Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lesson 2 - About Imitation

Hello everyone!
In this second lesson I want to spend a few words about a basic concept of the classical approach (and therefore of my style). I’m talking about what the ancient Greeks called MIMESIS (μίμησις), a word that we use to translate with “imitation”. 
For a great number of artists, the more a piece of work correctly imitates the nature, the more it can be considered true art.
After all, we somewhat inherited that same vision, since we very often use to say: “it looks real!” when we appreciate a drawing, a painting or a sculpture. 
So, shall we say that something is art, if it just looks “hyper-realistic”? Well, not exactly.  That sort of “perfect imitation”, in fact, has not to be intended as the exact copy, of what we can find in nature, but it’s about imitating the nature, in its whole “creating process”. In other words, we don’t have, e.g., to simply copy a human body, but we should try, to re-create it on our canvas, sheet, or plastic material.
That’s why, understanding proportions and knowing the human anatomy, is essential, because we have to give life to a new creature, even if only a “virtual” one.
Aside that, the final result can be far from being photorealistic, nevertheless our figure will look alive!
A little example: there are two ways of representing a simple blade of grass (as well as a single hair). The non-mimetic one, in which we just copy the shape, regardless to its “nature”; and the mimetic one, in which we know (and follow) the direction where it grows. Both results may look similar, but the second one is also conceptually correct.
About figure drawing, the outline of a body tells us a lot about its nature, because it suggests inner structures and forms, and a very slight variation of the contour, can give life to the whole drawing. So pay attention to those small bulges and depressions, because the strength of your drawing may depend a lot on them.
The cross hatching can be another way to perform our analysis, since we can use it to investigate, and better understand, shapes and volumes. Furthermore, it gives to our work that vibrating look that imitates those slight variations of the light, or those small movements of a living creature, but also the real yet  invisible swarming of cells, atoms and particles.
So the basic idea is to understand the nature and structure of what we are going to represent the best we can. On my blog, you can find a few suggestions about good books on Art Anatomy, but if you feel like studying quantum mechanics, or botanic, or astronomy, just do it: feel free to investigate the reality in such directions, Leonardo Da Vinci would be proud of you!
Happy drawing!
And thanks for watching!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Exercise 2 - Cross Hatching (Transcription)

Hello everyone!
In my first exercise video, I put the basis for the technique of cross hatching.
So, let’s spend a few more words on it!
You can shade your picture in many different ways. The very basic one is just called hatching, or sometimes 45 degrees hatching. The direction of the strokes never changes and the angle is about 45 degrees. Darker tones are obtained overlaying layer upon layer, always striving to obtain a regular texture.
Rough and spaced strokes give your drawing a fresh and sketchy effect, while fine strokes and delicate passages may help you achieve more realistic results. Let’s take a fast look at how it works. The angle of the strokes must be the most comfortable for you, so if you are left-handed, you may want to do it in the opposite way. It actually doesn’t need to be in a particular angle. Feel free to try also other solutions,  e.g. a horizontal, or a vertical hatching. The finest your hatching will be, the most realistic, yet vibrant, your drawing will look.  To put some highlights you can use a kneaded eraser (also known as “putty rubber”), like I always do.
About cross hatching, the basic idea is very simple: just as for the classic hatching, we have to proceed layer by layer, but this time we must change the angle on every pass.
In case of curved surfaces, the hatching can also ideally follow the shape of the drawn object, creating a sort of curved grid.
Shade like you were actually drawing on the real surface of the model.  That’s the reason why the best thing would be to draw from life: because you can observe your model from different angles, understanding shapes and volumes. Furthermore, you can better realize if a dark area is a shadow, or simply a differently colored zone. In any case, try to fully understand what you are going to draw. This is the way I do it.
So, In this exercise, we want to copy a bas relief using the technique of cross hatching.
For optimal results, I suggest you to copy from a black and white sculpture (either a real one, or a photo), because color can be misleading, for now.
Try to capture and reproduce the different shadow tones and, remember: always get to black step by step.
You can look at what I do, but feel free to do everything in a different order.  Just try to work on the picture as a whole; complete it gradually, make it emerge from the sheet, as if you were actually carving a stone.
If you wish you can comment on my blog and post a link to your picture, so everyone can see it... and maybe I can give you a few more tips.
Have a great time with drawing! And thanks for watching!