Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Semester 2 at TMHS and Drawing classes are not offered again until next year. Ms Ridgway now teaches 2 Painting 1 classes and a MixedMedia class! For the first month, Mixed Media students practiced painting techniques and media, too.

Painting can be much like drawing, but students must get familiar with liquid media. New properties of flow, brush shape, and absorption.

We started out celebrating Chinese New Year with a round brush and black india ink!  We practiced a thick-to-thin line, with a dark and light side in the same brushstroke. Learning to load a brush with different values lets the brush and the paint do the shading work for us, so we can develop form more naturally in this new liquid medium. We loaded brushes with 2 colors for a second shot at our Dragon painting techniques and marveled at the subtle 3-D qualities we could achieve. We even created the illusion of serpentine segmentation with a stutter in our stroke making cross-contour shadows. Its difficult for some students to let go of old Drawing habits that have been so successful for them in the past, but very rewarding once the transition is made.  In these dragons we also practiced masking the talons as we painted a ball right over them, then peeld off the masking tape. We printed our brushes in circles to create 2 colored flowers, and we struggled with the ever-present problem-solving issue of how to unify new wet paint into dry when we "applied" the dragon heads. Some students tried rewetting the reversible tempera paint to work the 2 parts together; some used thinner, more intense lines to mask the joint with flowing mane hair, beards, horns and antennae - These are all part of a classic asian dragon.

We followed the dragons with a snow-inspired landscape. After 2 snow-days the trees outside our beautiful TMHS windows were inundated with heavy snow and everything was covered with white - All the color in the world seemed to be swallowed up.  Perfect time to practice painting from observation, watering down our paint for translucent atmospheric perspective effects, and to practice a few handy brush tricks.
These landscapes were completed with white tempera on manila paper. Black was discouraged - only allowed in the very end, mixed with lots of water, to bump-up a little contrast in the foreground. Things far away tend to look less intense. Our strongest lights and darks are always on our foremost plane. But snow reflects SO much LIGHT form the sky that more horizontal planes of snow, like on the ground, or on a roof-top are even lighter than snow right before us, sometimes!

Monday, February 27, 2012

 Let's show off some of the things Drawing 1 students completed over Fall Semester!

After reversing our drawing approach from black charcoal on white paper, to white chalk on black paper, we were ready to understand how using color is much like "painting with light." Look at some of these fantastic studies done from flowers in direct lighting from observation! Students first played with colors in a "plaid" design on black to help them think about which colors came forward and which receded when juxtaposed or overlapped.

Then, they chose a limited palette - it did not have to be based on reality, though some students carefully chose their "plaid color palette" colors to match the diversity they observed in their subject, so their drawings look more realistic. Other students chose colors for emotional effect - harmonious colors for a calm effect, complimentary for contrast or discord, or even colors based on the emotions the colors themselves might evoke - like, warm colors for a sunny effect, or green for vitality and rejuvenation.
The results after 2 solid drawing from observation periods was impressive!

After the art show, where each student identified a piece they learned from, and what they will try differently next time they draw with color, we took Winter Break!

Upon return we spent a week studying the human form, posing for each other, doing 1-5 minute gesture drawings, then checking them for proportion and places that required foreshortening. We polished up our favorite gesture drawings, then moved on to portraits.
We learned about human body and facial proportions from some of the following references:
Also see Paul Leveille'sDec 2010 "Focus on Features" article,; and Rudy deReynes 1972 "How to Draw What You See"pg. 105. We "measured" what we learned on portraits from examples in the annual BP Portrait Competition, and from a copy of Lucien Freud's oil-painted self-portrait of 1922, on the National Portrait Gallery websight.  Here're are some of the few student samples left behind after the frantic locker clean-out second week of January:

This final exam was a take-home test - students had over 1 week to complete it, they were encouraged to ask their peers for help, and to look through their sketchbooks and other resources in the room to help them summarize all we learned over the semester, and prove it with the best score possible.