Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Phases of Vision

 The process of representing what is seen involves recognizing the phases of visual interpretation. Although at first glance one can clearly recognize an image of a face as a portrait, the task of describing the visual information that makes up a portrait is much more difficult to do in an instant.  Even though we are presented with one unified visual image it can be described as consisting of individual parts, a subject that Brendan Johnston has described to us first year students at Grand Central Atelier.  In the simplest sense, what one sees consists of shapes, values and colors.  In the block-in those shapes undergo rounds of investigations to arrive at an understanding of the qualities of shapes.

As a first year student at Grand Central Atelier I have been practicing figure block-ins with the aid of my teachers, Brendan Johnston, Patrick Byrnes and Josh LaRock.  They have shared advice with me on an efficient approach to the block-in process that has been passed down through the teaching of Jacob Collins and other instructors.

The visual shapes one sees are inevitably tied to the structures that they are made of, such as the shape of an eye in shadow.  But this symbolic association of an eye in general can distract one's interpretations from observing the particular qualities of each shape.  Learning to see shapes in their purest and actual sense can be at first approached by breaking its line segments into the most clearly observed pattern.  Although the simplicity of the drawing in this stage may seem overly basic, the lines at this stage represent what I know about the shapes from initial investigation, a subject that Brendan Johnston has discussed with us first year students often.

 By the next phase of shape investigation I am  continuing to search for the specific qualities of shapes.  Although it is often tempting for me to declare that shape investigations are over early in the drawing process and launch into refining those shapes, this has often led me to represent symbolic generalizations of the structures that the shapes describe and has led to drawings that look less like the visual images that I see. In order to remain aware of the particular qualities of shapes requires an active openness to searching out the subtleties of each shape in the block in.

I had a discussion with Patrick Byrnes about what can help to retain an open awareness to the specific qualities of shapes and learned about the importance of searching for the exact shapes through constant questioning of all the shapes together.  Through continuing to question the particular qualities of shapes on the visual image the block-in becomes more clearly revealed.  The more the shapes are questioned through investigations the more truth is revealed in the answers found.

 After thorough investigation into the shapes, the block-in progresses by evaluating how the shapes correspond to the three dimensional structures they represent.  I  heard Josh LaRock comment on the importance of realizing when to switch to evaluation of  structures to develop a block-in past the shape phase.  Through interpreting each tilt of a shape as a segment of a plane as it corresponds to perspective and light effects, such as terminator and cast shadow edges, I could arrive at a more clear representation of the visual information that at first glance I actually was so unfamiliar with.

Below is an image of another portrait block-in drawn at Grand Central Atelier made using the same process.  Images of this process on figure drawings can be seen here.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Thank You

Thank you so much to everyone that was able to make it to the Salmagundi Junior & Scholarship Members Exhibition.  I really appreciated the support and met so many great people on the opening night.  I am also thankful to the Salmagundi Club for the generous award that I received for my drawing "Marie", shown below.

The exhibition is on display at the Salmagundi Club (47 Fifth Avenue, NYC 10003) until January 15th with gallery hours of Monday - Friday, 1 - 6 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 1 - 5 pm.