Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Beginning Drawing Highlights: Figure Drawing

"Do not fear mistakes, there are none." - Miles Davis

While continually engrossed in teaching an established pattern of foundational exercises and beginning techniques over the course of any given semester, sometimes as a teacher you are rewarded with seeing immediate examples of promising talent emerge amidst the usual efforts. In other words, punctuated equilibrium in action. Occasionally there's a discernible difference in a random class' overall makeup: if you're lucky, and paying attention, one begins to notice better-than-average drawings cropping up. In this particular case, there was an obvious skew towards some pretty damn decent figure drawing compared to the "normal" ratio. Which is odd considering the trepidation many students have at approaching what's rumored to be one of the "hardest" subjects to draw. Or it could be that by this time, after everything we've been through and all that they've done - they are ready and able to tackle just about anything. That and they're simply better after all that constant drawing.

Upping the output by continually cranking out gestures as a warm-up and producing four, six, eight or more completed pieces in one session increases the odds of pulling off a couple keepers. Another factor is the subject matter, there's the connection with the fact one is drawing another person. The focus is shifted into a much more  empathetic awareness which influences the depth of the pieces, so in turn they reflect a sensitivity and responsiveness one just can't get from a bowl of fruit. Then again, this is all precisely the reason many folks are intimidated by drawing the model: confronting real, live human beings more often exposes the observer.

One personal handicap that's been noticeably growing is an attitude of increasing hesitation towards critiquing art. By this I mean I'm not shy about voicing an opinion, it's just that I'm now equally aware of just how much of a difference a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, months and even years can have on the interpretation and consequent understanding of a work. And as with just about everything taught in the classroom, it rebounds and reflects back to the home front art: distance gives an objectivity and perspective I completely overlook in the middle of the creative thicket. There's an irony in how it can be used for either extreme - cutting slack or cracking down. It's never good enough, or hey, don't worry it works.
"Man's naked form belongs to no particular moment in history; it is eternal, and can be looked upon with joy by the people of all ages." - Auguste Rodin 

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