|November 14th, 2001
Hi all, in today's Communiqué:
1) Does the format of the book make sense?
2) A drawing site with a free download - and one of the most simplified and insightful
lessons on composition I've ever read
1) A member, I don't even recall who, made a statement a couple weeks ago that
made me rethink something and make me decide that maybe today I'd review
the overall system behind the YouCanDraw approach.
Here we go
In general the idea's real simple: there's three parts. Part I is the foundation's
of drawing. In Part II we start gearing our focus towards applying what
we learned in the foundation lessons towards simple (bur ever more complex
versions) of the facial features and shapes of the head.
Then in Part III, you start seeing what makes a caricature work. And as you get
towards the third example in Part III, we start getting pretty dang detail-intense.
What was the question?
But what was that question? It was a long the lines of "but then I got to the
first section of the features - noses (or ears) - I didn't get it". I wasn't sure at first
what she meant "didn't get it". Then I started thinking - some fragment of
our conversation resurfaced that suggested she just jumped right into on the
facial features. Which is fine - except if you don't have the basics at least fairly
clear in your mind it's not going to make sense.
So, let's look at this from the top
Part I: the foundation lessons. The goal here is two fold: one) learn how to
get into your "right brain", your artistic brain, your in-the-now, open-to-the-
information as-it-comes-in-through-your-senses brain. Learning to access this
is the "Zen" part of drawing - and the key to drawing anything.
Secondly - the foundation lessons are there to familiarize you to the five skills
of drawing. Those are recognizing and accurately recording (ie drawing):
1) lines and edges,
2) spaces - (positive forms and negative space),
3) proportion & perspective (recognizing and relating angles),
4) Light and shadow and,
5) the "gestalt" of seeing it all as a whole before you draw it
All the lessons are designed to lull and pull you, even trick you into using
your in-the-now drawing mind while you add notches to your drawing skills.
Lessons 1, 2 and 3 use "vase face" drawings, monster and "funky" faces
and "upside down" drawings to get you started. Click on this link to see
eighteen short new exercises added to Lesson 2:
Lessons 4 and 5 walk you through pure contour and modified pure contour
-which pull you ever deeper into "R-mode".
Lesson 6 introduces you to the idea of negative space: the shapes that
exist around any solid object you're trying to draw. An illustration? Sure.
Picture a horse running across the great plains. Picture the horse as
running away from you as get ready to snap a shot with your Kodak -
your'e on ground level with it.
The "negative space" in this or any scene is anything you can't put your hands
on. What can't you put your hands on? Well let's ask the opposite: what
CAN you put your hands on? Well the horse (if you could catch it), the ground
that you'd be standing on and anything that might be flying in the air or growing
from or resting on the ground, or out there on the horizon. The negative space
is all the space left over that isn't those things.
In lesson 7 you learn how to build and see a frame (or a format) around
your subject. The format helps cage your subject in a "viewfinder"and helps
you see even more poignantly the negative spaces both in and around your
Lesson 8 teaches you to collapse perspective and proportion into under-
standable angles and relations between lines, between shapes and especially
between the vertical and horizontal lines of the format.
Lastly, Lesson 9 shows you how to recognize and portray highlight and
Re-employing the foundation lessons
After you work your way through all that, you're ready to apply the foundation
lessons to drawing the face. But we don't jump straight into drawing full faces
- no, that would be too intimidating. Test after test shows that drawing the
human face is one of the most intimidating subjects of the art world. But it
doesn't have to be.
That's why we break it down down piece by piece - actually feature by feature.
That's Part II of the game plan: learn each feature of the face and all the general
shapes of the head. Should you forget what you learned in those 9 foundation
lessons? Heck no. That's why we approach each feature employing exercises
directly out of the foundation lessons to reach our end. So you're going to read
"do a vase face of the nose, the ear, the eyes" etc. - that's to help keep you
grounded in those foundation concepts.
What if it was you who asked that question?
So if the feature by feature lessons made no sense to you, here's what I
recommend. If you see an assignment or a reference to a term you don't under-
stand and it uses a main concept you found in the foundation lessons -
review that foundation lesson. What if you're just diving in?
Try this: go to the Lessons Library right in the front of the book. If you skim
the titles or the first sentence of each section I'll bet 5 to 1 you'll spot the
"foreign" word or term, offending or otherwise, in the first 2 minutes. Then,
take a 1 minute break - because I know how I always have to balk for a
second before I dive into a new load of unexpected work. But it'll be fun!
But do do THE EXERCISES - that's the best way to drive all the point's
home. Every part of the rest of the book builds on those terms, concepts,
and skills - those five skills of drawing.
To make things even clearer, I'm going to be adding significantly more
spoon fed exercises to each section - and they'll be better organized.
Hopefully that will help clear up any confusion.
2) Composition - a fresh approach
Hey, ya gotta check out this site. I stumbled on it last night while just
browsing. It's written by art teacher Sean Farrell in Minneapolis and it's very
well done. His site is called "Drawing Class.com" but it really ought to say
"Learning Art Composition.com" because that's what his lessons are really
about. You can get the gist of his ideas from the free downloadable lesson.
In a nutshell, he says that all shapes within a picture lead to a direction
or a flow within the picture. These "flow shapes" are actually some
version of an arrow all pointing us to the main subject within the art work.
In a well done composition all these arrow-shapes work together to point
us to the focus in the picture. In a bad composition, there's no direction -
and you feel the disjointedness.
I don't teach much about composition because frankly, it's not something I
understand very well. Reading just his free downloadable lesson gave me
a whole new insight on how to compose a picture - and it made complete
sense out of other authors attempts at explaining composition.
Composition is an advanced idea but there's no reason you can't start
weaving it in to your learning from day one. There are two more lessons
offered for purchase. Check it out:
So take care, stay healthy, and keep on drawing!
4702-C West 130th Street
Los Angeles CA, 90250
"Once and for all getting you drawing faces and caricatures"