Sunday, March 1, 2009

Drawing, and that D which is three:
There is an additional quality a drawing can have, that is form. Form is shown or implied within the outline and gives to the subject the illusion of roundedness or volume. I think form is less instinctual than outline as it seems to be developed later in our drawings.

We have binocular vision, that is we see like the old stereoscope views from two separated points, giving us depth perception. If you have only one working eye, like Maxfield Parrish you don’t. We see in three dimensions but when we draw, we must work in two .We are going to have to start fooling people. When you are fooling people you are employing art. Artifice was the Greek god of deception, not of sincerity. We want to give the illusion of that D which is three on that flat surface Lets examine some of the ploys we will use to do it

. The most convincing form is installed rather than observed in our drawings. We use what is commonly called shading. I laid out in an earlier post the bed bug line and the parts of the light. A sphere would be the result of the effective use of the parts of the light and a dirty disk the result of their misapplication. That’s why I have so stressed the suppression of the halftones in an earlier post. Imposing systematic statements of the parts of the light, more calculated than their general appearance requires decision making. When you start thinking, you are no longer a “meat camera”, you become an artist. The “tuning” of the different relationships of the parts of the light is one example of this.

Another way to enhance the perception of form is the invention of cast shadow to explain a contour and more commonly the omission of a cast shadow to reveal the form. Artists routinely remove cast shadows to avoid chopping up the forms. It is surprising how the viewer seldom misses them.

Some times in figure drawing and very occasionally in landscape an artist uses a trick called “jumping the light”. That is moving the fullness of a form, say a large muscle in a figure, out into the light by moving the shadow away from the light source in order to present the form either more clearly or to present a greater amount of a figure in the light. We will talk more about this in a later post, much later. I mention it now as an example of the manipulations artists take to increase the illusion of volume.

Another manipulation is at the outline itself, the overlapping of the different parts of the outline to describe the interweaving of the different muscles in a figure. Describing the intersections of the limbs in a tree or the recession of the hills in a landscape is another time artists stress this overlapping.

Artists often exaggerate the “plumping” up of of objects to enhance the feeling of roundness. Rubens is an example of this. Bad people with whom you should never associate deride the work of this great artist as “fat women” imagining that Rubens was trying to titillate them and missing, because they prefer another body type. These people are seeing only the subject matter and missing the art. Rubens was actually reveling in the ability to express form and volume consummately well. This was one of the many things that made him so great. He was my favorite painter, some days anyways. Expressing form by decision making rather than by observation is as I said, before art. If you are only appreciating the nineteenth centurys' art because it is more naturalistic looking I urge you to discover Peter Rubens. There is an awful lot to enjoy there that is bawdy, vibrant and deliriously exuberant. His lines writhe and cavort about marvelously. His simple yet deliciously clever step-by-step means of presenting the things in his paintings is a great lesson on how a line drawing is transformed into a painting. Rubens is an artist’s artist. Tomorrow I will return to the subject of form again.

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