Sunday, October 25, 2009

Drawing with the left or non-dominant hand

Chili peppers, right hand above, left hand below.

I'd forgotten about drawing with the left (or non-dominant) hand, it's an incredibly useful thing to do. My right hand is stronger, but my left hand sees different things. The difference shows up in, say, a set of one-minute gesture drawings. My left hand will start in different places and pick out or emphasize different parts of the figure in action. I don't think it would happen as much if one was self-conscious about it, and the great thing about one-minute drawings is that they don't allow time to think. My left hand nearly always does more interesting things. It's really worth a try when one is desperate and nothing is going right.

The drawings above are ordinary drawings, not restricted to one minute. Right hand above, left hand below. Not sure they prove anything but I prefer the left-handed ones.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Level best

It might sound silly but one of the things I really like in drawings and paintings is when a level surface looks level. By this I mean, for example, that because of good drawing, a drawn or painted tabletop can be seen to be level. The edges might be slanted because of perspective but we as ordinary viewers know if it's "right". This preference goes against the grain of Modernism which delighted in throwing conventional perspective out the window and which teems with "tipped up" tabletops and other such surfaces. I like these too but don't feel authentic doing it myself and besides Modernism is long gone.

I sometimes use a little test of my own to figure out if something in a drawing is level. For instance, take the chair seat in Vermeer's "Woman Reading a Letter", and try this to check if it's really level: imagine placing a marble in the centre of the seat and then feel it with your body. Will the marble stay put or will it roll off?

The thing about tipped-up tabletops in Modernism is interesting for another reason. The trend developed from a belief that Cézanne's tipped up still life paintings were a manifestation of the use of multiple viewpoints and were therefore a precursor to Cubism. In previous posts I have ventured some evidence against this view. I'm now reading a book about Cézanne's landscapes that tends to question some of the 20th century art theory that was built on the tipped-up assumptions. Very interesting indeed, more in another post.