Still life drawing And small objects. Still, life has dramatically admired as one of the most complex, lasting, and powerful art genres. Still-life drawing can also be a powerful learning experience for artists of all skill levels. Often favored as a subject for observational drawing, the genre presents aspiring artists with many challenges. It also invites any number of focuses. Drawing even a simple arrangement of objects can teach us countless things about how images work.
Many of those lessons are granted in a range of plans students complete in a drawing class prepared by Janice Pittsley, University School of Art teacher. The course, which includes observational drawing, includes various still-life-oriented tasks. These assignments highlight different aspects of the imaging process; they also encourage artists to see their surroundings in new ways.
Bringing the vision to the table
I think it is necessary for any painting scholar at any level to recognize that they require to look at the universe around them, not just the scene but also the secret. I think still life drawing is a position for this: looking at seemingly simple things, focusing intensely, and finding something meaningful. Looking at everyday objects or a shell and seeing their ripples, complexities, and holes can teach you a lot about the season, for example. And I require my students to discover that they can be anyplace and obtain something meaningful. It is not just the subject that will make a work of art make sense, but the thought and vision that the artist gives us.
To better understand the many ways still, a life drawing can improve skills, let’s review five projects from this course, accompanied by impressive student artwork. Each assignment offers different practical lessons for each artist to gain a deeper understanding of mechanics and lasting drawing lessons.
Find beauty in everyday life
A task called Bits and Pieces asks students to collect the kinds of objects we see everywhere but rarely think of sticks, leaves, bottle caps, receipts. Students collect natural and artificial things and arrange them as a bas-relief still life with a geometric or symmetrical composition that balances the most active focal areas with passages of negative space. Throughout several class sessions, students draw their configurations using graphite or carbon.
Organic versus artificial
Compositionally, says Pittsley, the task teaches the underlying geometry, which is the armor that holds things together in a composition. Students also appreciate the differences between organic objects and the more regular and symmetrical shapes of manufactured objects. In terms of topic, adds Pittsley, the task reminds us that we must accept both what comes from the actual world and what occurs from the built environment.
Patience is a virtue
In addition to these formal lessons, drawing also encourages reflection. The general lesson of this task is patience: slow down and look very, very carefully at things that would otherwise overlook, says Pittsley. Note that this could also consider a countercultural activity; find students who embrace design and the liberty to slow down and unplug. In a way, the drawing workshop is a resource from some of the distractions and overloads almost demanded of this generation. Students seem to enjoy spending time on something, concentrating on it for hours, and doing it well. They take it very seriously; Eventually, I need to tell you that it’s time to move on.
Dramatic form and space
Still, Life asks artists to place a series of objects in a horizontal composition that enhances an exciting feeling of light, space, and style. Next, students draw the things in chiaroscuro, with a strong contrast between the lighted and shaded sides. It is a highly observational cheetah drawing, and the lessons are primarily formal and technical. Light and shadow are a crucial part of the language of painting and drawing that students must learn and practice.
The drawing is primarily for observation but requires artists. To exercise your imagination. The moving light in the designs is not what the exhibits looked like in Life; the light was much more ambient for most students. Artists have to use their creativity to expand and generate a sense of drama.
The texture of light and dark
The Embedded Object project focuses on the part of the pictorial plane that is often overlooked: the space circling a thing. With this project, students build two drawings of the everyday item, one in graphite and charcoal. They draw the thing as if it were fixed or continuous with the surrounding field. In graphite drawing, the object is designed to appear as if it floats weightless in a shiny space. In the charcoal drawing, the thing is placed in a dark, dense area.
Among the many lessons that can learn from this exercise are figure and ground fluidity. For most of us, if we are given an object, our comfort zone is to draw it dark in a bright field. We often don’t include information on the ground or in negative space. This project requires you to draw both the figure and the background and incorporate the thing into that space, moving items up and expecting you to accept both the positive and the negative.
Another significant feature of this project is materiality, continues Pittsley. Most of us tend to draw pale and smooth or heavier and darker. This project addresses both sensitivities and forces you to stretch and use whichever method you are least comfortable with. This attention to materiality also has countercultural foundations. It is not virtual. It is very present. There is dust, debris, chips, and clutter, and relevance is essential to the process.
Observation meets imagination
The hybrid design project asks artists to invent an object that is a part of the plant, part animal, and part artificial. This invention is then drawn in a dark space using chiaroscuro lights and gradient effects to blur the dark side of the object. Hopefully, embedded in this project, there is a dynamic combination of the ability to imagine things and create them. As I tell my students, anyone can create something, but experts have the tools and experience to make it. So the mixture is an exercise in original reason and creative application of skills. It is also a lesson in surrealism, and we study how contemporary surrealists and artists approached these concepts.
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