First Week of School

I’m back, full time at Georgetown Atelier after a summer break. This is the beginning of my third and final year. I will be painting with a full palette.

Last year was mostly monochromatic – black and white, so having all the colors I need at my disposal will certainly be a big change.


Following the curriculum, I spent the first week drawing simplified versions of major anatomical parts as simplified cubes, showing their orientation in space from a skeleton and a live model. It was a mentally demanding exercise. Here is an example of it I found online (Link).

It brings up an interesting point about drawing. What does drawing involve? How is it accomplished? What does the artist think of when drawing – do they simply copy the lines they see?

The answer is no – believe it or not, but copying the lines as you see them will rarely lead to a coherent drawing, even when given a long time to work on it. This is because the lines of the figure (or objects in general) are a result of the volumes that generate them and the angle in which these volumes are viewed, as well as the result of the way the figure is lit. The contour created is complex, and the only way to make the drawing “work” is by considering not just the line in isolation, but the relationship of each line to other lines. For example, when drawing an arm, one must never copy each contour separately, but always consider the other side when drawing one side, or even draw both at the same time. But more is involved – the arm must also make sense with the torso and not appear disconnected from the body. It should have the right length in relation to the body and so on, so while looking at one particular line or object the artist has to simultaneously consider other parts.

As an artist, I was taught to use multiple “lenses” through which I observe the figure (and other objects) that help me convey what I find interesting in a realistic way that also stays true to whatever it is inspires me about the subject.

This way of analyzing the figure as blocks in perspective, is one more “lens” which artists can use to make sense of the figure.

Other lenses are the abstract shape of objects, gesture lines (identifying the overall flow of the figure), planes (analyzing the diferent planes of the figure), value shapes (such as shadow shapes), anatomy, angles, volumes and more.

The more an artist practice, the more they learn to automatically use all these lenses at the same time.

For me, I find that the most important thing is to cling on to an emotional response I have about a certain aspect of the pose and then start the drawing focusing on that part. I would therefore start with the general line of the gesture, or with some part of the contour that I find most essential to the gesture (what I find charming about the gesture), then I would build the volumes while keeping proportions and perspective in the back of my mind, looking for connections of one body part to another through lines that go through the figure and measure angles. Especially angles that play a critical role in the gesture. Many times I would also exaggerate the gesture to make it more expressive of what I like. ?Then, when considering the parts of the contour that are a result of muscles, I consult my knowledge of anatomy.

Anyway… I’ll be returning to my weekly posts starting this week, now that I have more content to post.

This year will include more personal projects, instead of just such that follow the curriculum. My main focus is to learn, with self-expression being a secondary. I don’t think it is actually possible to work and be motivated to work if self expression is completely absent, but my point is, unlike independent practicing artist, I will still not choose my subject matter most of the time and most of the art I produce is an exercise of some sort, in which I am aiming to learn something new. However, I never shut down the door on inspiration and when I find something that inspires me I go for it (sometimes at the expense of focusing on the exercise aspect of when I should be doing), but that’s OK. If I weren’t this way I wouldn’t be an artist now would I…


Next update: a week from now.



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