Monday, March 2, 2009

Why form matters

I apologize to all of you who are looking for this blog early in the morning" I am on the road and have had a rough time finding Wi-Fi. I will tell you more tomorrow when the rain stops, and I come out from beneath this palmetto.
You may well have experienced training that didn’t emphasize form. There are artists who use purely visual draftsmanship. They set their easel in front of their subject and copy its visual appearance as dutifully as their patience allows. This often creates a problem I call


Drawing without form has all sorts of problems, often the outline of the object is carefully described but the dimensions within are not. A head in a three quarter view doesn’t have the ordered measurement of its increasing distance into space. Unless the structure is built in planar and volumetric construction, the parts all float next to one another but are not placed on the skull.There is a problem with the expression of distance into the tableau. That’s why it is so necessary to understand the structure of the skull when drawing heads..
The structures about the eye are particularly hard to express without knowledge of the forms found there.. Sometimes it will look as if you were to walk around the head there would be nothing to see on the other side. This is an elaborate version of the dirty disk problem from the earlier post. Often a head will not be placed above the body but will hover six inches in front of or behind it. The relationship between the two is indefinably off.
You will need to know the musculature and bony structure of the body when drawing figures in order to describe their form.. I will talk about anatomy in future posts. I mention it here to underline its’ knowledge as essential to the creation of structural form.. You need it to draw the figure. You cannot “see” it into a figure. Remember in the earlier post where I talked about seeing what you know, here’s the great example of this.

In still life painting, this insufficiency presents itself in a number of ways. Objects may seem to float above the table on which they sit. Bowls don’t bulge out at us, that is their protruding sides are no closer to the viewer than their receding edges There is often something unconvincing about ellipses and things with predictable volumes such as an eggs, appear flat and unconvincing. Sometimes there is just something inexplicably “funny” about a painting. It seems to waver in our vision like a blacktop road on a hot day. You can go at the thing day after day and it never gets right. Without an expression of the illusion of physical volume it never will be right. I speak from hard won experience..

Form is not an added problem for you to figure out how to add to your drawing, it is a means of making your drawing., Visual draftsmanship is the ability to interpret a scene by imagining the shapes as being flattened. It is an invaluable skill in expressing the distances across and parallel with the surface of our canvas, or the picture plane. Form is the tool that expresses the distance into space or swelling forward through space, of an object. There is however a another great benefit to understanding of form. With it we can paint things that we cannot see. We can construct figures, without a model (at least in designing a picture) and we can construct things that have never been seen,

1 comment:

Ramon said...

AS you can probably tell from the other comment I left, I recently discovered your blog and have been reading it all through. I greatly appreciate you sharing your views on art, particularly the philosophical groundwork that underlies it all. Much of what you have written concerning form, and the difference between purely perceptual (visual) drawing and the more tactile (form and knowledge based)approach mirrors discussions I've had with some of my teachers in the past. We come from the form based approach and it's nice to know we're not the only ones :)