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« Wax Paper and Ribbon: Session 2 | Main | VIDEO DEMO: Wax Paper II »

Wax Paper and Ribbon: Session 1

Wax Paper and Ribbon
preliminary drawing
graphite on panel

I've started a new painting, this is the drawing I've done directly on the prepared wood panel.

I've been taught to do the drawing on paper first, but I've found that when I transfer (trace) my contour drawing to the panel, too much is lost. My linework is degraded so much that I have to spend a lot of time correcting on the panel anyway. So now I draw directly on the panel from start to finish.

The drawing lessons I learned from Juliette Aristides, Ted Seth Jacobs, and Tim Stotz are what I think about most while I draw.

First I rely on the block-in method as taught to me by Juliette. I use long, straight lines to find the major "tilts" of the contours - I try to make just 4-5 lines at first to summarize the entire composition, being as accurate I can with the overall tilts.

Then I break down these straight lines into smaller segments, and compare the drawing constantly to what I see in life, until I have a straight-line block-in that I feel captures the overall proportions and feeling of the composition. The block-in has to have the strength and harmony I see in life... if it doesn't I'm not done with it yet.

When I am happy with the block-in, I gradually switch to a more detailed contour, based on Ted's and Tim's methodologies. I think first about movement - looking for large, curving lines of energy and movement throughout out the composition. I watch for movement lines that flow through the entire setup, and look for "events" (folds, shadows, structures) happening along those lines.

Our natural inclination as humans is to simplify and straighten and align, so I constantly fight against those tendencies. Weird shapes are hard to conceptualize and something twisted and tilted inevitably ends up smoothed and straightened when we try to understand it. The key is to make shapes as unusual and specific as they are in life. As Ted says, "draw a portrait of every shape". I like that... a portrait is specific and unique, not generalized or simplified.

The other thing I do is "check the feeling" a lot. I stop drawing and ask myself, how does it feel? If the subject feels warped, crumpled, leaning or twisted, does my drawing feel the same? Feelings say a lot. I want drama and energy in my drawing, and I feel drama and energy when I see the light filtered through a twisted and crumpled piece of translucent paper. My painting will never be successful if I don't capture that feeling.

Next session I'll spend time refining the drawing further, and maybe move on to the first layer of the underpainting. If you are interested in seeing this painting progress, please subscribe to my blog for updates by entering your email address in the right column.

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Reader Comments (3)

I like how the paper is all twisty and Lord-Byron-ey, while the dish is very stable, supporting it.

August 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSpatula

I'm a little late commenting on this post Sadie, sorry. I've finally put aside a bit of time to have a good look over your blog this morning. I love these time lapse videos.

What pompted me to comment on this post is your quote from Ted Seth Jacobs: "draw a portrait of every shape." It immediately struck a chord of recognition with me. I've just spent the last 3 days drawing out that iron painting and it struck me time and time again whilst working on the cloth that I was unconsciously straightening the shapes. I tried to stop myself doing it by attempting to get the individual character of each shape. I think that's very closely related to what you've said here.

I find what you say about looking for the flow of shapes within the composition very interesting too. I'll try to bear that in mind more.

Wonderful blog Sadie, thanks.


August 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul F

Hi Spatula - Thanks, the contrast of the forms is exactly what I am going for. Without the more solid objects to ground the composition, the twisty crumpled paper has no scale. The solid objects mean I can't "cheat" the drawing either - no one knows if the paper is drawn slightly wrong, but it's obvious if the platter is lopsided!

Hi Paul, thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog, I really have loved following yours. Yes, Ted's "portrait of every shape" is one of many things he taught me that will stay with me forever. It's amazing our tendency to straighten and simplify. Nature is weird, much weirder than our brains are comfortable with.

The "flow of shapes" is what Tim Stotz (Ted's student) calls "lines of inner movement". He taught them to me in terms of figure drawing, but I soon found they apply to trees as well, and then I found it applies to everything with organic structure, and makes a much more resonant, strong drawing.

I'll write a whole post on it someday.

Thanks again for looking over my blog, happy painting to you both!


August 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSadie Jernigan Valeri
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