"I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain." – The National

Tag: proportion


As mentioned in the previous post Trying to Find Some Perspective, I have chosen to take a break from working through an exercise that was causing me great strife and temporarily put my energy in a different direction. (A brief detour, if you will.) The new exercise, also from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, instructs the student to study and copy Charles White’s drawing, “Preacher.”

This drawing is a clear demonstration of a foreshortened view and once again highlights how what the artist sees may contradict what we know of the physical world. For example, in the drawing (and as it would appear on the imaginary picture plane) the man’s hand is larger than his head; obviously in reality this wouldn’t be the case. However, it is because of these unexpected proportions that the drawing maintains its realistic appearance.

“Preacher” by Charles White

My Copy of “Preacher” by Charles White

I was a bit at a loss as to how to mimic the artist’s masterful shading but I gave it my best shot. (I will greatly welcome the lesson on shading techniques, which I believe is a couple of chapters down the road.) Interestingly, by trying to copy the shading, I became even more aware of the exquisite details of the drawing, particularly the depiction of light, and experienced a whole extra level of appreciation for White’s creation.

This reminded me of my English degree undergrad years when I would read a required work for a course. Often I would initially appreciate what I had I read but it was only after studying the work that deeper meaning and understanding would emerge. Along with this understanding came respect, excitement and a true appreciation for the writer’s craft.

I have had little experience studying Visual Art, but I imagine it could be a similar experience and one that I hope I can open my world to as I continue on my path of learning to draw and learning to live.

Trying to Find Some Perspective

My good friend, who is an excellent teacher, has assured me that there is often a plateau when one is learning a new skill, when it’s possible for progress to lag and for graduation to the next level to seem insurmountable. She cited learning a language as an example and pointed to the learning of prepositions as a point when students often become overwhelmed.

I am still slowly working my way through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and I am finding the third basic skill of drawing, the perception of relationships, to be extremely challenging.  In this unit, the emphasis is on learning to sight, essentially learning how to draw using perspective and proportion.

The skill of sighting is made up of two parts, comparing angles to the constants of imagined vertical and horizontal lines and comparing sizes (proportions) to the constant of a basic unit chosen at the start of the drawing. All of this action takes place on the imagined picture plane and a pencil is used to measure proportions and angles.  Subsequently, this “sighting” is then applied to the drawing.  It’s hard to describe without visuals, so check out this link if you’re interested in having a look at this concept with a bit more depth.

I believe I understand the concept. However, I start the exercise (drawing a corner of my room) with great intention and anticipation, only to find that somehow, despite my best efforts to follow the instructions on how to sight, that things do not come together quite as expected. A portion of the drawing is way too big or way too small or at a completely wrong angle–why is my television floating in the air?–and by the time I realize my error, which is far too colossal to “work around,” the only logical resolution is to abandon the drawing and start over.

This wouldn’t be so bad and I’d resign myself to a “practice makes perfect” philosophy except I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing wrong so I feel like I’m potentially just learning how to execute the same mistake more efficiently.  (Not only that, but my drawings are less “in perspective” and more “out of proportion” than the drawings I was doing previous to this unit and it’s uncomfortable to feel like I’m going backwards.)

It would appear that I am stuck.

And I am also frustrated.

However, in my experience, learning and frustration often go hand in hand.  So, although I have experienced a decided increase in procrastination and resistance to this project, (I can’t blame my lack of recent posts all on illness,) and the voices of doubt seem to have significantly more to say than usual, I am determined to climb my way off this plateau some way or another.

I will learn my prepositions.

I have a couple of ideas to explore and will do so, but before I return to the task at hand, I am taking a small break in an effort to create some new momentum and am currently trying a different exercise, which also focuses on using the perception of relationships in its execution.

(To be posted soon.)