During winter quarter I attended a Figure Drawing class at Gage Academy. One of the methods to create a quick figure sketch we’ve talked about was “block in”. It’s good to have a good light source to create strong shadows – and then you quickly block in the dark areas and thereby create a first sketch of the figure. Following are two sketches I did in class.
The first one (woman standing) literally took only a couple of minutes. The second one (man sitting) took a little longer, may be 10 to 15 minutes. I find it fascinating what one can create with only a few strokes and capture/express so much.
Starting in January (winter quarter) I’ve been taking art classes at Gage Academy in Seattle. One of them was Beginning Drawing. Although I had some crash course in drawing basics by another instructor earlier last year, I signed up for this class in the hope that I could fill in any blanks. Overall I did not learn a lot that I didn’t know already, still it was a good experience and I got more practice. One exercise that we did very early on was a great eye opener regarding space and composition.
The instructor asked us to draw an exciting line and then draw a boring line. The point was to be emotional and spontaneous. Here is what I drew.
Charcoal on paper – guess the exciting line is obvious, the boring line is the little one in the upper right corner. Note not only the wave (or lack thereof) but also the thickness of the line.
He then asked us to draw a line that stays inside the edges of the paper. In doing so we were asked to make it more dramatic, may be using the length of the charcoal (not the tip) or whatever else we could think of to achieve the look of movement and drama.
Charcoal on paper
Next he instructed us to draw another line just like the first one (exciting and lively) but this time going off the edges of the paper at least once.
Charcoal on paper
Now observe how the dynamic of the drawing changes. The drawing where the line goes off the paper seems to be more interactive. It seems to suggest something happening outside the “frame”. Is that fascinating or what? I certainly thought so. I also was very impressed with the fact that one can express so much with a “simple” line. It seems so emotional, deliberate and artful (especially the first one that stays in the “frame”, my personal favorite) and yet it’s just random, coming out of a more or less emotional movement of the arm/body. I was super fascinated with this exercise.
The Gage Academy in Seattle is a school of fine arts. They focus “on classical training for contemporary artists”. All classes are taught by working artists. In many classes students work from a live model. Gage is a non-profit, classes are quite affordable or sometimes even free, e.g. the Art Talk Series. They focus on their mission to make high quality art education accessible to everyone (young or old) who is willing to learn, in many ways similar to the Art Students League in New York. Besides classes, workshops and lectures for adults and youth they offer Atelier for “the serious artist in training”. Atelier students study every day for many months (or even years) with a specific professional artist in a studio setting. Working side by side with an established artist in the atelier is how aspiring artists used to learn needed skills (and develop as artists) for many centuries. Another outstanding program they offer is Teen Art Studio, completely free art instruction (including material) for teens between 13 and 18 years of age. Gage Academy is located in Capitol Hill (on 10th Avenue) right next to St. Marks Cathedral. If you live in the Seattle area and you are interested in fine art drop by one of these days. It is a wonderful old brick building with just the right vibes. Sign in with the front office, walk up to the third floor and view the periodically changing exhibitions in the Entry, Rosen and Steel Gallery. May be you even get a peek in one of the studio classrooms. Get inspired – enjoy!