Saturday, January 20, 2018

LJAB Days 19 and 20

The Little January Art Book is getting a bit disorganized and unwieldy, and with ten more or so days to go, I'll have to figure out a way to bind it, or subdivide it or something.

Meanwhile, Days 19 and 20.  Indoor scenery, fireplace with fake insert glowing happily, graphite stick.

And my staghorn fern, pilot pen fine point black

If you're interested in any technical points about these drawings, read on.  Both run deliberately off the side of the paper at least once.  This creates negative space within the picture plane, and gives stability and interest to the subject.  It's what we learned from nineteenth century Japanese woodblock prints, masterly design.

Both subjects are placed off center from top and bottom.  In the top drawing, the foreground is larger than the top part of the drawing. This draws you in, and situates your eye wrt the subject, brings you in close.  As befits a fireplace. And the soft graphite stick takes the hard edge off the feeling of the drawing.

The fern drawing has a lot more air above it, because that allows movement in the subject, again it fits the concept of the living plant reaching for light.  And the shelf drawn under it anchors it in space, as well as giving a nice straight-line contrast to the curves of the leaves. The sharp pen lines pick up the architecture of the plant.

You never want a subject to be floating in the middle of the paper like a raft in a quarry.  And you do want to see the entire page as your picture plane, not just a place to put a drawing onto.  Preschool kids are very good at this, worth looking at their drawings to see. Especially if they draw a house.  And nearly every child makes a point of putting a doorknob on the front door, so you can open the imaginary house!

 Preteens, though, get tense and perfectionistic about drawing. That's often when people just stop drawing. Other priorities in their lives.

I remember after one adult drawing class years ago, after two hours of concentrated work, one man looked up and said, gads, I never knew how tiring art is!  I thought you just sort of doodled.  I'll be lucky to get home before I fall asleep driving.  He was very happy with his output, though.

People refreshing their art or coming to it as beginners in midlife do get a surprise at how much planning and decision making go into even a small, comparatively simple, work.  But they also find what a satisfaction it is to try it. Even if you do need a little lie down after.  The creation and decision making and initiative required to make art are a great reason to keep it in the school curriculum.  Artists get the job done!

While I'm at it, a litmus test for a real artist, any age, as opposed to a wannabe is just that.  Do they do the work. Without being pushed along. Real artists hit their deadlines, show up on time, have ideas, are open to new ideas. Just a little PSA for my peeps here!



  1. I have taken up acrylic painting and I am just feeling my way around with no real goal. I found this post to be very interesting and helpful. I made a plan to paint something, anything, at least once a week just to try to force myself over the inertia that fear of failure brings about. Your post gave me lots of food for thought. Ah, I wish I lived close enough to come to one of your art classes!

  2. That's a good plan to just paint anything rather than agonizing over the subject. It's not the subject, it's what you do with it. You might consider painting small, too. Try 8x5, that's a golden rectangle, for starters. It's a great proportion and will make your painting look really good.

    And let us know how it goes.


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