Drawing Hands

dandelion

Drawing and painting hands can be one of the banes of an artist.  Urgh, she says, as she works intently to make a hand that looks like a hand.  Even drawing this very basic hand was challenging.  The fingers, in relation to one another, folded over the palm.  The palm, the wrist, the forearm.  Not so easy as it might appear in this photo.

I find it interesting that an artist, who draws portraits or any aspect of the human figure, does a study of a particular feature if she wants to improve her craft.  She could spend years, literally, and not have mastered the hand, the eye, the ear!  An artist can decide to render certain features of the face or aspects of the body in an abstract way.  And that’s acceptable too if it fits with the mood of a piece.

Or hands can disappear beneath a fold of fabric, into a pocket, overhead into the ethers or off the edge of the substrate, imagined.  If need be, you can resort to collaging them in if you can make it work.

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Really, though, an artist wants to gain some mastery of hands and that comes with making studies, giving them attention.  At this time, that’s not what I want to give my attention to.

At any given time, we are called, as artists, to sort of follow our bliss or in these precarious times, to sense what the need is.  Artists, poets, writers, musicians have a calling and that seems to be to tend to the times in which they live.  Sometimes, they hold the conscience and the consciousness for their particular generation(s).  In fact, we all do…but artists have a way of tapping into that which begs to be seen and heard.

 

She Has No Name

IntuitivePainting1When I began painting faces, I found it very challenging.  What I painted didn’t resemble the image I had in mind at all!  How my mind and hand translated a photo portrait onto a canvas was juvenile art.  Features–especially matching the eyes–were they the same size, at least close to the same size?  The same shape?  How much space between them? How far down on the face should they be?  Where is the nose in relation to the eyes? And the mouth?  Did I mention mixing a realistic skin tone?  And then, there is value contrast!  Yikes…the map of the face is an art that isn’t easy to master.

Several years of practice has improved my facility to draw a face with some degree of realism.  And, I can see that I need years more of practice before I feel accomplished in this area.  If ever.

And, so, I allow the whimsy that has been part of my artist’s signature.

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I do like the background in this painting.  The soft colors and images that sort of arise from the mist.  I also think about painting over the whole thing and discovering something else.  Remembering that it’s all part of the learning process, I have compassion for my newly formed artist self.  Compassion versus criticism.  Practice versus procrastination.  

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Remember the old adage “Patience is a virtue.”  It really is.  Making art–it can’t be rushed.  It can be…but the depth of what an artist gets from the creative process won’t be reached unless she is patient enough to be fully present with the work in process and with herself (himself).  Any work of art is always an inquiry.  With that, an answer won’t be forced but rather surfaces.

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These days, things are very serious.  I feel it in my body.  It’s easy to forget my body.  To relegate it to last place even though I have more time to tend it.  Yesterday, I came upon this little video by Elizabeth Gilbert.  What I love about it is that there are no words…

And now for something completely different,

LET’S DANCE!

https://www.facebook.com/GilbertLiz/videos/235717154471860/

 

Mistress or Master of None?

You’ve heard this well-used phrase, “jack of all trades and master of none.”  This saying sort of piques me.  Being curious about so many things, I want to pursue every creative avenue that opens before me.

While it is true that Creativity Breeds…CREATIVITY and I appreciate the diversity of ways to be creative, it seems that if I really want to get better at any one thing, I need to spend time with it.  It’s that whole thing about learning a language best through immersion…move in with a family fluent in the language you want to learn.  Three months, they recommend, I’ve heard.

Years ago, I viewed a National Geographic Special, the Living Treasures of Japan.  This film is about Japan’s Living National Treasures…men and women artists who are paid a stipend to perfect their art over their lifetimes!  I remember thinking how brilliant that was. The individual artist (sometimes there were groups of artists that were supported) had the opportunity to develop his/her craft over the course of his/her life–the sword maker, the indigo producer and fabric dyer, the puppet maker, etc.  This was their lifelong field of study!  Imagine that…being paid for your artistic area of expertise throughout your life! (Most of us can only imagine that.)  Here is the link to the National Geographic film.  I found it to be very inspiring!    https://youtu.be/KujoKBGuRsM

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If you aren’t financially supported as you practice your art…you could choose to do a study of something you want to learn.  Stated simply, a study is a chosen immersion to practice a technique or form to help you develop a degree of mastery.   For instance, one online art class assignment was to draw and paint every version of a strawberry that I could imagine, using differing techniques & tools, but with the same theme–strawberry. In looking at these today, I see how each painting evokes a different emotion.

strawberry2

I’ve certainly done this with my writing. Especially when studying a poetic form that was new to me.  Or even the entire summer I spent learning how to make truffles.  No one minded eating my mistakes.

WRITING PROMPT:

Do you admire the way another writer uses descriptive detail in his books?  Or have you been intrigued with how a painter achieves perspective in her landscapes?  Is there some style of writing that takes  your breath away every time?  Or a shading technique that you’ve always been curious about in pencil drawings? Whatever it is, let your curiosity guide you to do your own study of something.   What would it be?  How much time are you willing to commit to this study?  Go for it!

ARTIST TIP:
This type of immersion has great rewards for you as the writer or artist, not to mention a bit of healthy self-pride at sticking with and developing skill in a particular area.

*The above exercise with strawberries is from an online art class presented by artist, Marla Baggetta.