Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Drawing From Life, Abstraction & Simplification

Drawing from life never held any allure for me.  As a young man I was obsessed with the Pop Surrealist movements of art depicted in Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose magazines.  I poured over the galleries in the ads and in the gallery directory on the Juxtapoz website.  I de-valued the ability to draw from a figure or to do a portrait.  I felt like the only work that mattered was work that elicited a higher purpose.  I never thought that anything in my daily life might hold enough interest for a viewing populace.  

Currently, I find this to be contrary to my whole practice.  I have found that I am tremendously interested in observation and communicating a figure as simply as possibly.  This has created its own issues.  When I was in school there seemed to be this heavy push to learn to draw the figure as well as possible using values and proportion perfectly.  That was freshman year, when a basis in this information is vital to your artistic development.  I didn't take many figure drawing or drawing classes after my freshman year.  Really I only took one, but it was that same figure drawing I course. I feel that I didn't fully learn the basics that I was aiming to learn.

That said, I do feel that I have learned a communication of a figure, albeit in my language.  I have been struggling with justifying this figure to the figure that I felt I should be capable of producing due to that undergraduate education.  So when I was reading about Gauguin's break with the impressionists this morning, when he was abandoning the comma shaped brush stroke and leaning towards more of a caricature style, it was heartening.  Gauguin referred to his new style as "the synthesis of a form and a color, taking into consideration [only] the dominant."

Gauguin developed this style while looking through the print works of Hokusai and Hiroshige, styles and theories which I also am very much fond of.  As I've been working in watercolor, I've started thinking about how to communicate shapes using a single line much like Asian artists working with Sumi ink.  

As I read this morning I realized a connection.  I am simplifying my brush stroke which I use while working in acrylic paint, aiming for a more gestural and abstract expression of my subject.  Lost is the noodling pixellated looking brushstroke.  I never suspected that I would discover so much more emotion by painting subjects from the everyday.  I thought that the allegories that I had created were more powerful than my work from natural subjects, but I am beginning to think that this is false.  I guess only time will tell.  

While I do not suspect that I will entirely abandon my all of my silly character work, it is rather fun after all, I do think that I am excited to continue this level of discovery within the natural subjects.  I don't feel that it is nearly the sell out that I thought it was every time my mother asked me for a painting of "something pretty."


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