Tag Archives: art instruction

Meander Time

The following is a re-post from a website called The Mindful Artist

Michele (the writer) is an artist and also runs a mentor program for other artists. She writes very thoughtful posts about the creative process and “bumps in the road” that we all might hit sooner or later. I thought this post was enlightening and helpful, so I am re-posting it. Hope you like it too.

The other day in the studio I was reminded of how important it is for me to have what I like to call “meander time”.

Meander time is that unstructured, unproductive, unhurried envelope in which there are no goals, no urgency towards completion, only a free and easy flow of listening to and following our quiet inclinations.

When I work in my studio, I generally jump in where I left off the day before. I settle easily into a humming rhythm of focus and productivity. But this time, something didn’t feel right. The process felt forced.

I paused and found a comfy place, got quiet, closed my eyes and went inward. It became clear to me that I hadn’t been allowing time recently in the studio for exploration, for browsing in books, for lying and looking at the ceiling, for staring out the window or just being.

This is pure right brain territory.

This is when we are in a receptive state.

This is when fresh, new ideas are able to flow in.

Most of us were told when young and apt to daydream that we were “wasting” time. Wasting time is frowned upon severely in a society full of people who feel so busy and strapped for time. We feel more virtuous when we are productive.

Some of my most rich and fruitful ideas come from meander time. Sometimes this means getting outside the studio – going on a walk or just sitting and being in nature. Sometimes it involves going on the studio with no particular plan and allowing myself to rest, nap, stare at the works in progress, peruse art books or leaf through boxes of old drawings or supplies. It’s really about letting go of a particular objective and following what feels right in the moment.

There’s a delicate balance we artists ride between doing and being.

Too much “being” can be a disguised form of avoidance. Too much “doing” and our creative well dries up because it is never replenished.

What about you? Have you noticed this rhythm within yourself? When have you opened up to meandering and allowed new ideas to flow in?

For the original post go here http://www.themindfulartist.com/2011/03/meander-time/

 

 

Double the Fun

One homework assignment in Foundation Sculpture was to sculpt a bell pepper. Now, that sounds boring – or so I thought. The twist was that we had to double it in size in the process and for an extra kick it was encouraged to find a bell pepper that had especially “sexy” and complex curves.

Unfortunately I did not get a photo of the original bell pepper. These little buggers spoil pretty fast. I was very busy sculpting and forgot to get a photo at the time. So, to give you an idea how large it is I put a regular size pen right next to the sculpture. It is a pretty amazing experience how doubling a 3D object turns out. Just by looking at my original pepper, I did not expect the sculpture to be so massive.

Also, sculpting a bell pepper is much more challenging than one would think. There’s no rule to all these curves and little “hills” and “valleys” and the object is much stranger than we think it is. Of course we see bell peppers all the time in daily life but have you really looked at the intricacies of one? I mean, really looked and thought about them?

Doubling it in size makes copying the object even harder. There’s a lot to compute and it’s quite a workout for your powers of observation. If you are interested in learning to sculpt and have never done this exercise, I strongly encourage you to do so – it’s much more interesting and educational than you would think.

DSC_0096I worked in water based clay, the sculpture is roughly 13″ in length, 4.5″ at the widest point and 3.5″ at the highest point.

DSC_0096It turns out that the shapes of a pepper can be very similar to those of the human body. Somehow it does look sexy.   🙂

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Steal Like an Artist – Happy 2013 !

Steal Like an Artist – 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative is the title of a new book by Austin Kleon.

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Kleon examines and shares inspiring advice on how to make (good) art. 140 pages long, it’s a quick and rewarding read.

In the spirit of this book I wish you a productive and inspired 2013.

As Jane Fonda once said, “you always regret what you didn’t do”. So, go ahead and do it, don’t let anything or anyone discourage you.  Be inspired – discover and create.

HAPPY NEW YEAR !

 

 

Wire and Clay (Warrior)

Remember the post Gesture Sculpting from November 18th. I posted pictures of little wire sculptures. I made them to capture the gesture of the model in 3D. Now here is an additional way to work with them. Tack (use staple gun) the wire man down on a piece of wood so it can’t fall over and add clay around the wire. It’s an easy (you already have the gesture – which is a lot) and quick way (we had about an hour in class) to create a more defined sculpture.

