A drawing of Homeric proportions….

ImageI thought this title was a bit more clever than my second option: “D’Oh!”. I’m back at the Academy for the summer session and I could not be happier. The Homer Bargue that I began at home was finished last week. I think it turned out pretty well. It is amazing what one can forgot about the drawing process when he works in relative isolation. I have a tendency, when drawing from these images (and probably when I’m just drawing in general), to fall into the common habit of focusing too early on details rather than on big shapes. “Details” and “big shapes” can be deceptive descriptors since anything you are drawing exists on a sliding scale with these terms on either end. Kind of…. The biggest shapes are always big shapes but the rest is relative. The challenge I find myself in with some regularity (read: every time I draw) is that I get so focused on the excitement of the subtle details that I lose the big shape relationships. No amount of subtle, exquisite, virtuoso attention to detail will make a drawing good if the big parts don’t relate to each other properly. The Homer drawing reminded me of that. Actually, It was the instructors and the Maestro that reminded me of this. I’m glad I didn’t finish the drawing at home. It would not have been as successful as it is if not for the critical analysis of a few pairs of eyes. There are a few things that always amaze me about this type of drawing. The first is that your senses, in this case sight, are incredibly fallible. The thing about sight or any of the other senses, is that they require a complex dance between the thing taking in the info (e.g. your eyes) and the thing that interprets that info (your brain). Don’t even get me started on how your brain deals with this information. The brain has a mind of its own. (That sounds like a pun but sometimes thinking about how you understand the things around you almost convinces you of having a split personality.) In short, you senses are unreliable and so is the brain that puts it all together. You can spend all day visually measuring, sighting, and comparing lines and shapes and be absolutely confident that you have everything right… until someone else takes a look at your drawing. They have different eyes, a different brain, different experiences…..a lot of variables and qualities that you don’t have (Don’t worry. It’s not a value judgement. You see differently than they do. The important word here is “different”. Different, not better.) However, when you have yourself convinced, or should I say, your brain has you convinced, that you have everything right it is a little disheartening to have a new set of eyes point out where things need to be corrected. It’s important to remember, as I so frequently don’t, that your brain cannot get it all right all at once. The brain just does not work like that. The first lines you make will not survive to the final drawing. These misperceptions are not mistakes or failures. They are the first furtive steps toward an excellent drawing. Drawing is best described as a long series of revisions. Is it laborious? Yes. Is it time consuming? Yes. Will you draw for several hours a day and then spend the next two days “fixing” all of your previously perfect lines and shapes? Trust me. You can bet the family farm on that. Will you step back after a couple of weeks and see an image that makes you grin with a little pride mixed with disbelief that you made this thing with your own two hands? I guarantee it. To be clear: you make beautifully crafted images with a piece of paper and a burnt stick (that’s charcoal, friends). That’s it. That’s magical.

Just remember to always step back and check those big relationships. The big picture makes the picture.

I’ve had some really great experiences here besides the drawing. Just as an aside I present this little green fellow. I stepped outside to sharpen my Lizardcharcoal and this little fellow was scurrying about. I carefully tried to get a couple of pictures of him, worried that he would run off or the image would be bad. As luck (or fate) would have it, on the last shot he decide to stay still and turn his head to the camera for a nice little portrait. We don’t have these little lizards up north where I’m from. He has a striking green color. The only disappointment was that when he stretched out his dewlap it was pink between the scales. I wasn’t able to get a shot of that. I named him Godzilla.

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~ by Kelson Barber on July 19, 2013.

One Response to “A drawing of Homeric proportions….”

  1. I was afraid you were going to bring that little green guy home with you. I printed out this fellow above and Hannah took him home to put on her wall.
    Have fun and enjoy every minute.

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