open studio figure drawing workshop @ J Sargeant Reynolds

I got this far with it in 20 minutes.

I got this far with it in 20 minutes.

When I picked up their flyer, one thing made me like them before I met them. The flyer says, ” Participants are free to work on whatever they like during the sessions, allowing total artistic freedom.”  I said YES! I LIKE THAT SPIRIT!!

I always took charcoal and paper to figure drawing in the past, but sometimes you read where oil paint is forbidden because of the toxic fumes, which makes me laugh, because I like the smell of oil paint and Maroger Medium.  Anyway, charcoal is easier to work with, but if there’s restrictions, I’m not interested in going.

Now that I’m looking at this drawing, I can see places that don’t look right, but it’s just practice. Sometimes you get a sketch you can use later. Sometimes you can’t get the good view of the model or the good lighting. Sometimes the model can’t stand still. This time the model was good and seemed graceful. It wasn’t too hot in there, and not too crowded, so I could move around. I’ll try to keep with this group, but it only meets once a month.

Now, the next step, if you want to get serious about drawing, is to check if you have the anatomy and proportions correct. You need to open up the old human anatomy for the artist book and look at the pictures. Lay a piece of tracing paper over your figure drawing and draw in the bones and muscles on the tracing paper, according to how they look in the anatomy book. Then, label your tracing paper with the names of the bones and muscles, so you can remember them. That was our homework at YAA.  I don’t want to do it, but that’s how we learned. It was difficult and Tom Wise kept us at it every week for 3 years. And yet, no matter how much you practice, there’s always room for improvement. This is my best sketch out of 7 or 8 I did today.


The Mummy’s Missing Penis / charcoal

This is a subject of concern for many of our readers.

This is a subject of concern for many of our readers.

I need a bigger sketchbook.

People are asking for more info about the mummy’s missing penis, and I don’t know. I’m not going back to the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.  And I’m not looking it up either.

Can someone tell me if that mutilated horror is still there frightening ladies, children and our foreign visitors?

This is what I heard. There’s a penis museum in Iceland. And the mummy’s penis might be there. I hope they get it back on the dead guy because I feel sorry for him. And maybe they can find his missing fingers too.

What do you think of this sketch for a large scale postmodern minimalist painting? I could do it 4′ x 8′. I bet the jurors would love it! Because that’s the kind of crap that wins the prize money. Then I’d have to think up a statement that sounds intellectual but is really meaningless. Did you ever notice with postmodern art, the pomposity of the art statement is inversely proportional to the quality of the work?

The Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist and Horse Anatomy, a coloring book

This is what I learned in art school and what I want to learn now.

This is what I learned in art school and what I want to learn now.

At York Academy of Art, they wanted us to draw and paint in the ways of the old masters. These are important things from the old school:

#1 Anyone can learn to draw at any time in life. It’s like a musical instrument. You can do it if you practice.

#2 The difference between average artists and great artists is drawing skill. The great artists practice drawing so they have better skill.

#3 The figure is the hardest thing to draw. If you can draw the figure you can draw anything. To draw the figure well you have to study anatomy. To paint a good portrait you have to draw skulls.

#4 If you trace from a photo your drawing skill won’t improve. If you paint a portrait from a traced photo it will come out looking flat and lifeless. So if you really want to learn to draw, put the camera away.

Does that sound like tough talk to you? I thought it was. That’s how it was at York Academy of Art. I rebelled. I said, “I don’t feel like drawing, I want to do sculpture.” But it was an intense program and I learned despite myself.

At YAA we went through this whole book copying all the illustrations and memorizing the names of the bones and muscles. It’s to teach you the sizes and shapes that make up the volume of the figure. And how the figure moves.

Twice a week we had figure drawing with a live model. We had to put a piece of tracing paper over our figure drawing and draw the bones and muscles on the tracing paper to check what we drew.

Plus we had another drawing class every week besides figure drawing.

I filed the info in the back of my mind for many years and started working on it again about 15 years ago. When I was younger I probably didn’t have the time or self discipline to do it. One subject I always liked is a horse. They’re not easy for me to draw. So I was excited when I found this horse anatomy coloring book in the gift shop on Assateague Island. I know it’s a kid thing, but if I do the same exercises using the horse anatomy book it will help improve my drawing. So that’s my plan this winter, because the weather is too dreary to paint outside.

Amor Forgiven / Venus and Cupid / Prosper d’ Epinay

marble 1888

marble 1888

Cupid was Venus’ baby, and a naughty boy. Always shooting those love arrows into people who weren’t a good match for different reasons. And Venus herself broke the rule about the gods and goddesses not interfering in the affairs of mortals when she promised Paris the love of the most beautiful woman in the world if Paris would pick her as the most beautiful goddess. Paris gave the golden apple that was the prize to Venus and she gave Paris the love of Helen of Troy. Helen was married to the prince of Troy and when she ran away with Paris it started the Trojan War. Plus, remember the stories of how Zeus changed his appearance to disguise himself as an animal in order to seduce some woman, man or nymph? All of the gods and goddesses broke the rule. So how could Venus stay mad at Cupid for messing up people’s lives? She couldn’t stay mad at him. Cupid was just too durn cute!

Civil War Soldiers by Ron Tunison / bronze

battlefield debriefing follows

battlefield debriefing follows

I scouted the battlefield at Pamplin Historical Park and National Museum to Civil War Soldiers at Petersburg VA. This sculpture is at the entrance. The bronze is inscribed with the words “My thoughts are with you at home, but my duty lies here with cause and comrads.”

The figure on the left has so much character in his face.

I was talking to a man who works there and he told me Ron Tunison died this past year. He said Tunison had a part as an extra in the “Gettysburg” movie and he had that uniform and beard for the movie.

If you are interested in history this place is a “must see”. Plan on giving it more than 1 day. They have some great old buildings from the era, besides the museum buildings full of history. They have earthworks and trails, reenactments and other educational happenings going all the time.

It’s inspirational. I’m going back when the weather breaks.

Actor’s Memorial to Poe by Richard Henry Park

marble and bronze 1885

marble and bronze

My photo doesn’t do her justice. She’s just beautiful!
It was commissioned by Edwin Booth, president of the Actor’s Guild of New York. Edwin was the brother of John Wilkes Booth who killed Abraham Lincoln. It was originally at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

I wish I was a better writer so I could tell you how great the Poe Museum is. Here’s a short list of things of interest there : history (too much to learn in one visit), poetry, literature, stories of love, sadness, mystery, scary, architecture, fine art, Unhappy Hour, music

Check it out!

Edgar Allan Poe / graphite / finished drawing

I've always loved him.  (sigh)

I’ve always loved him.

Yeah, I heard he was hard to get along with. I’d still like to take him home and sew his buttons on and straighten his tie and comb his hair and make him happy. 😉 Oh well, he’s dead, but still alive in the hearts of millions.

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