Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Studio Talk: Learning to Draw, part 1
The old cliche—“I can’t even draw a straight line”—overlooks the fact that artists use rulers for this purpose. But great drawing seldom relies on straight lines, anyway. It combines free-flowing lines to weave magic tapestries, and is a skill that anyone can master.
The tools for drawing are simple ones: a pencil, pen, or a piece of charcoal make wonderful drawing mediums. And any paper you have available will do.
Learning to draw is a matter of learning to see. When you look at an object, are you really aware of it? Think about it. What is it made of? What does it do? Is it wider than it is tall? Is one part larger than another? A tree has a distinctive shape, but not all trees have the same shape. A tall pine is cone-shaped; a maple may be fat and rounded; an old apple tree in winter is gnarled and angular. Be alert to these descriptive differences.
Practice drawing what you see by making many sketches of objects around you. Sketch commonplace things: a chair, table, fire hydrant, your house. In all your sketching, try to find the expressive characteristics that make the object unique. In addition, try to make the function of the object clear to anyone looking at your drawing. Let’s say, for example, that you’re drawing a pencil sharpener. Notice the size of the handle in comparison to the overall size. Where does it attach to the back of the sharpener—near the bottom or near the top? When you’ve trained your eye to see proportions and construction in this way, you’ll draw convincingly.
Watch for Part 2 of this Studio Talk on learning to draw!
Friday, November 11, 2011
Murals by Diego Rivera reunited at MoMA
The Museum of Modern Art in New York is about to open an exhibition of five murals created by Diego Rivera in 1931, reuniting these panels for the first time in 80 years. This link to the exhibition includes a very informative multimedia tour, complete with audio, of the paintings as well as background information on Rivera’s legendary mural for Rockefeller Center.
Rivera actually worked on the murals in an empty gallery at the museum; he kept the heat off because he didn’t want the paint to dry too quickly. Five of the murals he created depict events in Mexican history; three more captured scenes of Depression-era New York. In the years since their creation, the murals have scattered to private collections and other museums; only one remained at MoMA. One of the New York scenes is very relevant to today’s world: its three tiers show, from top, a skyline of skyscrapers, a pier sheltering the unemployed, and a bank vault where the wealthy count their money. Its title: “Frozen Assets.”
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