels of both "Teaching" and "Castor canadensis." The above image wasn't quite a demo in the usual sense, as I just did it in ten minutes off to the side on my own while the rest of the class was diligently toiling away on the same assignment, which I then gave away to the underpaid + unappreciated model. Back at the studio and a little bit of Photoshopping for a title... and now I have the cover to my memoir. And a literal illustration of of one of my favorite principles in action.
The exercise “Observation, Experience and Imagination” (previous posts here, here and here) in theory ties together everything we’ve been working on in the semester. Obviously the time constraint is an issue, but it’s supposed to be just a really quick in-class experiment meant to illustrate that at some fundamental level, everything we draw - or critique for that matter – will be principally predicated upon one of those three sources, or at least some of all three incorporated to varying degrees. Kinda like an equalizer shapes sound into a collective, overall result: individual history, training and expertise (experience); drawing from life (observation); and the wild card of creativity (imagination). An ever-evolving mix that is adapted differently for each scenario, subject matter and situation. It's one answer to the question "where do you get your ideas?" - from anywhere and anything, to everywhere and everything, from inside and outside. This is why it's crucial for an artists to always be working and have as many irons in the fire as possible: even when you don't have any ideas, there's always something to draw, sketch or doodle, and that simple act more often than not will in turn beget the Jacob's Ladder of inspiration.
Students sketch the model for 15 minutes (leaving room around the figure); then spend another 15 minutes adding - purely from memory - an environment/setting based on someplace we’ve previously drawn (symphony hall, library, art department studio study, hallways, library stacks, greenhouse, interior or exterior critique pieces etc.); another 15 minutes incorporating a couple elements out of their sketchbooks culled from the numerous outings we’ve done for reference sketches (emphasizing fore/mid/background); and a final 15 minutes tying the composition together using any medium (charcoal, marker etc.). It's the last inspirational mini-lecture the class hears from me until our final critique, and one of the very few grand summations that I hope everybody manages to take away at least something to remember. All of it, all of this, is just a jumping-off point. Every day in fact. Filed under "Works for me."