ABOUT THIS CLASS
Drawing From Life is a drawing course which uses spatial visualization to interpret volumetric form and applies it to drawing the human figure. Although the figure is its emphasis, the course is less a survey of anatomy and more about the psychology of seeing, what Da Vinci refers to as saper vedere : knowing how to see. It is about data transfer and communication, and how the artist can transcribe their expression into a visual reality that others can engage with. These strategies all contribute to the creation of a cognitive model that is then refined with anatomical as well as mechanical data. This cognitive model in its most developed form is a volumetric manikin figure, similar to a holograph, which is quite literally projected from the artist’s mind onto the paper via their visualization skills. Equipped with this spatial visualization tool, the student can apply anatomical information as it is learned, the manikin visualization updating itself every time one draws. In this sense the artist is visualizing a cognitive manikin that is a kind of template the artist uses to draw on top of. As proficiency is attained, the artist can visualize and draw the volumetric manikin similar to the way the model is posed and then “ghost “ the image by dusting away most of the charcoal to reveal only the faint image of the manikin. The ghost image then functions as a template onto which the artist can apply anatomical knowledge or areas of tone. Over time this preliminary ghost image will become irrelevant as the artist’s proficiency increases and the template is no longer needed, thereby creating a supremely economic and magical technique.
This drawing course introduces and integrates into the drawing workflow the application of a conceptual light model that follows natural optical laws, and serves to reveal the geometry of volumes in space. This model is based on the concept of the five planes of light as well as optical light theory and behavior. Understanding how the light model works creates for the student another tool at their disposal to reveal form-the use of cast shadow as a way to describe the occupancy of space.
The Canon of Polycleitus is used to illustrate how external forces can alter the shape of the figure and how there occurs a proportional diminution called commensurability that gives the figure grace and movement as well as pleasing proportions. What tantalizing few snippets of the Canon that have survived in the work of Pausanias and Pliny, they describe the knowledge of a sculptor in his workshop and can be construed to pertain to the gesture, balance, and accuracy of the sculptures his atelier produced at that time. In particular it is the freestanding marble figure of his Doryphores ( the spear carrier) that epitomized his teaching as being a demonstration of all the concepts in the Canon. Polycleitus is said to have declared that rhythmos: ( gesture and rhythm), isonomia: (the gravitational vector), and symmetria: (the bilateral symmetry of the human figure) are the precepts of his Canon and that commensurability (of many numbers) is in fact a workshop technique devised by Polycleitus,
Evidenced by what appears to be a series of knots on a rope, the intervals between which represented the proportions of the head, torso, limbs and extremities. This rope device was a measuring tool that represented to the workshop a set of specs that was followed as a standard. These three Canon precepts could be considered to be the equivalency of physical effectors that animate the manikin. Surprisingly, this manikin visualization and canon precepts are very similar to CGI 3D modeling applications in that the cognitive visualization of the manikin emulates how a computer creates a wireframe model in a virtual dimensional world and then applies real world physical effectors such as gravity, symmetry and motion to this model in order to animate it over time.
Expertise in technique: the cognitive psycho-motor manipulation of the charcoal and pastel, depends a lot on experience and will become more familiar the more the student practices. However, great facility with the media actually seems to be more closely linked to how clear the intention of the artist is. As two handed drawing exercises have proven, (an exercise where the class draws from the model while drawing with each hand simultaneously): eloquence does not necessarily depend on skillfulness. This component of the course introduces the materials to the artist and shows how experimentation, even within the defined parameters of the course can quickly lead to a personal vision.
Suitable for all levels; no experience necessary! Ages 16+
Thursdays, 9 AM–12 Noon
$200/4 consecutive classes ($160 tuition + $40 model fee). Students may register at any time.
In an effort to maintain our non-toxic environment, the Woodstock School of Art does not permit the use of turpentine or mineral spirits in the painting studios. Additionally, please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, or scents of any kind. Learn more.
Those with special needs and/or requests may email the registrar.
The school does not provide lunch or refreshments.