The class assignment is complicated…
I ask students to look at and draw complex (interesting) structure and (interesting) surface texture. I have an array of subject-matter including insects, lizards and sea-shells for students to choose. I hope everyone picks up at least one bug but I know not everyone will.
First semester students use only markers (and paper) while second semester students use scratchboard. Everyone is required to use a magnifying glass. They work 4 days (about 12 hours) in class. Many take the drawing home over Spring Break, to complete.
Critique covers the strengths and weaknesses of the finished work. We talk about the process and the challenges of the assignment. And we discuss the elements of design.
Here are a hand full of the completed drawings. I include a few process and detail shots.
…complicated but beautiful!
Diana Three Bees
Diana Two Bees
Jezebel Grasshopper and a Lizard
Maw draws a shell and a cicada titled Corpse vs Death
Alisza’s cicada – Mother
Carlos “There was Four”
The assignment: to study and identify complex structure and complex texture, create a composition and balance the positive and negative space. The subject-matter for the majority of the student’s are shells. They can make other choices with homework.
I consider this assignment to be a turning point. The commitment is big and the work is intense. Students must work slow and careful using a magnifying glass to see, and see more.
Take a look at some of the finished drawings. Note the advanced students work on scratchboard.
detail shot of one of Anne’s shells
Ali’s dry leaf
Terry’s hand and seed pod.
Heather’s starfish shell.
Drawing 2 students use scratchboard and work off of photos. Clearly they have more freedom but the assignment requires steady patience.
Charles’ bird on scratch board.
Susan’s work on scratchboard
Here are a few works from yesterday’s critique. The examples include in-class and homework assignments. Note the lines that make up the structure and then note the lines that make up the texture. Students use a magnifying glass to get a clear sense of the surface on shells and other natural objects. They also have to pay attention to the negative space.
kayla in process
JT in process
J.T. shared with the class that he spent a good amount of time setting up his composition before he ever got to putting down a mark on his paper.
J.T.’s Not Four Shells
J.T.’s – Land and Sea
Cassidy’s – Land and Sea
This last photo below is a Drawing 2 student working on scratchboard. Because Adriana worked with me last Spring, I knew she was looking forward to this assignment. Her composition appeared one black, white or silver shape at a time She understands and trusts working organically.
Her work brought up interesting conversation, eventually leading to comments about the nature of empathy.
Adriana’s – Laura
This is such a valuable assignment. It’s a good amount of work for the willing student. Vicki, one of the Drawing 1 students commented on how much she is seeing. There is so much detail, she says with eyes wide open. She chooses and arranges these 2 shapes, a melon leaf and a bay leaf. They grow in her yard, she thought she was fairly familiar with them. Now with her careful observation (that includes a very good magnifying glass) she comments on the fuzzy stuff, the hair-like edge of the melon leaf. She’s aware of so much more. And she draws it …
….on a side note…
I want to share a work I commissioned from a student who worked with me over a year ago. Kimberly dropped into class last Spring to show me how her scratchboard work was evolving. She was completing a series of small pet drawings. I was so impressed by her developing skill that I asked if she could draw my cat. Over the summer she drew Issa.
Kimberly – Portrait of Issa
“Pure drawing is an abstraction.” Paul Cezanne
Because they’ve worked with me before, Joey and Julietta get some choices. They pick the subject matter and among other things I offer scratchboard and a needle tool. They accept the challenge . The result is stunning. Joey draws a seed pod and Julietta works from a photo.
For Drawing 1 students, the subject matter, on this round, are shells. Students learn to define structure and texture though the use of a variety of line. They also set up a composition by balancing the positive and the negative space. The result is a beautifully detailed drawing. I’ve explained in earlier postings of this particular assignment, for many students it’s a turning point. For Yari and Salman below, it certainly is that.
Next we are outdoors. We’ll be working on spatial depth. Phoenix give us a cool down…please.