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August 16, 2011

Exercises for Figure Drawing

I really enjoy drawing figures and have a variety of exercises that I've done over several years to practice sketching body parts:  faces, hands, and feet. 

Drawing faces:  I save full face portraits from magazines and for this exercise I divide them in half vertically.  I collage one half of the face to a sketchbook page and then sketch the missing side - trying to copy the original as closely as possible.  I saw this idea on a website or blog, but don't remember where.

Drawing hands:  I have an articulated hand, that I bought second hand at a mannequin supply store in Manhattan, that I can position and then draw.  And for almost two years I worked my way through a website with photos of hands forming the American Sign Language letters.  I just finished Y and Z - so I'm done.

Drawing feet:  So far most of my sketches are of my feet and my husband's feet as we sit watching TV.

Here are the last 6 pages in my practice sketchbook.

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August 15, 2011

Drawing Mom

My 93 year old Mother fell and broke her right hip and shoulder last November.  She lives in a retirement community in New Jersey, about an hour drive outside NYC.  She has her own apartment, but now requires a home health aid 24/7.  Since her injury, hospitalization, and rehab, I visit weekly.   Sometime in the morning, we go for a "walk" and sit in the big recreation areas or on the patio.  And we laugh, alot, as I try to sketch her portrait.  Her she is in a photo.

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Most of my early sketches all looked like the same woman, just not my Mother.  So we named her Lilly and created a persona for her.  I finally decided to use a grid on a photo of her to try to get a better likeness using that time-honored technique.  You can still see some of the unerased grid markings on this pencil drawing.  But that didn't look like her either.  Note:  I used a different photo for the grid.

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She always looks at my drawing and says something like "great job on my hair, or the earrings."  Here is the latest one - she still says that I'm not close.  But at least we have fun, and it makes the visit more interesting.

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August 11, 2011

Zach at the Central Park Zoo

We had our youngest grandchild, Zachary, with us for the weekend.  On Saturday morning we decided to take him to the Central Park Zoo and set off with stroller, diapers, snacks and camera.  As soon as we tried to put him in the stroller, he complained bitterly and stressed, "No stroller."  I asked him if he wanted to walk, preferring to avoid the fight, and he smiled and said yes.  Zach is one year old - soon to be 2.

I told my husband that he would get tired and ask to ride, and every several blocks I asked him if he was ready to ride.  I was walking at a regular pace and he was almost trotting, holding my hand.  Twenty-four blocks later we arrived at the Zoo - he walked and sometimes ran the entire way!!  In New York City, 20 uptown-downtown blocks equals one mile! 

And then he walked around the entire Zoo!  I find this phenomenal and told our son that he finally had someone who would be running and cycling with him in a few years!

Here he is watching the sea lion exhibit.  His shirt says Here Comes Trouble!

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 We always love the penguins.  I took photos while we watched them and sketched these later during naptime.

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Zach saw the polar bear, monkeys, and lots of birds.  Here he is walking ahead of me at the end of our visit.  And he was still full of energy!

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Here is my sketch, to make sure that I have memories of the wonderful day.

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August 3, 2011

Figure Drawing Outdoors at Battery Park City

Today my friend Teri and I went to "Figure al Fresco" for the first time.  This is a free art program held by the Battery Park Conservancy from May 1st through October 31st.  There is one model in clothes for 2 hours - and art supplies are provided free.  It is held in a lovely area of the Park, right along the Hudson River and the staff is very professional and attentive.

There were ten 1 minute poses (yikes!), five 2 minute poses, two 5 minute poses, and two 10 minute poses.  A light rain started right before the final pose - 20 minutes - so we gathered our sketchbooks and headed back to the subway. 

This is my favorite 2 minute pose - I always find sitting positions, facing forward, a challenge.  The model wore glasses, and was pulling on a sandal.

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Here are the 5 minute poses.  I use a 9B graphite pencil and there is lots of smudging on the page, and even some sketches from the other side of the page are visible.

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And the 10 minute poses:

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August 1, 2011

Alexander McQueen Exhibit at the Met

This exhibit has surpassed all prior exhibit records for the number of visitors, and I can't ever remember seeing lines so long in front of the Met and snaking through the galleries waiting to be admitted to the Galleries.  By mid-July they were reporting a half-million visitors entered the McQueen galleries.  And the last two evenings of the exhibit this week, the Met is staying open until Midnight!

Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) had amazing creativity, even though his clothes were more like costumes than clothes to wear, even for the "fashionistas."  The runway shows for every new collection were spectacles and it is fascinating to see videos of the shows, in the exhibit, along side the clothes and their accessories. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art website for the exhibit is fabulous and you might enjoy seeing the fashions, the videos, and the quotes from McQueen himself.  I have been several times and even standing shoulder - to - shoulder managed to sketch a few of the garments.  I haven't painted some of the pages yet, but I haven't even decided if I will.

The second garment, the long black coat, is constantly blowing up around the mannequin - a very effective way to show the fullness and construction.

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The coat from the garment on the left is made of duck feathers painted gold.  It was designed before McQueen's suicide and was only shown, after his death, to small groups of friends in a very small private venue.  I painted it with gold gouache, but the metallic sheen doesn't scan.  In the gallery there are 5 mannequins dressed in his final designs - and they appear in a large glass enclosed space that represents a huge gold casket.

The garment on the right is from his final runway show - Plato's Atlantis - and the designs were inspired by the fabrics he made.  This one is composed of images from snake skins. My painting really looks very little like the exquisite fabric.

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The final two sketchbook pages were done last Friday - and just represent images that I liked.  The second dress from the left was white, with a tan belt around the top.  Then it was painted during the runway show - and you can see the amazing production here in this very short video. It is the 5th video on the page - No. 13 Spring-Summer 1999.

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The shoe that I sketched on the upper right is actually a clay mould for ceramic shoes worn by models in the runway shows.  And they weren't even the most extreme shoes that the poor models had to wear!

 

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Hope you enjoy this brief visit - and can appreciate the genius of Alexander McQueen.