Hi everyone. I had been learning about Indian art these past few weeks. I found a book on sculptures and that got me hooked and I couldn´t stop and I went on to read other books on the subject….Temple architecture and sculpture had always been very fascinating for me. I promise to write something about it soon. Meanwhile here´s a drawing I made yesterday. Yeah…. figure drawing is on the top of my Things to Learn list… ha …..
Like for any other subject, its important to establish the proportions first. Do this before you start anything else. The average human figure usually has eight heads. That is, you can fit the length of the head 8 times in the figure in the standing position. Super human figures are generally drawn with 9 heads. This figure has close to 4 heads from head to hip in this sitting position. Once you have marked the positions from head to chin, chin to waist, waist to hip, start establishing the widths; the maximum width of the face, the shoulders, waist and where the dress ends.
Next, the tilts are very important. The tilt of the head, the shoulders and the hips (they can be in different directions). Here, the face is not exactly looking straight, its tilted a little to the left (our left) so that the right eye, the right side of the nose and the right side of the mouth are all placed slightly higher than the left counterparts. Place the position of the arms properly and after you have done this, it is pretty much smooth sailing. Sketch in the locks of the hair, refine the features, draw the folds in the (that gorgeous) dress.
I’ve done this drawing ‘Hoverfly on Bindweed’ from Mike Sibley’s tutorial on negative drawing. I had read this a long time back and have used the understanding gained (separation of layers, creation of elements connecting layers, small shapes left in background to create a realistic look) in my own works. But something about this seems so magical and mysterious, I keep returning to it again and again, so finally I decided to do it myself. I really admire how he creates his realisitic works without depending too much on references. This one is composed from several different photographs. His complete tutorial along with the line drawing to trace or print is available at http://www.sibleyfineart.com/workshop_resources.htm. Its terribly useful for practice in negative drawing (having to save whites can be very frustrating for watercolor artists, so having this skill makes that less frustrating), as well as for distinguishing close tones and half tones, have a go at it yourself if you want to improve your realistic work. Its easy to see from this, why it is often said that values are what make a painting and not the colors.
These are a few of my paintings that I had done a couple of years back, with my foray into western art and this kind of 3d modelling of forms. I had been drawing and painting since I was a child though. My mom is very creative, she used to stich our (mine and my sisters’) dresses by hand making embroidery on them, zardosi work and painting on all our sarees, lace and crochet work, knitting, decorating vases, cushions and curtains, just about anything that can be made by hand for the home. We too perfected all those crafts along the way, ofcourse, but it was all in fun, I never thought I would become so passionate about painting. Mainly because of my father, who thought of me as something of a wiz kid in studies and had high hopes for me. I did just enough to keep him satisfied, scoring percentages of 80 or 85 but not more than that. I never had the competitive urge in me, I didn’t want to be in a position where anyone around me would feel less than me and thus lose any easygoing, carefree nature in the relationship I had with him or her. (my dad used to liken me to a lotus leaf, on which a water drop slides off but doesn’t get wet by it, the same way I don’t get affected by things happening around me) But still people thought of me as a book worm, and my uncle always used to tease that I would become an astronomer as I used to keep staring at stars and read about blackholes! And so I too thought that of myself as a nerdy type of person and I finished my bachelor`s degree (in Engineering, though I did make some feeble attempts with my father to shift to architecture when the oppurtunity came up in first year to change courses).
I got myself a position as software engineer at a company in Bangalore and whatever programming I did during that time and before that, I really loved, programnming gives me a high! At that time, I was also in my spiritual quest, reading a lot of books on philosophy and spirituality. I somehow came to the conclusion that there was no such thing as true love and so didn’t want to get married as it would have been a compromise. Though it was my own decision, I ended up being depressed, (my parents weren’t too happy either) and it was during that time that I found my guru, Shri Bharat Thakur. He set me on the path of marriage and painting. I wasn`t so sure about painting, my family still wanted me to have a proper career, and I went to classes of datawarehousing and such like in the ever constant struggle to keep up with the latest technologies. It was actually when I found a book on painting flowers (after marrying and shifting to Germany) that my passion started to awaken. It was when I had my ‘Wow! How did she do that? wish I could do that’ moment. Because the flowers which I drew uptil then had been decorative, I had never seen any paintings which were painted to look like they do in real life. Then I bought Susan bourdet`s books and I was really, really hooked. Over the years, I slowly started to see that though I love programming, if I had continued to do it, it would have dried me up, since it has everything to do with the brain but not much from the heart. I have made peace with it and my family too, but if not, I hope my father does so now, after reading this!
I have been inspired by a lot of contemporary artists, Susan Bourdet’s colors and compositions, Susan Harrison Tustain’s realistic approach, Fabio Cembranelli and Marvin Chew’s colors and loose styles, Roland Lee’s cottages and peaceful scenes and a lot of others. I think my own style has come about through admiring and assimilating all their works. Susan Harrison in particular, has been very inspiring for me, not only through her art but by her personal battle of survival against cancer through beauty and art. Her paintings, ‘Echoes of Yesterday’ and ‘Josephine Bruce’ are my special favourites, I can never tire of looking at them. At a very low time in my life, when really, I had nothing to hold onto and could do nothing, her Glorious Garden Flowers book and DVD gave me a will and motivation to live, I only had that ‘maybe one day I will be able to paint like her’ thought to tide me over.
Roland Lee, Sharon Himes, Fabio Cembranelli:
I’ve paintings learnt from a few other artists’ works as well, but I don’t have those with me right now. Speaking of artists I admire, I cannot forget one artist I had seen working in an alley in Venice. He was drawing imaginary Venetian landscapes, which had the canals with gandolas and bridges and houses on either side. He had a rectangular, graphite stick which fit in the hollow of his palm, and by dragging the length of it along the paper, he was able to create perfectly straight lines of various widths, from the lightest to the darkest value, arcs, shadows, all from a single stroke with minimal of adjustments. I was just standing there, agape, rooted to the spot, till finally I was dragged away by my son (can’t interest a four year old with that kind of stuff). And what is it with the city of Venice that makes it so romantic? Were my eyes fooling me or is the quality of light really different there? You can notice it specially at sunrises and sunsets, maybe its because of the reflections from the water in the numerous network of canals. Whatever be the cause, its a haven for plein-air artists and photographers. If you’re in low spirits or in need of inspiration, my advice to you: go to Italy for a vacation!
Books of Arthur Guptill and Peter Wooley:
These ones are quite recent, from Bobb Ross’s book, I`ve changed his oils into watercolors: