Archives for posts with tag: figure drawing

In between trying to perfect my process of printing the very large hand, I’m trying to distract myself with another piece.

I grew up around big buildings and construction sites – my dad is in the construction industry. I have a strange love for the smell of sawdust and melted sotter. For me growing up, being around large buildings was natural, so I grew used to tramping around jobsites with an oversized hardhat on, looking at pipe & steel girders, and riding dirty construction elevators. I love the way a building represents so many things in our material and social worlds – shelter, community, work, intricate parts fit together by so many different workers, upholding our society for so many generations now. There is something comforting about the ability to put something so complex down on paper in coded image form and then slowly over time hundreds of people stitch the whole thing together. Kind of like art.

So, I’ve started working with scraps of blueprints that I’ve collected. I began this piece by collaging the scraps onto a piece of plywood:

Tapping into the figure drawing class again, I cut out one of my sketches – the shape of a hand resting on a leg – and attached it in the lower right corner:

Next I pulled out another big scrap bin and cut up pieces of financial outlook statements. I love the blues that are showing in here, and so I also added some other loose long scraps on the left, not shown:

Finally, I printed an image that I created last year of an airplane engine, onto a large sheet of sheer paper, and then pasted the whole thing on top, so that all of the images I describe above were obscured:

Strangely, all of these images came to me separately, but this whole thing weaves a story of 9/11 that I wasn’t expecting. I’m from the east, and I’ve been on the construction sites of several huge buildings in NYC, including the new World Trade Center (expect a future blog post on this). And the WTC resides in the heart of the financial district. Somehow the hand seems to be one at rest, calm yet strong, our people? And then the overlay of the plane, taking down what was once structural and whole and sending it back to the beginning.

I haven’t taken a figure drawing class since college (and even then I’m guessing it was a workshop, not a full semester), so to say it’s been a while is an understatement. So when a friend let me know about a drop-in figure drawing class, I was both excited and nervous.

The daunting challenge of drawing people – or worse, drawing faces! What is it about this that is so intimidating? The face is the connection with the inner soul of another, and so capturing that seems to be of the utmost importance. And it stands to reason that the face also seems to be the most intricate (intimate?) part of the body – lots to capture in that drawing, explicitly and implicitly. Good thing I didn’t think about any of this before I started going to the class.

Also, I brought some tools with me that I learned from a past art professor, Robert Spellman. The most important instruction is to not worry about the outcome, but instead enjoy and experience the process. The second is a cool tip that I like because it helps me get started by going through a “back door” of sorts: keep your eye on the thing you are drawing at all times, don’t look at the paper, and practice really drawing what you see, instead of what you think you see. Harder than it sounds. Sometimes this means that the drawing doesn’t look “realistic”, but they tend to look “real”.

I use Prismacolor markers – I have a gray-scale set and a color set, and I draw on 60lb paper. In a three hour session, the model takes breaks about every 20 minutes (the position is marked with tape), and I flip through my sketchpad doing about 5 to 14 sketches in the whole session.

I also enjoyed drawing hands, so I’ll upload some of those images in an upcoming post.