Aid in Developing Artistic Expression

S.'s homework, as before, demonstrated strong comprehension of the prior lesson and serious time investment. She is a quiet person who absorbs information with little comment and processes it with surprising quickness. Her homework drawings were based on still life compositions of her choice. Her control of proportion and spatial relationship in the homework assignment achieved effects far beyond the lesson. It is apparent that Sylva works very well on her own, and my role, fortunately, is more of a guide than a pedagogue. I have shown her techniques that most beginners might get lost in. When she produces a homework assignment, it is obvious that she not only understood the principle of the lesson, but makes it her own. I was impressed by her new freedom of line and sense of confidence in her recent homework assignment. She is getting proficient with the use of directional lines, measuring, object rendering, and even light, shade and texture. It is not surprising that her still life setups (compositions) were a bit contrived - it is hard for a beginner to intuit relational harmony of objects. I had anticipated this, and brought her a new tool - the adjustable cardboard "frame" that allows an artist to create a border around any composiiton - whether a small still life or huge landscape - to focus on composition and help make placement decisions. She had some doubts as to the usefulness of this tool, and I assured her that it is only one of many and that, of course, she is free to set it aside if it does not suit her. However, I encouraged her to use the technique in at least only one homework sketch, and later when we start to draw from nature outdoors, before she decides whether she wants to adopt the technique or not. Drawing is an excercise like any other discipline, and as such, can burden a student with a certain tedium before good habits are set. Since she will soon get a private notebook and start to explore her creative expression, some of the traditional academic techniques eventually might not be to her taste. However, she can always have them in her "repertoire" if needed.

I lent her the book "Griffin and Sabine" by Nick Bantock so she can view the work of an artist who exhibits the highest level of graphic control combined with original and refined fantasy. I am curious to see if she will like it. "Back to earth" again, I gave her a quick demonstration about crosshatching, chiaroscuro (using a spotlight on simple objects) and combining a few techiques to work from light to dark (charcoal "glaze" or smudging, combined with crosshatching and linear rendering, all in the same drawing). So, her homework projects get a little more challenging each time. I am not sure if she realizes how impressive her progress has been in three lessons. We also spoke about some new tools I have suggested that she purchase: pen and ink, and/or artists' pens, acrylic markers, graphite pencils, and a sketchbook of textured paper.

More on the theme of composition: I touched briefly on the Golden Mean, the Fibonacci Series, and using the frame as points of reference for measuring distances between and within objects. I emailed her some links to the work of master draughtsmen to get a good look at crosshatching (Durer, Sargent, Rubens, Michelangelo) and, for fun, works of Morandi, just because she has been using bottles for her still life practice. It is time for us to take a look at anatomy and portraiture, next lesson.


Deborah S.

Studio Arts, Literature & Writing

50+ hours
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