Tag Archives: practice

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.   🙂

DSC_0096

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.

 

 

Portrait Drawing

As a follow-up to the blogs about “drawing and sculpting” (posted June and July) here is a portrait that I drew during the last class session of “Beginning Portrait – Drawing and Sculpting”. Remember the point of the class was to enhance your drawing skills through sculpting.

Pencil on Paper | May 2012

Now, in comparison look at the following portrait that I drew during my “Beginning Drawing” class during March 2012 (just a couple of months earlier). The nose and in particular the ear in this drawing are not as well developed as in the above drawing. Partly it was a lack of skill but also a lack of “seeing” things and being able to translate it into 2D. The sculpting truly helped to understand the form better and become better at drawing 🙂

Charcoal on Paper | March 2012

Portrait – Drawing and Sculpting (Mouth)

On June 26th and 27th I posted sculptures of the nose and ear. Here comes the mouth.

As a reminder: the purpose of sculpting parts of the face (in this exercise) is to understand their shape better – the plane breaks, the volume, the relationships of the parts of the face to each other – consequently it helps to become better at drawing (the face). In addition one can practice drawing from the sculptures – drawing from a 3-D model – e.g. the following photos show how the shape of the mouth can create shadows on the face, it also shows the “hills” and “valleys” of this part of the face quite well. You could also draw the feature from different angles – e.g. practicing drawing a foreshortened view etc.

The following photo shows well that it’s really only a sculpture of the mouth. Neighboring features of the mouth are only developed as much as necessary to understand the relationship hence the nose in this sculpture is really a rather undefined lump of plasticine serving as the “boarder” to the north (casting a shadow) and showing that the philtrum groove of the mouth connects to the nose – although it doesn’t show the details of how exactly it connects to the nose as this information is not needed for drawing the mouth.