Images from the Exhibition and After

Most of the exhibited drawings are listed on the Sculpture And Stone website. The images below are about the general space and feel of the exhibition.
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Doing a stone carving demonstration the following day after the exhibition opened using Carrara marble and Sydney sandstone.

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The Stone Piece Nr1 – “Deliverance” Part 3

Welcome to the third and last part of the article about the sandstone carving “Deliverance”.

As I said at the end of part 2 I have decided to keep the clay model and exhibit it. I felt it can stand on it’s own. Instead of firing and glazing the piece I have decided to coat it with metal. Bronze to be exact. For this I used a metal coating process of a company called Sculpt Nouveau. They produce patinas and metal finishes that can be applied, if I am not mistaken, to any surface. A porous surface such as clay doesn’t have to be sealed if it is cured (bisque fired in case of the clay). The metal coating will soak into the cured material deeper if it isn’t sealed and so you might have to use more of the Metal Coating. Also, using Traditional Patinas (the ones that react and affect the metal) should be applied to wet / damp Metal Coating. The metal is suspended in an acrylic binder so when it dries, more of the acrylic rises to the surface of the metal thus reducing the effectiveness of the Patina. The company provides all the necessary components of the process and have great demo videos showing the process.
Now, I feel I need to make a clear distinction here. This is not a paint that would resemble an aged bronze surface. This is not an imitation. It is the real thing. The coating is made of the real metal and by applying the patina to the dry metal surface it creates the same effect as if the metal was exposed to weather. I think that makes all the difference.

So here are the finished pieces:
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And here is the sandstone carving:
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The Stone Piece Nr1 – “Deliverance” Part 2

Welcome to the second part.

When I got to the stage of roughing out the head I could not get past the bearded man. I tried several times to adhere to the clay model, but the stone itself was imposing its solidness and stature and was turning into an old man. As I was carving a few pieces at the same time I was able to leave the man alone for a couple of days. When I returned to work on him, the assumed course did not change.
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Finally I gave in and decided to go with the current. I had lots of help on the way:

IMG_7753_weboptIMG_7755_weboptAfter that I interrupted the work again to finish carving another piece, but when I returned, to the man and seeing that he will not change his mind, being so determined to come forth I continued in good faith that he know what he’s doing. And from then on I did not try to alter the expression.
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However there was one more alteration I did not foresee. The flower pattern.

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Now that the clay model was so much different from the stone piece I have decided to keep it instead of recycling the clay for the next stone piece. I used a product form a US company to metal coat it. But more about that and the final pieces in the next part.
To be continued…

The Stone Piece Nr1 – “Deliverance” Part 1

Hello everyone,

With my exhibition opening this Friday (22 August 2014) I start to present the artwork here for those who can’t attend the opening in person.
Part of the aim of the exhibition is to add an educational angle. This has been requested by the Gallery. It is to provide some insight into traditional sculptural techniques.
For this reason I have kept all the work that usually gets discarded once the artwork is finished. So here it goes:

A sculpture can be created in three ways.
1/ By careful planning, great preparation and extensive study. The result is decided and the stone carving stage of the creation is just copying the preconceived form.
2/ By “freeforming” – a process where nothing is certain and the sculptor finds the form by carving the stone.

Whilst the first approach builds a good foundation, it kills the flow. And while the second approach has a great flow, carving stone is hard labour, takes a long time and is expensive. Not many can afford the time, effort and expense to see if it works.

I work using the third method, which is the combination of the two above. In a partnership. I like to know where I am headed, I like to know and understand the form to a point where I am saturated with it and mostly don’t have to rely on preparatory drawings or clay models.

Then I regard the stone. I form a relationship to it. I invite it to share the journey. To have it’s say. And then I pick up the chisel.

These days an imposed restlessness rules any occupation. It is a restlessness of productivity. Things have to have great value and have to be accomplished immediately. And so, often even artwork can be infected by demands of the “more and faster”. However we, the artists, are in luck because that which needs to be expressed can neither be rushed nor ruled.

The sandstone carving I want to start with here is a testimonial to the above.

“Deliverance”
I had some stored up imagery that was on my mind when thinking of carving this particular block of stone. The choice was of course limited to an extent by the size of the block. Here are a few sketches working out the volume of the stone.
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After that I did a few anatomy studies. You may notice how the design slightly changes with the restrictions imposed by the size of the stone.
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The next stage was to transfer the ideas in the drawings into the 3 dimensional model in clay. Once I decided to do the clay model I made sure it is approximately the same size as what the volume of the stone would permit – approximately 55 cm (21.6 in).
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The clay model worked fine. Pleased with the expression I set out with great gusto to carve the block. It was too heavy to lift on a stand so I carved it on the ground often kneeling down.
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When I got to the stage of roughing out the head I could not get past the bearded man. I tried several times to adhere to the clay model, but the stone itself was imposing its solidness and stature and was turning into an old man. As I was carving a few pieces at the same time I was able to leave the man alone for a couple of days. When I returned to work on him, the assumed course did not change.
To be continued..

