Friday, March 30, 2012

See these Pieces at Rivers End Gallery

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Combining the use of the Plumbline and Contour Drawing

Now your art lesson for this week is…drum roll...drum roll…
Do you know about citing a figure using a plumb line or a straight edge?
If you hold a straight pen in front of you between you and what you are drawing, you can site an object comparing its edge and shape and angle to the straight edge.
You hold the straight edge vertically
  •    You need to look for the center line.
  •    You need to look for the objects edges relation to the straights edge
 You hold a straight edge horizontally
  •     Look for the lines relation to the center line…it angle it proportion space
  •      Compare the horizontal edges to the horizontal straight edge
Hold the straight edge diagonally
  •     Look for the angle relation
  •     Look for the edge relation
With these positions, look for points on the straight edge and plot and mark distances between points.
Citing and plotting is more of an L-mode practice with only some R-mode elements.  Once the lines are plotted and points are placed in proper proportional relations, blind contour is used to connect the points.  After goodly time of practice with blind contour the line between the plotted points flows smoothly from what you see to the drawing instrument on the paper.  In blind contour you train more than your hand; you train your arm and shoulder and your mind and eye to work together.
Most people who begin drawing will attempt proportional measuring in some form, but few practice blind contour consistently.  Consequently their drawing line lacks fluidity and naturalness.
I hope I have created some drawing paper for you.  Next lesson I think I will talk to you about notan structure.  Wow isn’t that thrilling! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Join our Painting Classes Today at the Clinton

Come on and enjoy our painting classes at the Clinton St Gallery today, Thursday.  Judith Reidy is teaching painting from 4 to 6 pm and Lorin Willey is teaching from 6 to 8:30 pm.  It would be great for you to come on in and see what we are doing.  You will find that we are a great group.

