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City Lit Fine Art Yr 1 Week 1 - Back to Basics

Here begins the City Lit Fine Art course! Been wanting to do this for years and finally here I am. I wanted a more rigorous training that didn't take too much commitment out of weekdays.

Tony Hull is our Drawing instructor for the next few weeks, and a jolly fine tutor he seems to be. Some great exercises today, starting with him placing a big old retro letter 'L' in the room and giving us 5 mins to draw it, (about the size of our hand) then placing something else on top, 3 mins to draw that, then another object on top of that, etc. Aims were not to be precious, disregard perfection, just get the lines down on paper in CHARCOAL!. These were 2 large A1s that we'd taped together (not overlapping) and put on our boards. Just lines, no tones, no details.

After that he knocked over the tower and let things land where they landed! At this point we had to all rub out our charcoal drawing of the tower, leaving the ghosts of the previous lines, which add character to our drawing, and draw the newly-laid out objects all over again. My early effort is pictured on the right. And you can see the ghosting of the first tower we drew. Not pleased with this at all, but it was only a very quick warm up exercise.

One good idea was to take photos of the work as we progressed, to create a sort of animation to show our development. I use O-Snap on my iphone anyway to create animations or timelapses, which is incredibly easy, although it does take up a lot of room on the memory !

At this stage it's all about not being precious, and about being comfortable with change. So we had to start to draw again, and this time everyone was allowed periodically to go and find another object from the box and place it wherever we wanted, for our own benefit. This helps your drawing to build incrementally , so you are not overwhelmed in the beginning.

We then walked around the room, (and we did this periodically throughout the day) to see what everyone else was doing. At first I thought the standard was way above mine but then I decided not to make those kind of judgments as it's not really helpful and we are all coming from different places.

After that, Tony spoke and demo'd on someone's work, - which was immensely helpful. I made an audio recording to remember later.

Basically the key things to know are about:

a) treat negative spaces just like positive things, they can really help the drawing because you map the shape , whereas often with say drawing a jug, because you know it's a jug you might draw it a certain way and guess, and your eye gets lazy, but if you are just mapping a shape, you are less likely to make costly mistakes.

b) How to measure. This is the bit that could take me ages and ages if I were being pedantic, and perfectionist, so here's what you do: find your length or line which you are happy with - I chose one of the vertical strokes of my big 3d L letter, and measure that (with arm straight and eye squinting) with your brush (not your charcoal piece - mine broke and screwed everything) so that the next few things you measure are referenced against that. It's about getting everything in right in proportion to that first thing you measured. And basically, you carry on like this throughout, and you could even introduce a system of ticks against objects to help you remember which objects you think you have in proportion.

Once I had a few objects properly redrawn and measured up against the first L shape, I suddenly felt much more confident. I had managed to draw everything WAY too big the first time round, and of course drawing a foreshortened object by eye is bound to result in total misreading of it, so I was astounded and shocked to see how much shorter my L's body was once I had corrected by measuring against other reference points. Hurrah! I've cracked it!!! I thought.

But then Tony came along and whilst complimenting the work so far he also managed to spot a few differences - but only tiny ones- in lengths and widths here and there. That's ok, as I felt I had drastically had a revelationary epiphany anyway by that point and it was really exciting.

After that we furthered them a bit more - I never got to the left hand side of my drawing but I did mean to, but it was only because there was a small iron and a bell that I hadn't had enough time to draw yet. We all critiqued eachother's drawings.

One of the things I need to emphasise here is the palimpsest drawing, the ghosting, the constant rubbing out one is doing which creates interest and movement and a sense of development and progression. Even the horizontal and vertical lines drawn add to the piece.


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