Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A memo on Drawing (after a semester's drawing experience )

By a semester of drawing, I have had some thoughts on this art. I think drawing from observation has two aspects: Composition and Texture. Concerning composition, I mean both the composition within every independent object and the organization of these objects. And the composition within independent object is the basic of a larger drawing (like a landscape drawing). And this part is what I, a beginner, majorly focus on in my sketches. Plainly speaking, the first thing to draw is an accurate shape of single object. For shape is so critical, negative space drawing has that as the only expressive element, and our first practices are study drawing of objects with no values. The only way to draw shapes accurately is practicing. An important point is that, do not use pencil or ruler to measure too frequently after the very beginning stage of drawing. Essentially, accuracy is not about calculation but perception. It is the result of training of our eyes. Especially, the eyes need training (by practicing through error and trial) a lot for drawing from observing real objects than photographs because our brain naturally adjust out perception to be three dimensional while a drawing is something of two dimension. It is, however, unnecessary to really apply knowledge of perspective and calculate ratio and angles. The method is at once inefficient and it would make things rigid. More importantly, that does not help in training out eyes. I think it is a basic ability to discern accurately with mere act of looking. 
As for organizing objects, I think we should also practice through trial and error. It is generally helpful to draw sketch and adjust objects to different places and see the effect. However, practicing is not the single way to improve organization of objects. I think it helps to get command of some basic principles of aesthetics, like balance of tension on the paper. I think looking at other drawing, and paintings, is the ultimate way to develop our conception of aesthetics. Of course, in the beginning of a project, the first thing to consider is what narratives I’m going to engage. Narratives decide on the first place the organization of single objects. 
It is largely correct to understand composition as the linings, and texture is then about values and shadings. The very first issue I identified in values is about the tradeoff between color and light. For example, I can face decisions like whether I add darker value to a purple dress under the sun than to a white brick in the shade. The problem is not there if I draw from a B&W photograph. So one of the solution is to take a black and white photos and see the difference of the values. In other cases, I think light is in priority than color in adding values, for color is really something secondary in single color drawing. and it is the expression of light that makes the drawing feels to have depth. 
It is also interesting to experiment with materials to convey different texture. For example, the use of different type of erasers can create textures with different level of smoothness/ coarseness. It can also be useful to pre-treat the paper to make special effect. 
One last thing I want to talk about is detail. Details can make a drawing feel totally different from one lacking in details. it is not just improvement of single portion of a drawing, but the wholeness of the drawing will be improved. Also, details give more information, which will definitely contribute to the fullness of every narrative. And it is the details that make the act of drawing and the drawings interesting.

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