For details see link

Theory Behind the Blind Contour Exercises

This is the theory behind the blind contour exercises; it has to do with how our brains work,  
I will be quoting from Betty Edwards: “Drawing on the Artist Within” beginning at page 10
“The two major modes of human brain-hemisphere function (which I can simply L-mode an R-Mode) were first described by psycho-biologist Roger W Sperry in his pioneering work during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Sperry’s research, which was honored by a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1981, has shown that the right and left hemispheres of the human brain use contrasting method of information processing.  Both thinking modes are involved in high-level information processing.  Both thinking modes are involved in high-level cognitive functioning, but each brain half specializes in its own style of thinking and each has its own special capabilities.  The two modes are able to work in cooperative, complementary way while at the same time retaining their individual styles of thinking. 
Nevertheless, these styles of thinking are fundamentally different and can cause each mode, in a sense, to view reality in its own way.  Thus, in response to an even “out there, “one brain half or the other may “jump in” first to dominate conscious awareness—or, in other instances, the two modes may have different and even conflicting responses to the same event.  In some situation’s one response or the other may be somehow suppressed and kept out of conscious awareness.  A child for example, whose angry mothers says through clenched teeth, “I’m disciplining you because I love you,’ may, as a subconscious protective device, choose to believe the words and deny (at a conscious level) seeing the anger.  On the other hand, conflicting responses to an even may both reach conscious awareness and both views may be expressed in words  For example, someone who has just viewed a televised political speech might say, “The words sound okay, but there’s something about this person that I just don’t like.”
The left hemisphere (for the majority of human beings) specializes in verbal, logical and analytic thinking.  Naming and categorizing are among its favorite things to go. It excels in symbolic abstraction, speech, reading, writing, arithmetic. In general, its system of thought is linear: first things first, second things second.  It tends to rely on general rules to reduce experience to concepts that are compatible with its style of cognition (thinking).  Its preference is for clear, sequential, logical thought, uncomplicated by paradox or ambiguity.  Perhaps because of its bewildering complexity, our culture generally tends to emphasize L-mode thinking, thus funneling complexity down into manageable words, symbols or abstractions and enabling us to cope, more or less with many aspects of modern living……
A good example from everyday life of a task appropriate for L-mode’s style of thinking is balancing your checkbook.  Using words and numbers and following a prescribed procedure, checkbook balancing is a language –based, sequential, linear process. 
At the start, the assumption is made that if you have kept all the records straight, you can expect to end with a valance of $0.00.  If in face you end up with a balance of say $1.06, R-mode (which is not interested in this process) may nudge you with the (unspoken) impulse “let's just erase that and write in $0.00. It doesn’t really matter.” L-mode, however would feel that it does matter and would respond indignantly, “No, no no! I must go back to the beginning and go through the procedure step by step until I find the error.”  L- mode, of course, is the appropriate mode for balancing a check book, as its style of cognition is suited to the task.  R-mode is simply not equipped for this L-mode job, and surely the last thing wanted is creative checkbook balancing. 
In contrast to L-mode, the right half of the brain (for most individuals) functions in a nonverbal manner specializing in visual, special perceptional information.  Its style of processing is nonlinear and nonsequential relying instead on simultaneous processing of incoming information- looking at the whole thing at once.  It tends to see relationships between parts and searches for the ways parts fit together to form wholes.  It s preference is for perceiving information , searching for patterns or relationships that satisfy requirements for visual fit and seeking special order and coherence.  It seems undaunted by ambiguity, complexity or paradox, perhaps because it lacks the ‘reducing glass” of L-mode, which opts for general rules and resists acknowledging ambiguity and paradox.  Because of its quickness, complexity and nonverbal nature, R-mode thinking is almost by definition, difficult to put into words. 
A good example of this is driving on the freeway.   TO PARAPHRASE:  For the L-mode to change lanes it would need to make mathematical calculation with speed of various cars consider per second ratios   Whereas the R-mode, which is intuitively spatially oriented is more suited for the job of changing lanes. 
The two brains do work together and are actually connected by the corpus callosum and form one identity. 
Yet a duality seems to exist.  Some inner knowledge of this duality of the brain seems to be harbored deep in human consciousness, surfacing like an iceberg’s tip, in language itself.  For Example philosophers through the ages have proposed of two ways of knowing the external world, through the intellect and through the emotions: through logical analysis and metaphorical synthesis.  Dichotomous terms (terms in twos) abound: yin and yang, rational and poetic, abstract and concrete, scientific and imaginative.  Individuals often speak of themselves as if two separate personalities existed in tandem: “Part of me wants to do such and such, but on the other hand I know I’m better off doing so and so.” Or “Sometimes I’m really rational and on time, and dependable, but at other times I’m just off the wall.”
I am left-handed so that means I have a more dominant right brain, than most.   In most humans the L-brain has dominance over the R-brain, though both sides of the brain are used.
The creative process and in particular drawing is a special and primarily a non-linear process.  The creative process requires the ability to tap into the R-brain at will.  In other words the artist must learn to control the mental shifts at will in order to tap into the strengths of the R-brain. 

Again I will explain how to proceed with blind contour.  

Now I will explain in specific what is surmised to be going on in your brain when you begin doing blind contour drawing.  For starters you remember I said you must work Slooooooowly, never look at your hand or paper….only look in minute detail of what you are attempting to draw.  Now I am going to give you a time frame. Ten minutes, don’t look at the timer or stop. (you probably don’t have a timer…oh well). (Sic .p146f)    Ignore the protests from the L-mode, that this is “too slow, too boring, too ridiculous, and too useless for words.” Just keep on drawing, and soon the L-Mode will fade away-to take a little time off.  At that point you may find yourself seeing differently.  You may find yourself wanting to see more and then even more.  The information, the complex patterns of tiny edges and lines, may begin to seem strangely intensely interesting. Allow this to happen: this is the shift in vision that I am looking for. 
As you feel yourself entering a somewhat different mood, or state of consciousness, do not resist it.  The R-mode is pleasurable and satisfying; one feels alert interested, self-confident, and concentrated on the task at hand.  Nevertheless some individuals find this mental shift fearful and alarming.  It need not be feared, because the state is so ephemeral, so fragile that the slightest interruption can break the spell or you yourself can easily break the spell if you wish.
What is the fear?  A speculation, partly in jest: L-Mode may fear if you get ‘over there” deeply enough you may not want to “come back.” More seriously, if the fear is one of “losing control” there is nothing to worry about...  When the timer sounds, you will be back all too completely to your “normal” L-mode state  As every creative person knows, the real problem is to sustain the elusive r-mode state long enough to finish the job at hand. 
Now begin to draw.
I hope you can think about and practice your drawing.