Figure Drawing Workshop

Those of you living in and around Broken Hill might be interested to know I will be teaching a Figure Drawing Workshop on Saturday 28 June 2014 at The Regional Art Gallery. If you’d like to brush up your figure drawing skills and clear up any challenging areas this is a good opportunity. To reserve your seat, contact Ian Howarth at the Gallery.

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A possibly frequent question worth posting

The other day I have received an email with a question which I suspect would cross the mind of many of those who thought about doing my online course. I thought it is a good idea to actually publish (with permission) both, the question and the answer:

Hello,
I am curious about your online courses and how it is meant to be used.  I don’t have access to a live model at home and wonder if it is OK to use virtual models to practice what I learn in your course?  (books with a CD of various poses).  Is it valuable to learn that way and then to supplement these studies with live classes? I take classes with a live model twice a week, one in figure drawing and the other a portrait class.  I have been doing this for years, but I find that my drawing skills for the figure is still quite weak!
 Thanks!
C. H. from USA
There is a way to learn figure drawing. It is a simple way and so everyone can do it. It is a set of steps guiding you through the decisions everyone wanting to draw has to make. These decisions are being made on the fly as you draw. The more you practice making these decisions, the more they become subconscious and your attention is therefore free to start to create. That’s the purpose of practicing. To free you up. The accurate realistic figure drawing, as nice and satisfying as it is, is not the end goal. It is to become a tool you can then use to express yourself, to communicate your ideas and feelings to the world. That is Figure Drawing in a nutshell.
Drawing from live model is the best there is because it allows you to perceive the 3 dimensionality of the body better than looking at a 2 dimensional photo of a 3 dimensional body. However, if you don’t know what you looking for you will not be able to progress.
 You already have a part of the ideal solution. If you draw from a live model twice a week, all you need is someone to tell you how to go about making the conscious decisions when drawing. And, of course, then practice.
My online course is a series of videos which take the viewer through all the body parts, explaining how to decide upon the shape you are about to draw and why. It provides a basic list of the “do”s and “don’t”s. All of this is done watching me drawing in real time so that you can see how it happens while I talk and explain why I am doing what I am doing and why is it working.
I really enjoy teaching in person because it allows me to see the mistakes everyone does and point them out early. And, of course, I get a kick out of watching someone else “getting it”, when something clicks and magic happens. But precisely for that purpose I started the “Common Mistakes” free series of videos anyone can watch.
I haven’t seen your drawings but based on your own assessment I assume you stopped at a certain level and can’t get past it even though you are doing life drawing twice a week. I would suggest you get the course, watch it all carefully, follow the drawings I make in the videos and then look for the things discussed in them on the live model when you draw the model. You will leap forward.
Ohhh yes, and one more thing. You said you have no access to a model at home. But you do. Yourself. Look down at your foot, look at your hand or, as I often do, stand in front of the mirror (clothed or naked – up to you) and draw. Observe the mechanics of the body while you are having a shower, when you make a motion, what happens. You are the perfect model, because you can feel the pose in your body, you can feel your own weight, which muscles are contracted and which are relaxed. Invaluable exercise. See how you go, and please let me know if it is ok to post your question on the blog. Happy Drawing!

Magic Persists

This happens every time a course is nearing it’s end. And every single time it finds me unprepared.
Usually I focus the first half of the 8 sessions to get the basics, to allow everyone to absorb the simple concepts. This not only creates a great foundation to build upon, it also allows students to experience almost instant success.
After the 4 sessions I am infusing the decision making process with a start of creative process. This will build a bridge to cross over from copying what we see to using what we see as an expressive tool to make a visual statement. I ask the students to make adjustments to the pose if needed. By about the second last session this process takes hold and amazing things start happening. Pure creative magic. And every time it finds me unprepared.

Here are some of the students work from last night:
IMG_7015_weboptObserve in the image above the freshness of the expression. This is, I believe a 1 minute pose. Since there is no time to get lost in the details a beautiful leap forward happens in terms of massing. This drawing is not anatomically correct but the body parts in relation to each other are in perfect expressive harmony. You can feel the model’s tension in the pose where muscular strength is applied to hold it. The thrust of the upper body creating a counter weight to the legs hinging on the pelvis. The rhythmic change from the rib cage through the neck to the skull is hugely expressive. You can hear her saying: “I can hold this. you just get on with it.” Beautiful!

