May 10, 2012

Drawing on the Edge: Working in the Zone

I studied figure drawing and painting with Christopher Drake, an excellent artist teaching at The Morean Art Center in the late 1980's, in St Petersburg Florida. He came over once to look at a pastel which I was working on; he pointed to the head and told me that he liked the scribble I had done to create the form. He told me the ability to draw like this is an excellent skill to have and that it is called, drawing on the edge.

 He then explained to me that, drawing on the edge, is when you use a scribble to define a shape. He said not all artists are able do this type of spontaneous drawing and that it has a special interesting vitality to it, which is particularly attractive.
Angel by Salvador Dali
Medium: Blue Ball Point Pen Drawing
Size: 11.25" x 15.25" (double page)
Year: 1974
Salvador Dali comes to mind when I think of wonderful drawings of this nature; especially his figure drawings.

I also love to create a wire form around the figure in those quick early sketches which artists do to warm up in a life drawing session. These early warm up sketches have a vitality or edge to them and have a look that is interesting and pleasing as a work of art.

It is also good to use this style of drawing when you work from life with animals who are moving or have the potential to change position while you are drawing them.

 To do this type of sketch you dance your pencil around the figure quickly defining the inside and outside shape. In this way you get the form drawn quickly while also keeping life like look of the animal. This is especially important when you are drawing an animal in motion. 

A drawing of this nature can often tell more about the animal and its nature than a more studied look. This can also be compared to using fewer words to tell a story.

Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards is a good book to help a student learn how to draw and work in this spontaneous style. For me it was a natural part of my evolution as an artist. I developed this drawing style on my own, when I was a child.

Whether drawing the quick sketch with edge or a detailed painting; I know of the importance of creating energy in my art.  The Chinese call it Chi. Chi energy is considered by the Chinese to be the most important ingredient in a work of art. With Chi energy, you see the artist’s life energy infused into the art work to the point where the work itself takes on a life of its own.  The flow of Chi is created with a state of mind that is as refreshing as it is demanding.  This is the time when the artist feels at one with what she is working on; transcending thought and yet intensely aware. 

Runners and other athletes’ get this feeling when they describe, “being in the zone”.  When the artist is most intense and fully absorbed, she opens herself to this flow of energy. Things happen when you create in this zone. The art has a spontaneity and ease that can open the artist to new levels of expression and power. 

May 2, 2012

Sunset Reflections:: Organ Mountains; Las Cruces, New Mexico

 Oil on Canvas on Birch Plywood Board 12"X16"

I painted this is on a high ridge overlooking the Las Cruces, Organ Mountains. While I was painting it a Vietnam Veteran came by and started talking.  He told me how he recently lost his wife whom he had met in Vietnam while serving over there.  He was headed out west to live in his RV near one of his daughters. We talked about how beautiful the drive west on I-10 is. And he told me how he had planned to take this trip with his wife and now he not only had a bad heart but was grieving the recent and unexpected loss of his wife. He talked about his love for her, his family, and Vietnam.  We then fell silent; two strangers come together, the artist and the soldier, both elders with many years and miles behind us, on our journey to the West, brought together now in silent revere by this majestic setting sun over the Organ Mountains.