Looking at it now, I’m fascinated with the contrast/combination of (the now rusted) wire and clay. I like the unfinished slightly unproportional look, the dried cracked clay – all of that gives it a raw almost surreal look. I named the sculpture “Warrior”, somehow it has that feel to me – well, you decide for yourself.

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Warrior | Clay, Wire and Wood | November 2012

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Gesture Sculpting

You remember the post before the last one where I was talking about gesture drawing, how to do it and why. The principle can be used in sculpting as well. All you need is wire.

You make little figures – we made them about 16 inches tall – and then you can “gesture sculpt”. At school we had a live model and every gesture took about 5 to 15 minutes. It takes a little longer than gesture drawing because you have to bend and shape using pliers. As always, with time and practice it becomes easier and the wire sculptures get more complex and expressive.

The added dimension (working in 3D) makes you think much more about the directions that the body parts go, the tilts and twists a body can show. Note in the following picture how the pelvis tilts to the left while the shoulders stay straight.

 

It’s fascinating how much information one can capture. Is it a relaxed or tense pose? Which way does he look?

When they stand on their own it means you really found the line of gravity that goes through the body – which sounds easier than it is, trying to be fast and accurate at the same time.

And here the whole gang.

 

 

Gesture Drawing

Gesture drawings are usually done very quickly. The exercises we did in class ranged from just 10 seconds to 5 minutes. It’s not about getting technically everything right, one does not necessarily aim for exact proportions and so on, it’s even in your way to think along that line. Gesture drawing is an exercise where it’s helpful to loosen up. It’s more about feeling “things” out, understanding what the subject or object is all about. The speed forces you to let go of thinking too much, decisions have to be made in a split second. However the more skilled you are at drawing – and of course, the more you practice gesture drawing itself – the better your gesture drawings will become. All the hard work will eventually show in those ten seconds. A gesture drawing can be done of pretty much anything, be it a person, a chair, a tree or a coffee cup. It’s all about capturing the essence of the subject/object, the expression frozen in the moment; you might even say it’s an attempt to capture an emotion. Here are a few gesture drawings of people (from class) and chickens (homework). The drawings of the chickens took less than 10 seconds per chicken, the gesture drawings of the models are 5 minute drawings.

 

 

 

 

Artistic Anatomy

During spring quarter 2012 at Gage I took a class called Artistic Anatomy. In this class you literally study anatomy as far as it applies to drawing (and consequently also to painting and sculpting). In other words you study the skeleton, muscles, etc. – even hair (direction of hair growth, beard) – you get the idea. However this class was an advanced class for students who already had taken part 1 and part 2 in fall and winter, so I got a little in over my head. It was expected that one already knows most of the anatomy and applies it to life drawing. Thankfully I was not the only one who misjudged the class content and the instructor adjusted his curriculum taking the time at the beginning of each session repeating the material in an abbreviated form and explaining once more the specific parts of the body before we started drawing from the life model.

It was quite a ride, I have to say. The upside is, I tend to work harder when I feel that I’m behind. Also, the instructor did not exactly cut me (or anyone else for that matter) any slack. He was not pleased that he had so many people in class that had not already studied the subject. He was very critical and, without any mercy, took every one of my drawings apart. Sometimes it was hard to take it all in but it helped me to get better. One certainly learns through failure. Towards the end of the quarter I even received an approving nod here or there. During the last session we worked completely independent on a drawing of a man. When the session was over I asked him to tell me what he thought was good or bad about it. He pointed to the knee area of one leg and said, “this area here, that’s actually not bad, well defined,” …and nodding his head in thought, said again, “not bad.”   I know that doesn’t sound like much but coming from him (and considering where I had started 12 weeks earlier) it felt really good to hear 🙂

Here are a couple of my drawings/studies from that class: legs, knee, feet, female full body and a portrait.

Following a construction drawing/study of the knee (my knee in the mirror actually).

The next one is one of my favorites. I had a good session that day and although the arms are not that well defined (ran out of time) I was happy with the result.

And last but not least, a portrait.