Sunday, February 14, 2010

Upside down

Saturday was a weird day, the weather and my moods in concordance--gray, gloomy, low contrast...and topped off with horrible traffic. But shortly before closing time I did make it to the South Shore Art Center's exhibit titled "Water". There was a highlight! I always like to imagine at an exhibit that I am the judge of merit. I can't say that my picks could be so very different, except that I would have needed a much larger basket of prizes. It's simply fascinating to witness how uniquely artists interpret their worlds. I can still feel the sunny warm yellows that surprisingly leaned slightly into a grassy green--that work sadly received no mention. All works are priced so I of course played the game of finding the most highly valued. $15,500. Whoa! So I'm looking at it, wondering what the hullabaloo is all about. All of a sudden, it appears as if out of darkness. Exactly! It's name, I think, is "Twilight". It's as if my eyes need time to adjust to the low light, and then the patterns slowly emerge. Only the slightest hint of color appears, my cones just on the edge of firing. I then humbly imagine the skill of the painter to handle his oils so eloquently.

Saturday's attempt at upside down drawing was nothing less than annoying. I margined out my sketch pad so as to match my drawing model and then somehow disregarded the bottom margin. Of course, I didn't realize this until I was through and frowning at the misshapen mess. In all fairness, I wasn't really paying close attention to my work. During art, explosive movies do not make good background. Jazz does.

So today I regrouped. Quiet jazz in the background. I applied grids to my model and my paper. Somehow yesterday I'd forgotten all about that technique. You can still see the grid in my model here:

And a couple of hours later, here's my resulting sketch:

So what's so great about drawing with the model upside down? Well, if I don't know what I'm drawing, I am left simply with shapes and their locations. I put a good deal of time into those negative shapes. After all, they are just as accurate as the shapes created by physical objects.

This all got me thinking...

Breaking recognition off of perception is a powerful technique.

Paper stops being paper when the first line graces the page. That first line becomes a thing, a something, an object on the field.


  1. Love the last line of today's post.
    Quite the exercise to draw upside down, isn't it? In a recent workshop, we had to do self portraits upside down-in many ways it took the pressure off of trying to capture a likeness as we concentrated on shapes, negative space and how they related to each other. When our paintings were finally turned right side up, many of us felt that while the works themselves were not exact likenesses, we had indeed captured something of ourselves that our more traditionally painted portraits lacked.
    ~ gretchen

  2. I somehow had this idea that drawing upside down would be easier than my recent exercises. It took real effort to focus on shapes and their relative positions.

    Wow, that is quite an exercise from your workshop.

    You know, I've real all about exercises in my library of drawing books but never paid them much mind. Now I'm learning how effective they can be.