If you would like to learn more about classes from Judith Reidy click here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dusk and Day One Place Different time.

  In these two plein Air paintings I am working with two kinds of light.  I fill both are interesting.  I feel that perhaps the light on the bushes might still be to bright for the value in the surroundng area.

What  do you know?
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

So I hear you would like to learn to Draw! Try Blind Contour!

I have heard that you would like to learn to draw.  I have some ideas on how to begin.
I have in mind a kind of drawing that is often overlooked because in the beginning, doing it can feel very awkward and produces hopelessly silly results.  Have you ever heard of “Blind Contour Drawing”.  I have taught it to 1st graders through adults.  It is designed to train the eye mind and the hand to work together.  When a student begins doing it, it feels like trying to play piano without looking at the keys….or typing without looking at the keys only it is worse, because there are no keys just your pencil and the paper.  Another goal in the exercise is to train you eye to observe and for your hand to “feel” every curve or edge with minute attention.  It is best practiced on organic forms like living or dead leaves; living hands, feet and arms; faces; twigs; rumpled bedding.(what ever form that is non-mechanical thought mechanical forms can be attempted).   

  This is how it is done.  First of all you need cheap paper and a pencil or any writing instrument and your hand and eye and a brain.   If you don’t have the first two items (paper and pencil) the first practice stage of this method may still be done if you have a brain and eye and hand( which I will assume you have).  I would have my student look at a plant, and with their finger they would trace the form in the air.    This is to help you get the feel of the shape in your arm movements.  It is part of the training of the eye mind and hand.  After you have done that for a bit, do the same action again, but this time “trace the inner or outer edge/ curve” with the pencil on the paper while keeping your eye ONLY on the object you are tracing.  Do not look down at your paper, no matter how tempting.  If I was there observing you, my ruler would come down on your head if you peeked at your paper!    That being said it is important at this stage to discipline yourself not to peek under any circumstance.   YOU MUST GO VERY SLOWLY, painstakingly slow observing every nook and cranny.    If you follow this to a tee, the result when you are finished at the end of this first try will be horrible and embarrassing.  But now is the test.  Will you persevere in spite of the humiliation?   Because such practice over time breeds unbelievable results.  I don’t know how much of this you need to do, but the longer you do it, the more you will be trained to see and sense more clearly with your eye   and you will feel and express with your hand.  The line in your drawings will become more clean natural and efficient.  Less tentative and scratching.  Next time I write I will explain why and how this technique works in the brain and how this technique of blind contour is modified for other types of drawing such as portraiture.
 See examples here 
And learn about classes to learn more here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fred Bell and I, Judith Reidy Start Paintings at McCarthy Park

 Yesterday it was our first really warm day for 2012.  So as our tradition goes, Fred and I always find a place to paint.  This year it was the north end of McCarty park in West Allis.  We both had a great start on our respective paintings and had a lot of laughs.

You should know that 
Fred Bell
  has his 
opening tonight at the Portrait Gallery.  
It is a great exhibition. 
For details go here.


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Friday, March 09, 2012

Tricky Project in Reading Colors as Values

 Hope you enjoy this tricky project of reading colors as values.

  • Black to White in seven steps
  • Raw Sienna to light 4 steps
  • Raw Sienna and Cad Red Light 4 steps to white
  • Cad Red Light 4 steps to white
  • Burnt Umber in six steps
  • Raw Umber in seven steps

Take a look in Grayscale. 
What do you think? 
  • Is Raw Sienna and Cad Red Lt and the mix of the two actually closest to the third lightest grey?
  • Maybe all the colors in the fourth row are too light for the middle value?  Yes ! 
  • Can the Raw Umber and Burnt Umber  very Lightest  and second lightest be made lighter to match their gray value

Well, back to correcting the values.
Reading colors as values can be tricky
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Saturday, March 03, 2012