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January 27, 2015

Studying Under the Masters 2: Van Gogh

I registered again for Jeanne Oliver's class Studying Under the Masters, and this year the focus is on faces/portraits.  I draw from the Masters in museum and gallery exhibits whenever I visit, but I rarely can paint from their works.  So this class gives me an opportunity to study an artist a little more in depth, copy a painting, and then paint one of my own using some of the techniques learned.  Here are my blog posts from last year's class, 8 artists in just over 8 cold, winter weeks.  In most instances I copied oil paintings in watercolor and gouache to expand my knowledge of those mediums.  <http://www.paperandthreads.com/2014/01/studying_under_the_masters_mat.php>

This year Jeanne selected Vincent Van Gogh as her Master Artist and began by copying one of his watercolors.  I LOVE his drawings and watercolors and have copied several of them before.  But this was a new opportunity, so I painted Vielle Paysanne.   

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Van Gogh did two paintings of Dr. Gachet, his doctor during the last months of his life.  I chose one of them to copy, and here is a copy of the original oil painting (left) and my painting in watercolor (right).  He looks somber in the original, but less so in my copy - not my intention.  

 

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I was inspired by the story of Johanna Van Gogh and used her photos as a model for my "original" inspired by Van Gogh painting.  She was the wife of Vincent's younger brother Theo.  When Theo died, six months after Vincent, Johanna was left all of Vincent's art.  At that time his work was not appreciated, and she spent years arranging exhibits and sales in order to bring his work to the attention of the European public.  When reading her story, I was impressed by the tremendous efforts she made to preserve his legacy - a widow of just 28 with a new baby.  

I chose bright colors, split complementaries, like Van Gogh might have used, and short brushstrokes with watercolor paints.

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What I learned about Van Gogh:

His entire art career spanned only 10 years.

During that time he created 864 paintings, 1030 drawings, 147 watercolors, plus a few works in other mediums.

There is now controversy about his cause of death, with some believing that he was accidentally shot in the stomach by someone while walking in the fields because suicides are rarely caused by gun shot wounds to the stomach. 

Next Week:  Pablo Picasso 

January 23, 2015

Urban Sketching in Criminal Court

The Weekday Urban Sketchers of New York City met in Arraignments Court a week ago to sketch the proceedings.  The action was fast, with the accused appearing before the judge, with the prosecuting and defending attorneys making brief statements, mainly about setting bail and court dates for their court appearances.  Occasionally a guilty plea was entered and the judge informed the felon about the process and confirmed the decision.  Our small group sat at the back of the courtroom and watched and sketched for almost two hours, without anyone paying attention to us. 

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Judge, Lawyers, and the accused:  I grouped several of the felons, most in hoodies, the lawyers, and the judge in one composite drawing.

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Near the end of the morning a Mother and Child came in for a few minutes and sat opposite me.  Several minutes after I began my sketch, she departed, and was probably a Wife or  Girlfriend who just was there to hear the Judge and the bail decision.  Many of the accused had family members who were there to confirm that they weren't a flight risk, and had ties to the community.

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January 20, 2015

Fun Figure Drawing Exercises at MoMA

MoMA is offering drop-in Figure Drawing twice each month during the Toulouse-Lautrec Print Exhibit.  The models are actors and there are many props for them to use to evoke the café society of the Belle Epoque in Paris.  An art educator discusses Toulouse-Lautrec, his style, and his manner of capturing the performers on paper in the Cafes.  He then gives us many specific exercises during the 90 minute session - most are 3-5 minutes, the longest is 10.  Specific exercises include 1 min warm up to draw the whole figure, a quick seated pose, contour drawing, blind contour drawing, and gesture drawing.  Today I wanted to post other drawing techniques that were new to me as exercises and great fun.

Seated Pose - Model 1, Fast Profile:  I had great difficulty drawing this model's head because of her hair style. 

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Part 1 and Part 2 in Same Pose:  The model was seated on a windowsill and we had 10 minutes to sketch her.

Then we were given a small piece of colored paper and told to do a fast drawing of her in the same pose using a different tool.  I used a black Tombow marker. 

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Model 2:  The 1 + 9 Minute Exercise:  We were asked to draw the entire model in 1 minute.  After we put our pencils down, we were given 9 more minutes to add detail to only one part of the drawing.  I loved this exercise and realize that I usually go back and add detail everywhere - and this seems much fresher. 

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Capturing Active Poses:  Our model was asked to move from one body position to another, and then back again - relatively quickly (i.e. almost continuously back and forth).  We were asked to pick one point in the movement and draw it.  The model was repetitively lifting one leg to fix the strap on her shoe and then returning to a more stable position with both feet on the floor.  Her head rotated back to front as her body position shifted. 

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Model 2 - 10 minute pose to place her in an environment with a foreground, midground, and background. 

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A New Figure Drawing Exercise for Me:  Look at the model and draw her in only straight lines in 3 minutes.

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I will miss these sessions after they end in March.  The models are terrific, and the two art educators we've had were incredibly skilled at keeping the sessions moving along, introducing many ways to keep sketches fast, fresh and fun.  

January 13, 2015

Drawing the Masters

I love to draw from Master drawings and paintings, and try to do at least one drawing from each gallery or Museum visit.  The styles of these artists are so different, that I feel as if each is a challenge for me.  These are 4 drawings that I did in the last month - Andrew Wyeth, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, and Edgar Degas.  I was thrilled to see the actual sculpture of Dancer of Fourteen Years by Degas and I've included a photo that I took of this remarkable piece.   

 Andrew Wyeth  Lovers Study  Adelson Gallery New York 

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - detail from Print in Museum of Modern Art Exhibit

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Amedeo Modigliani  Elena Pavlowski     Phillips Collection  Washington DC

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Edgar Degas - National Gallery of Art Washington DC

This is the clay-wax sculpture made by Degas, complete with clothing.  She is beautiful!  The sculpture was in Degas' studio when he died and more than 30 copies were cast in bronze posthumously, and are owned by museums around the world.  Xrays studies show that Degas used old paintbrushes to support the armature within the arms. 

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January 11, 2015

Matisse Studio: Beyond the Cut-Outs

This wonderful program at the Museum of Modern Art ends today, although the exhibit continues into February.  Because I missed regular days over the holidays and while we were in Washington DC, I went to the Studio to "play" on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, including the Friday evening party marking the end of the program.  Some of my previous collages, including a fabric collage, already were posted to my blog in Oct, Nov, and Dec. 

On Wednesday I started a new series of collages - made by freehand cutting of figures and shapes in solid colors and on a solid background.  I used some advertisement cards from my ballet studio to select figures in motion, and then just began cutting - making arms, legs, torso, head etc as separate pieces.  I loved the experience and my series of 5 collages ended with a bigger piece that was cut freehand and glued during the party in 45 minutes.

Here are the collages in the series.  The first 5 collages were either copied on a color copier in reduced size at the Studio or scanned and resized digitally at home.  The last one was on a large sheet of brown paper given to each of us and had to be photographed and resized.

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My group of art friends, who regularly met at the Studio, are going to have withdrawal, much like when MoMA Print Studio ended in 2012. This Matisse program was popular with both adults and children, creating a new, young group of artists who were as enthused and playful as we were.  Everyone of us stretched our minds and skills during these sessions and remain forever grateful to the Education Department at MoMA for creating the Studio.  Thank you Sarah and Allison and your dedicated studio staff.