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This one above is a great example of a foreshortening problem correction. You see the moment you place something on the paper, regardless where on the body you start, you have set out the proportion for the drawing. Everything else that follows is ( or at least supposed to be ) in correct spatial and proportional relationship with what’s already there. If you don’t do that, and you like to look of the second part better, you have to erase the first part to make it work again. So drawing the whole body while rendering only a part of it is essential.

The student here had a foreshortening problem with the upper body. The pelvis was nice so I took that as the proportional set out. That was the given size, position, thrust and mass of the pelvis which was not to change. Now to make this body to lie down I related the rib cage, including the connection to the pelvis via the external oblique and rectus abdominis, then the shoulder girdle with the upper arm and finally the head to create a single body. Regardless of the likeness (or lack thereof) to the model, the body parts properly related to each other give back a human body in a readable position where the spatial plane and basic gravity applies and thus makes the body feel real. The only thing tricky about foreshortening is that while you do the above process, at the very same time you also have to do the proper sequence of overlapping. This is a spatial description of which body part is in the front of the others and therefore overlaps them. The rest fall in place by itself.

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The other part of the magic that happens is that the students, by now developing enough confidence to achieve what they want in the 10 minute pose, have enough space left to experiment with developing their very own style. That’s why I never ever talk or teach or suggest anything about “correct” proportions. This is one of the very pitfalls of contemporary art teaching. “The figure has to be 7 or 8 or 9 heads tall” – rubbish! The figure has to have the exact proportions YOU, the artist decide you like. Nothing else matters. You are the one holding the pencil. You are the one taking the responsibility for your creation. No misguided art critic / teacher can ever tell you what is it YOU like. Only YOU can.

You can see in the drawing above that once there was an acceptable level of massing and relational harmony, the pull towards expression was unstoppable. It had to happen. The soul needs to speak. And one way or other, it will. It’s just so much nicer when it happens through art!

Massing and the basic Structure

This comes back again and again in the class. The moment you forget about massing and the underlying structure, the drawing goes to pieces. If you follow the structure path first, a 60 seconds pose is long enough to make a drawing. If you abandon massing and focus on detail, no amount of time will be enough to make the drawing work. This is the underlying rule in figure drawing that needs to be observed and practised. Nothing happens in figure drawing without massing.

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Masterclass Continues

Here are a few more images from the classroom.
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Below are some of the short poses, one and two minutes. I bet you wouldn’t say these students are only learning to draw. Fantastic stuff.
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Masterclass is now part of a Bigger Picture

Just a quick update for those wishing to reach the masterclass.figuredrawingonline.com website and get a weird result. That’s because the address gets redirected.

Why?
The initial Masterclass in figure drawing has been extended into a full blown Sculptural Course consisting of three parts. The former Masterclass teaching realistic figure drawing is the first part, Figurative Sculpture in Clay is the second part and finally the Figurative Sculpture in Stone is the third part of this unique course offered at an incredible price.

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The figure drawing is now closely related to sculpture and so I decided to move it in. Not all the links work as yet, but at least everyone can have a look and get the information.

As you will discover browsing the site, those who wish to participate only in one or two of the parts but not all can do so. The only requirement is that they have a workable knowledge of what the course they are leaving out teaches. This is a simple precaution to avoid holding up the class. There is so much ground to cover and so much to learn. So check it out. You can still use the old address or you can go to:  www.sculptureandstone.com/education.html

Student excellence

We just had our second session of the Masterclass last night and the progress the students made was fantastic. Last week we did the Where To Start introduction to the course by practising simplifying complex forms into simple geometric shapes. That way one can actually think of them and make conscious decisions about their size, shape, position and orientation in space. That was pretty basic stuff.
So then last night, the second session, we dived into the anatomy of The Rib Cage and The Pelvis big time. If you haven’t done any purposeful learning of figure drawing, there’s a lot to process the first time you hear this stuff but everyone landed on their feet and just check out these three drawings of the same pose by three different students. Huge, huge progress. No wonder everyone is having a good time. Can’t wait for the next week’s session to witness the wonderful creative surprises everyone comes up with. Who said there are no perks in teaching?

