Lost and Found Edges

The Jordan's Red Dress.jpg

Looking up from sweeping, there on the wall, was the most impressive drawing of the human figure I have ever seen. Working for Welna Gallery as a gopher I got to see some amazing art by living artists. It was important to me to study living artists, to be able to ask questions of them was such a great help. Looking up at this drawing more answers were coming to me than questions. Most drawings of the human figure are full of highlights, little dots of pure white. This drawing, by Richard Schmid, had not one highlight, making the figure look so real. Richard had captured the look of skin with conte' alone. The other thing that struck me was how he rendered the penis. For me, and many artists, how one deals with the genitals is a major problem, genitals are right there in the center of the body, limiting the poses most artists feel comfortable with. Some artists never return to the nude once out of art school. 

Studying Richard's drawing that afternoon I learned more about drawing and art than I did in a year at school; not that they hadn't taught us the things I was understanding studying Richard's drawing. Looking at that piece so many things about drawing became clear. Lost and found edges, where darks are important and where to use lines and/or smudges. That night at home I went through my collection of Saturday Evening Post covers and found some of the same little nuances in Norman Rockwell paintings. It was very clear. Rockwell's knowledge of the human figure and how to capture it gave him great story telling ability with his art.  

I carry all I learn from drawing and painting the human figure with me when I am out painting. Some of the best plein air workshops are actually taught in life drawing classes. What one learns in one workshop can be applied to other forms of art.  

The Model Relationship

         Cont'e on strathmore, 4 ply bristol board; this is a new style for me. I'm experimenting. Beautiful renderings of beautiful women just do not do it for me any longer. I'm hoping that an interesting technique leads to an interesting drawing, not just another portrait of a beautiful woman. 
          I've worked with some very inspiring models, who have been even more interesting to know as individuals. I haven't learnt yet how to capture their personal story with just cont'e or charcoal; a task that may be impossible. The beauty of working from a live model is that we, the model and myself, get to know one another which over the years has become a major factor in all my work. both painting and drawing. Making a picture is easy, making a work of art is hard. Art is relating a feeling, or passion through the materials we use. A story, told, but unheard, is what a work of art is when the viewer doesn't totally relate to it. I wrap myself in the presence of my model, letting her presence guide my hand. A light touch, a heavy stroke, a muted color; are all brought about by how I saw the model. Even though I pay my models, I still consider it a privilege to have them in my studio posing for me. To hear about their lives outside the studio brightens my palette, makes my hand more sure, and pushes me to dream up more personal concepts. 
          An artist friend asked me why I use such expensive frames on certain paintings, when I could get away with lesser ones. I said, "It is out of respect for what went into those paintings."