This is one of the final posts describing what I learned during my time studying at The Cambridge Street Studios. Things just didn't work out for me there and I will no longer be studying at The Cambridge Street Studios. I will be continuing the classical curriculum elsewhere and I will continue making blog posts about what I am learning.
to view a higher resolution image (the drawing is 15" x 7" inches)
While I was working on my drawing of the hand cast, shown above, there were many discussions of ideas between the instructors at The Cambridge Street Studios and me and this post is a summary of the ideas and processes that have guided me through that drawing. Footnotes are included in this post to indicate which sentences in this post are summarizations of ideas that the instructors at The Cambridge Street Studios have explained to me.
The modeling process that I have been using is focused on trying to understand the three-dimensional structure of a form and its relation to a light source. That understanding is then translated onto my paper by first outlining the shapes of the planes on a form, so that I may sculpt the planes by using value to represent areas of a form that are turning towards or away from the light.¹
I used a few different approaches for sculpting the form on my drawing of the hand cast that offered different advantages for each stage of this drawing.
3-Day Modeling Process
At first it was taking me a long time to move on from the areas above the wrist because I kept going back to rework my modeling in those areas. Once I began using a 3-day modeling process (that Jeremy Deck was taught by Angela Cunningham and that he taught to me¹
) the drawing began to progress much more quickly and pushed me to make more confident decisions while modeling. The 3-day modeling process that I used is as follows.
For each daily 4 hour drawing session I would focus on modeling about a square inch of form.¹
The process of modeling each form began with selecting the simplest path on a form that contained the most value range for that form.¹
(Paths like this that describe the three-dimensional arc of the surface on a form are known as a strips of form.) Then I would outline 3 or 4 distinct planes on that strip of form, while trying to make sure that the strip of form on my drawing appeared to diminish or advance accurately in perspective.¹
Then I would turn each of those planes darker or lighter in value based on how much each of those planes were turned towards or away from the light source.¹
While working on this strip I had to do much comparing of the planes that I had previously modeled in the wrist to try to ensure that the value hierarchy would be consistent across the entire drawing. I would start modeling a strip by first placing the value for the down-most plane or the the plane that was most faced towards the light.¹
Then I would bend the remaining planes down in value as they turned away from the plane that faced most towards the light, or if I started by first placing the value for the down-most plane I would bend the remaining planes up in value as they turned towards the light from that point. I would often have to adjust the shape and value of each plane once all the planes on strip of form were drawn in order to more accurately represent the shape and value of each plane in relation to each other.¹
This stage of the modeling process offers one the ability to resolve many of the important aspects of accurately representing a form. Focusing on the shape and value of each plane in relation to each other can ensure that the large planes on a strip of form are accurately shaped and positioned towards or away from the light source.
After I did my best to organize the large planes in a strip of form I would proceed to model a form by trying to be more specific about how subtly each section of the form was positioned towards or away from the light source. I first focused on modeling a representation of the form without details. There were many bumps, scratches and small subtle plane breaks on the cast that were distracting from the overall volume of a strip of form. I would ignore those details in order to focus on representing the more obvious form.¹
After I attempted to model the more simple version of a form I would include the details that I saw on the cast on top of the simple version of the form that I had modeled.¹
I would continue to model adjacent strips of form by using the same process described above. After an adjacent strip had been focused on individually I would try to be specific about modeling the transitions between the two adjacent strips on a form. Once all of the strips on form were modeled on my drawing I could evaluate the entire mass of a form in relation to the other forms previously modeled and could make needed adjustments. This process continued form by form for the drawing below the wrist. Below is a diagram of the 3-day modeling process that further illustrates how I would progress through modeling a form by focusing on a square inch of form each day.
I would focus on modeling a square inch of form.
I would focus on a new strip of form but would allow myself sometime to rework areas in the strip of form from day one.¹
I would focus on a new strip of form but would allow myself sometime to rework areas in the strip of form from day two and even less time to rework areas in the strip of form from day one.¹
Although I primarily focused on completing a square inch of form each
day with this process, I did break from that habit somewhat by only completing half of a
square-inch of form on some days.
This process was helpful for developing more confidence in my decisions as I modeled a form. Developing confidence in one's decisions while modeling is an important skill to develop because the direct painting process with oil paint that I will use allows for little to no reworking of painted areas once they have dried.
