Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Mysterious "Something"

So last week I made some vague references to a mysterious “something” that I was thinking about doing, but that I ended up not doing.
Last night I did it.
What was “it,” you ask?
In looking at a list of upcoming events in Loudoun County on the Web, I noticed that there’s a local art gallery and studio that has an “open studio” on Monday evenings, in which the public can go in and, for a $12 fee, sketch a live model.
I’ve been interested in sort of refreshing myself on the fundamentals of drawing, particularly “analog” drawing (as in non-digital; on paper instead of on the computer), so I thought this might be a good opportunity.
As noted, I didn’t go last week, for a variety of reasons.
One of those reasons was that I felt rather self-conscious. Walking into a studio and doing life drawing seemed kind of like walking into a gym when you’re ridiculously out of shape.
It’s been at least a dozen years since I’ve worked in any media other than the computer. I can’t even remember the last time I actually drew something of note on paper with a pencil.
Beyond that…well, while I’ve been drawing for pretty much as long as I can remember, I’ve never had any sort of professional instruction. I’ve skimmed through some books here and there, but basically anything I know about art I just picked up on my own.
My high school didn’t have an art program, and, lacking anything that even remotely resembled a portfolio, there was no way I was going to get into an art program in college. And simply meeting the various requirements for my degree didn’t allow for me to even try taking an art course as an elective.
The closest I got to an art class in college was cleaning the classrooms used by the art department in my student job as a janitor.
Seeing the work done by some of the students also added to the self-consciousness factor and pretty much made sure that I’d never even try getting into an art class.
I’ve never done any sort of “life drawing,” either. Not in any sort of formal setting, at least. I once asked Lorie to pose for me back when we were in college, but she was so disagreeable the whole time that I decided “Never again.”
(Beyond that, I once did a sketch of her while she was sleeping. Her angry “I don’t look like that!” reaction killed any ideas I had about trying that ever again.)
So, yeah. I felt more than a little trepidation about going to the open studio with my sketch pad and Mickey Mouse pencil set – not literally Mickey Mouse, but just some cheap little set I randomly bought one day a while back – tucked under my arm.
But I did it.
As an aside, even though I was more committed to going this time around, I almost didn’t go, as, for whatever reason, my contacts decided to irritate my eyes again when I wore them Sunday night.
I spent all of Monday with swollen, bloodshot, bleary eyes.
So the circumstances weren’t really conducive to my going, as I looked terrible and couldn’t really see.
When I got home from work I was going to use the prescription eye drops I have left over from when my eyes were really irritated, as they’re the only thing I’ve found that actually works to relieve the problem. However, I don’t like using them because they dilate my pupils, so, for the sheer hell of it, I decided to try some regular over the counter eye drops that I had.
They worked like a charm.
While I was glad to have the problem cleared up, this annoyed me to no end, because if I’d known that something other than the prescription drops would work, I could have gone to the store at lunch time or something and bought some, sparing myself a truly miserable day.
In any case, I did go, and I suppose I should talk about the experience.
It was odd.
Like most everything in my life, drawing has generally been a solitary pursuit, so it seemed strange to be surrounded by other people, but I got over that fairly quickly.
The model – who was clothed the whole time – had a tendency to move a little too often, and the “monitor” facilitating the whole thing had her change poses a little too frequently, so there were many poses that she didn’t hold long enough for me to get a chance to do a decent sketch.
Or, I suppose I could take the blame and say that I couldn’t sketch fast enough to keep up.
Other than that, the lighting was poor. By that I mean that there wasn’t much light to work by; the lighting on the model was excellent.
Overall it was an experience, and I may try it again. Somewhere along the line I think I’d like to take an actual class, but that’s still firmly in the “maybe” category.
It took me a little while to get into the swing of things, so my first couple of sketches totally blew, but I’ve scanned in the ones that were, as I told Scott, at least within spitting distance of being halfway decent.
Here they are:



Smudging has always been an issue for me.







So, yeah. Now you know what all the vague, mysterious somethings are. I believe I warned you that they would be boring, so I don’t want to hear any complaints out of any of you. I mean, honestly, you didn’t think I was doing anything interesting, did you?

5 comments:

Merlin T Wizard said...

The first and the last are my favorite of the bunch. The shading and detail seem a bit sharper than the rest. You also managed to catch her expression in those sketches with an economy of lines. She looks kinda bored/pissed off, what was she like in the studio?

Heimdall said...

Those two were among the longer poses, so I had more time to work on them.
When not posing she was usually smiling and seemed generally agreeable. Having to hold the same position for 20 minutes is bound to make anyone look bored or pissed off.
At the end, she walked around to take a look at what everyone had done, but I didn't notice that and had already closed my sketch pad by the time she came over by me. I realized what she was doing after she walked away so I opened the pad back up, but she didn't come back around. It's that special combination of being oblivious and spastic that makes me Jon.

Merlin T Wizard said...

Well, someone's got to be Jon. It might as well be you.

Heimdall said...

I suppose that I do have a lot of experience, and am therefore the best person for the job.
However, the title of that classic Elliot S! Maggin story, "Must There Be a Superman?" does spring to mind, and I'm not so sure that if the question were applied to Jon the answer would be in the affirmative.

Merlin T Wizard said...

Of course there must be a Jon! Who else is the Universe going to dump on? I think it gets bored with me too quickly.