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Masterclass is up and running

Just a quick update, on the Masterclass. As you may know Masterclass is now offered in Broken Hill and it has a great success. The class is full with 10 students and with extra couple of people coming in just for the life drawing part of each sessions with no tuition.
We started on Wednesday learning the very important Where to Start part of the course, which is really the three basic rules of figure drawing upon which the rest of the knowledge can be successfully built. Everyone is charging ahead with an unbelievable speed. I know it often doesn’t seem that way to the students, but if you can read the signs, you can see how amazing their progress is.
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Broken Hill Alert

For those of you living in the Broken Hill region, please note, the Figure Drawing Course will start at the end of January 2014. If you want to have your say in the day of the week, starting time and start of the course itself, go to the Masterclass page and email me your choices by Monday, 13 January 2014.
The number of students is limited to 10 per class so that I can spend enough time with each of you. Those of you who came along to the demo session in December know what’s in store for you and how exciting drawing gets. So if you wish to do the course, grab a seat. See you all very soon.

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Work In Progress Continues

Hello everyone,

We continue with the second episode of this new series about figure drawing workflow. The part of the process I really wanted to share, is working out the composition. A kind of “go with the flow” process where one doesn’t have to worry about how a body looks in a certain position. The whole sum of the lectures I sell are geared towards this point. The lectures provide the knowledge of anatomy while teach how to go about massing, planes, plane breaks, how to find and observe landmarks, how to use simple devices like contour lines and so on. They help to build a visual library of the human body one can then use to create.
So here is the second free video. Enjoy!

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Work In Progress Free Video

Hello everyone,

I’m working on a figurative composition which will end up as a quite large (70cm x 100cm) pen and ink drawing in a style similar to the ones you can find here. It is going to be fairly complex, involving a number of figures. All of these will have to be designed and developed in terms of anatomy and expression.
001_work_in_progressSo I thought it might be useful to show you the process I use which will also demonstrate what I called in one of the earlier blog entries as the “flow”. Here it is:

“Once you have absorbed all that can be had from the beginners course and then you follow through with the advanced course, the place I would like you all to get to, is having so much knowledge stored up that you can entirely concentrate on the creative process. This doesn’t mean you get a highly polished anatomically correct drawing every time you put your pencil to paper. The place I am talking about is being able to be in the flow. Being able to rough out your composition and change things on the fly without having to worry about anatomy, massing, perspective and all the elements of drawing.
The tremendous power of this type of work is that it shapes and refines your own style. I repeat this because this is so important: This way, you will develop and refine your OWN STYLE. No more copying. You have to realise that in the whole wide universe there is only one copy of each of you. Nobody, NOBODY! can draw the way you draw as long as you develop your own style. That style is unique and cannot be copied. The internal energy of your stroke (developed in time) of your view and your aesthetics (arrived at through your very own life experience) can NOT be replicated. And that, is called Figure Drawing.”

So here comes the first free video in this series. If you have any questions, just post them as comments.

New Prices, Lecture 000 is back

Ok, so after much deliberation and even more feedback from you all here are the latest changes to the lectures for sales.
First of all I have abandoned the discount voucher system as it was causing too much confusion. I have just adjusted all the prices instead. The new pricing is as follows:
Separate Lecture for download – AUD $30.00 each
Separate Lecture received in mail – AUD $30.00 each plus postage and handling
Separate Lecture DVD edition – AUD $35.00 each plus postage and handling
Whole course for download – AUD $349.00 (saving of $41.00)
Whole course DVD edition – AUD $455.00 (saving of $56.00) plus postage and handling
I’m sure this is a good news for you all who are thinking of getting the course or part of it.

The second change is about the Lecture 000 Where To Start. This was initially created because you requested a introductory lecture to the course that sums up the figure drawing principles. For some time now it was a bonus lecture for those who bought the whole course. Many of you requested it to be for sale again especially as it was a bit less expensive and it offered a safe insight into the course itself.
Well, it’s back and it is offered for the same price it always was, AUD $20.00 and you can find it here. There is also a link to it on the home page where the discounts were. I’m sure this too is good news.

If any of the links don’t work on the website, please, let me know so that I can fix them. Thanks to you all.

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The power of the traditional way

I’ve done a recent workshop in soap stone carving in Broken Hill. It was a 2 day event, a Saturday and a Sunday with about 8 hours of tuition each day. I was presented with a group of 6 students who have done various workshops before. However they were all completely new to stone carving.
There is a fairly long way before one gains enough experience working with stone to be able to produce what one wants. To be able to control your chisels and blows, to understand the limitations of stone as a material. So there was quite a bit of ground to be covered in 2 days.
The big help I had was the choice of the stone on behalf of the Regional Gallery who ran the workshop. Soapstone. Great material to start with. Hard enough to still qualify as stone and soft enough to be carved with a standard kitchen knife. We had a whole stack of different rasps, sandpaper and of course wax for final polishing.