Some progress photos of my drawing of the hand cast are shown below to illustrate what I mean by the
drawing progressing form by form. Many of the photos show multiple forms that have been modeled, but each form that was drawn in the process was first focused on individually.
A Reworking Process
I tried my best to accurately represent each form as I progressed through the front of the hand but made many severe mistakes that were made obvious once the entire front of the hand was in my drawing. The reworking process that I used was intended to better organize the planes on my drawing to make my drawing more accurately represent the structures that I saw on the cast.
|Before reworking After reworking|
Note, I only reworked areas below the wrist in these photos.
Due to not enough consideration of the value hierarchy of each form in relation to each other I was presented with a drawing that did not accurately represent the value organization of the large planes on the cast. A reason for why I did not consider the value hierarchy enough was because I was too focused on only determining the values on each form by only trying to understand each plane's position in relation to the light source. This resulted in a drawing that lacked the organized specificity of the values of the planes that I saw on the cast. During the reworking process I had to embrace the fact that the values of the planes that I saw on the cast were a result of each plane's specific orientation to the light source. Before the reworking process, I could compare the position of one plane to another to see that one plane would be slightly more facing the light than another. But the specificity of exactly how much each plane was facing the light source was so difficult to determine by only evaluating and trying to retain an idea of where each plane is facing that it was more useful to check what I understood by comparing how light or dark the values of the planes on the cast appeared in relation to each other before I decided on the value for a plane on my drawing.¹
The reworking process that I used to try to organize the planes on the front of the hand was made easier with the use of a few thought processes. In order to stay focused while reworking the front of the hand I would only work on trying to correct one area of a form at at time. I started reworking on the left side of the hand and reworked form by form until I made it over to the right side of the hand. During this process I had to be extremely careful to make sure I was making decisions that were well investigated in order to prevent myself from making more mistakes.
|Outlined areas of planes that appear to group together into similar values because the planes within the shapes face in similar directions.|
During this reworking process I would first consider how the values of the shapes of the planes on a form grouped together with the values of the shapes of the planes on the forms surrounding it. While I was trying to group the values of the large planes on my drawing I also made sure to be specific about the gradations, made by micro-planes turning towards or away from the light source, within those large planes in order to represent the subtle three-dimensional structure within each of the large planes.
A useful evaluation tool is to compare how the cast looks with one's eyes out of focus to how one's drawing looks with one's eyes in focus.¹
Looking at the cast with one's eyes slightly out of focus reduces the amount of contrast that one sees on the cast so one can better see the cast in a compressed value range that is more similar to the compressed value range on one's drawing.¹
This is helpful for determining if the compressed value relationships that one sees on the cast , with eyes slightly out of focus, are similar to the value relationships that one sees on one's drawing with their eyes in focus.¹
Once the values of the planes on a form were better relating with the values of the planes on the surrounding forms I would focus on larger areas of connecting forms.
|Two clear areas of connecting forms, outlined in brown, with a directional path across, outlined in red.|
Of course all of the forms on a cast are connected but some forms clearly flow into each other along a distinct directional path; like waves following a directional current to flow into one another. An area of connecting forms is evaluated by rolling over the forms in a directional path while looking back and forth from one's drawing to the cast at the same pace that one is pointing their pencil at the same place on their drawing that they are looking at on the cast. This type of evaluation is as if one was a surfer riding a tide, evaluating if the waves of form on one's drawing feel like the waves of form that one sees on the cast.
These thought processes were very helpful for organizing areas of form on the front of the hand and I included these thought processes into my process to better evaluate a form before I moved on. After I reworked the front of the hand I continued through the drawing until I finally reworked the drawing after all the forms on my drawing were included.
I received far less instruction while working on this cast drawing, as compared to my drawing of the ear cast and found that working through issues myself was very beneficial to the understanding that I gained. A useful exercise that was helpful to me in trying to understand how I would approach modeling forms was to make preparatory studies in my sketchbook.
|Preparatory study from my sketchbook|
Before I approached modeling the finger and pole on my drawing I made a preparatory study of it in my sketchbook during time that I was away from school. I did much thinking about the area of form that I would model each day and how I would approach modeling each form. I included numbers on each of the strips for a form so that I could plan out how I would approach modeling each form. Working on preparatory studies such as the one shown above felt very much like doing homework before taking a test. I learned a lot from drawing the hand cast that should help me on the projects that I work on in the future.
¹ Jeremy Deck, personal communication, 2013-2014.