Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Representational art, realism, abstraction, expressionism, and many many more.

I didn't do any sketching over the holidays, but I finished the Rothko book.  I've been thinking alot about the relationship between representational art and what artists like Rothko were attempting to achieve. 
In the end I don't think it matters at all whether the work is representational or not.  Rothko would say that what matters is whether the work expresses basic human emotions.  In fact, he denied that his works were abstract (or that he was an abstract expressionist).  He stated in an interview in 1952 that "abstract art never interested me; I always painted realistically....  When I thought symbols were [the best means of conveying meaning] I used them.  When I felt figures were, I used them."  On the subject of portraiture, Rothko observed that "the real essence of the great portraiture of all time is the artist's eternal interest in the human figure, character and emotions--in short, in the human drama.  That Rembrandt expressed it by posing a sitter is irrelevant.  We do not know about the sitter but we are intensely aware of the drama....  What is indicated here is that the artist's real model is an ideal which embraces all of human drama rather than the appearance of a particular individual....Freed from the need of describing a particular person, the possibilities are endless.  The whole of man's experience becomes his model, and in that sense it can be said that all of art is a portrait of an idea."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Man on - you guessed it - the Metro

It isn't my intention to fill this book with sketches from the Metro, but it sure seems to be turning out that way, because that's when I have time to draw.  Its also fun because you never know when a passenger is going to get up and leave or another one will enter and sit in front of the person you were drawing, so you have to draw fast.   When I started drawing this morning, the only other passenger was a young woman who was looking down doing something.  I started to  draw her, but this guy came in, sat down, and opened up a newspaper, messing up my view of her.  She got off at the next station, so I ended up drawing him.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Red Line, Farragut North

This lady had the misfortune of sitting in my line of sight in the few minutes before our train arrived.
She could use a cup of java, I'll bet.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Another pocket sketch

A quick copy of an old master hand study.  I'm reading "Writings on Art" by Mark Rothko.  In 1934 he wrote:  "The return to the past comes about regularly even in the conscious life.  Jesus told men to become as little children.  The renaissance went back to antiquity for the purpose of going forwards....  Without such retrogressions no great progressions are possible, and no fresh creation, however clearly imagined, has any prospect of a future unless it has borrowed from the past.  For it is wrecked on a law of spiritual life."

Pocket Sketchbook

Although I have a large sketchbook that gets quite a bit of use, many times I don't have it with me because of its size.  So I bought a pocket-sized sketchbook so that I will always have something on hand to sketch in.  Here is the first sketch that I did during lunch, looking out of my office window on the lightly snow covered rooftops of the Sumner School in DC.  It is a Romanesque Revival building designed by Washington architect Adolf Cluss, a task for which he received a design award at the 1873 Vienna Exposition. The school opened in 1872.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Drawing a Day

I'm going to post a drawing a day, so there.  Some will be sketches from my sketchbooks, and some will be full blown drawings.  This first one is a drawing I did of a detail of Canova's "Eros and Psyche," which was comissioned in 1786.  The story is that Psyche was one of three sisters, princesses in a Grecian kingdom.  All three were beautiful, but Psyche was the most beautiful.  Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, heard about Psyche and her sisters and was jealous of all the attention people paid to Psyche.  So she summoned her son, Eros, and told him to put a spell on Psyche.  Always obedient, Eros flew down to earth with two vials of potions.  Invisible, he sprinkled the sleeping Psyche with a potion that would make men avoid her when it came to marriage.  Accidentally, he pricked her with one of his arrows (which make someone fall in love instantly) and she startled awake.  Her beauty, in turn, startled Eros, and he accidentally pricked himself as well.  Yeeeouch!  Ultimately, the whole thing ended in up being the subject matter for a pretty nice statue.