Three Weeks Down

For those of you who are counting, I’m 1/5th of the way through the first semester. Each semester being 15 weeks. Or, if you prefer, I’m 1/20th of the way though the two years of study, though perhaps that’s not quite accurate, as this is the busiest semester. Really, I suppose, it’s more like (54/180) * (1/5) or 6% of the way through the curriculum. 🙂

Enough silly math. It is quickly becoming apparent that structural drawing is the key to study here. By structural drawing, I am refering to the ability to render any geometric solid conceptually accurately from any point of view, in perspective, with correct shading. In class on Friday, Frank Porcu had us drawing bagels. However, we weren’t drawing esoteric bagels—we were like engineers drawing the diagram of the perfect bagel as if we needed to communicate the concept of “bagel” to some alien civilization without words. For homework the previous week we had drawn 10 perfect cubes in perspective, then 10 cylinders. Cylinders are constructed by first drawing a box to contain the cylinder, then truncating the corners of the box to round the ends. To draw the bagels, we likewise first constructed a bounding box, then four smaller boxes within the larger box at the medial points. Those smaller boxes were truncated to make cylinders, and then the large box was truncated to create a torus shape. Great fun.

I know it sounds sort of odd to think about creating geometric shapes when biomorphic forms are anything but geometric. However, once you can conceptualize the underlying form, it is easy to block in a realistic volume for your subject. If you are good at truncating, you can then refine that mass-conception into a more rounded mass-form. From there it is a simple matter of adding what Frank calls the “lumps and bumps” of the esoteric form to create an accurate representation. As an added bonus, if you know how to render the shadow forms on the underlying mass-conception, it’s that much easier to accurately render the finished form.

In many ways this is the antithesis of the sight-size method. You are not copying what you see so much as understanding what you are drawing and rendering it both conceptually and perceptually. Frank is fond of saying, “It’s half of what you know, and half of what you see.” I love that we are learning this… If you think about it, once the mass-conception is understood, you don’t need a light source or even a model, for that matter. The work can be realistically rendered from imagination. It is exciting to think that in two years’ time, if not before, I’ll be at that level.

I also managed to steal away and visit a couple of the galleries that are within walking distance of the school. One was the Arcadia Gallery, which focuses on figurative art. I have for some time now been operating under the apparent misconception that they also represented Jacob Collins. Oh well—I will still get a chance to see his work in the real while I’m in New York. I understand that he is represented here by a gallery called Adler and Hirsch, though it’s quite a ways away from Tribeca. I was interested in seeing some contemporary works. Paintings in Soho seemed to range from $6,000 to $93,000, with the mean somewhere around $10,000. It still blows my mind to think that people pay that much for original artwork. As I understand it, the cost is usually divided equally between the artist and the gallery.

I’ve got some homework to finish up this weekend. I’m hoping to take some more pictures as well. I did a couple of cast drawings that I’d like to show everyone. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to post some pictures later tomorrow. Cheers.

– Jeremy

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