Due to the shortness of time I was in a bit of a dilemma whether to just let everyone pick up a piece of stone and start hacking at it and hoping that with a bit of guidance they will find their way. Or, I could spend some of that precious time and introduce the traditional way. That is, don’t touch the stone, till you know exactly what is it you want to carve. This approach requires one to draw / sketch the idea, then model the idea in clay so that one can see the three dimensional object from all sides and make some choices. And then, and only then start carving the stone.
Apart from the obvious benefits what this approach helps with is that you don’t have to try to realise your artistic intent while at the same time you are trying to get a grip on a chisel. Despite using some of that time for the preparation the remaining time was more that enough to create some of the following artwork. Do remember, that they had no previous experience with stone.

Starting point – pieces of soapstone
IMG_5196_web_optThe workshop. Please notice the clay models.

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After the drawing, modelling in clay the carving starts.
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IMG_5200_web_optA use of various rasps is a good help when use of the chisel might be too rough.
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And some of the final artwork.
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Free Lessons Continue

Hello everyone, hope you’ve been drawing while I was busy elsewhere. As always, supporting those who wish to learn, here is the next instalment of the Common Mistakes series, both as a blog entry and of course, also as a video on the website. This episode is about an essential part of massing:

The Loss Of Volume
As you progress with your studies of the human body and the ways of drawing it, you will keep coming back to a very few of the basic principles. It is hard to think of them when one picks up the pencil and that is the reason for practicing drawing. When these principles become our second nature we no longer have to think about them, we’re just in for the ride. For the joy of it.
You heard me say this many, many times and I will repeat it still, it is so important. Massing is one of the cornerstones of figure drawing. For those of you who are new to the idea, massing is the way of converting complex shapes of an object – in our case the human body, into simple geometric shapes one is then able to think of. Once you can think of the shape, you are able to make decisions about it’s shape, size, orientation and relationship to the other shapes next to it.
You need anatomy. No question about it. The bones, muscles and tendons become part of your toolbox. But, when drawing a finger, one doesn’t start with remembering the boring anatomy lesson on how the first phalanx connects to the metacarpal via the articular facet of it’s superior extremity. If that was what artist are required to do no art would have ever seen the light of the day.

You start by simplifying. You imagine the finger as a cylinder. We all know what a cylinder looks like. (If you need to practice cylinders [very good exercise] lay down a bottle of wine and study the shape.) Seeing the finger as a cylinder, you can very fast determine which way it is facing, whether it is pointing at you or someone else. You can easily see it’s size. And then you lightly indicate this cylinder on the paper. Without any details, knuckles, nails, wrinkles….without any of those it immediately looks like a finger. Then you do the same way the next finger. Then the palm of the hand. With that one you might want to switch from the shape of a cylinder to that of a box. And so on. Once you massed your figure lightly, you can start remembering all those details you learnt in anatomy. But by then the essence of the figure, it’s proportions and expression is captured with lively speed. That is Massing.

Now that we have remembered and established that bit, we can focus on this episode’s content. We will continue with a very important concept which is part of the massing. The loss of volume.
The easy way to explain it, is through the rib cage. We place our observations of the body mainly on the bony structure because it doesn’t change. Muscles tend to shift and when not contracted they tend to (literally) hang off the bone. Rib cage is one of those bony structures we rely on. It is also the one that changes the most. After all it flattens and expands with every single breath we take. The change is very small so the rib cage remains just as reliable a road guide as any other bone in the body. The concept says that no volume can disappear from the body. The volume can shift, change shape, but it cannot disappear.

You can see in the following drawing by one of my students what happens, when you allow for the volume to be lost. The drawing is quite nice, there is a marked attempt at massing. The head is conceived as a ball in perspective, both of the deltoids are seen as balls and so is the left buttock. But then, traveling down the torso, the rib cage is suddenly not taken into account and this mistake gets passed on the position of the external oblique as well as the pelvis and the buttocks with it. Moreover the size of the pelvis gets distorted. From about below the scapulae it becomes a different drawing. There are now two bodies artificially joined.
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From this point on to fix the lower part of the drawing you have two possibilities. Either you decide the left hand side drawing of the rib cage is correct and you change the right side or vice versa. Either way you reclaim the volume of the rib cage.
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The following drawing is where loss of volume of the rib cage occurs most frequently. In the reclining nude. Various problems surface here, perspective, foreshortening, proportions getting away by the time we get to the right knee, however most of the problems disappear if the volume of the rib cage is reclaimed.
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The video counterpart of this blog entry has extra content. Also some of the concepts can be understood better if you see them drawn. You can find it here.