Friday, 26 July 2013

Portrait Study from Life

Michael Whynot. Portrait study of Anne-Marie. Red chalk with white highlights, 2013.

Posting a short (fifteen minutes) study from last night's life session. I often wonder how much of an effect time has on our work? The fifteen minutes available for this study allowed for little more than a block-in with a couple of highlights to add dimensionality. Where would another fifteen minutes have led? Another thirty? An opportunity for improvement, or a chance to spoil the whole thing? I lie in bed at night and wonder about such alternatives: opportunities lost or blessings in another guise.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A Milestone Reached.

Michelangelo. Creation of Adam.

Beauty is a value as important as truth and goodness. I think we are loosing beauty and there is a danger that, with it, we will loose the meaning of life.    (Roger Scruton)

This blog reached a milestone today: ten thousand page views during the last twelve months.

When I began posting, last August, I meant to explore my ideas concerning the beauty inherent in natural forms - particularly the human form - and to chronicle my journey toward attaining the abilities necessary to depict that beauty in drawing, painting and sculpture, much as Praxiteles, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael had done before me.

I have come a long way, but have much further, yet, to go. I would like to thank everyone who has been following my posts, these last twelve months. I hope that you will continue to follow my journey; I hope my work proves worthy of your interest.

Drawing Between the Lines: Achieving Dimensionality.

Michael Whynot. Leg study in red chalk, 2013.

I began this post by preparing to upload a recent leg study without much in the way of commentary, but then I took a moment to consider the process of what I had drawn. Achieving a sense of dimensionality in the figure doesn't just happen; and it certainly won't happen by slavishly copying the external contours of the figure.

The eye of the viewer must be coaxed inside the form and away from the external contour. The way to do this is by not placing a hard outline around your forms, which is exactly what most beginning draftsmen struggle obsessively to copy from the model. Line quality and line weight are tied intrinsically to this aspect of good drawing.

Where to emphasize or not emphasize an external contour is an aesthetic decision that really defies rules, so study Michelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci and Pontormo to understand how it should look when done well.

To persuade the viewer's eye to dwell within the contours, you must give it something to look at. The nearer forms must be modelled upon those forms which are farther away; in this way, depth is achieved.

Creating the appearance of dimensionality of a three dimensional form in space upon a two dimensional surface is not easy, but the sense of wonder it elicits is magical and well-worth our time and study.


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Drawing Upon Imagination.

Michael Whynot. Study of male reaching. Red chalk, 2013.

To 'draw' implies everything the word stands for: to pull or to drag or or to draw forth, as from the earth, a vein, or well.   (Lance Esplund)

Where are ideas born; from whence does inspiration spring? The imagination is little understood, but would seem to be a distillation of the remembered experiences of our lives. Hence, the infinite variety and scope of individual creativity.

Drawing is the ideal way of exploring the imagination: pulling new ideas to the surface, examining unfamiliar pieces of a puzzle until they fall into place. Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pontormo; they all understood the link between drawing and the imagination, though its source remained mysterious to them - divine.

The drawing, above, was done this morning from imagination, and, like those masters five hundred years ago, I, too, have no conception of how it arose.

There are so many ways that a drawing can fail, that I am led to contemplate the hand of God in my work - the minor miracle exposed - when I actually succeed.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Recreating Form: The Role of Conception in Drawing.

Michael Whynot. Male figure seen from behind, 2013. Red chalk.

What is art but life upon the larger scale, the higher. When, graduating up in a spiral line of still expanding and ascending gyres, it pushes toward the intense significance of all things, hungry for the infinite.              (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

I am posting a study done last evening. The gesture is very subtle; weight resting on one leg, a nearly imperceptible twist of the spine. The angle of the wrist seemed curious to me, questioning something. We bring much of ourselves to the work we create. In truth, it is our conception of what we see that sets our best work apart from work where we simply copy what we see.

My goal is to not copy nature, but to recreate nature as I see it; the grace and splendor possible in the human form. This is the where a personal style emerges.

Who could argue that Michelangelo did not recreated everything he drew, painted or sculpted. His forms are idealized, conceived to fulfill a purpose; his purpose. Why is it that his work is so revered? Were his proportions more accurate, his modeling of form more realistic?

No. It was that his conception was more vivid, his imagination more divine. He saw form in a manner which others could not and he had the skill to render that conception in chalk, paint and stone, so that others could see what he saw: wonders.

So I will continue along the path of recreating form, nurturing imagination and conception, searching for the ideal.