Go Figure

A central component of Western art history has been the study of the human figure from living model.  Not only has drawing the human form been considered crucial to the developing skills of an artist, the model has historically served as inspiration and muse for artists from the Renaissance onward.

A live model brings an energy to the room, to the artist, and ultimately to the work that other subjects do not. It is an intangible force that can literally enliven the marks on the page.

We are fortunate to have a fabulous model in our midst,  Autumn, who will be modeling for us this week.  She helps to bring us that “buzz”. If you surrender to a connection to this power and are not too concerned with proper proportion, how to draw a face or fingers, etc. you may be surprised to see El duende emerge.

For the uninitiated: “El duende is the spirit of evocation. It comes from inside as a physical/emotional response (sic). It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive.

The meaning of duende as in tener duende (having duende) is a difficult-to-explain (sic) concept in Spanish art, particularly flamenco, having to do with emotion, expression and authenticity. In fact, tener duende can be loosely translated as having soul.” (courtesy of Wikipedia)

We are going to combine working from the model with working from the masters.  In the last couple weeks we have been scrutinizing and studying masterworks to begin a painting. Utilizing their structure and interpreting their vision created some unique, sophisticated artwork. (Pics of the works in progress for this exercise can be seen on a previous blog- Works in Progress for “Under the Influence” . “Finished” works will be posted later as they are more fully resolved.)

Continuing that thread, look at how artists you admire have painted the figure. Note the space it occupies.  Is it architectural, ephemeral or imaginary? Where/ how does the figure fit on the page? Is there a narrative content or an especially expressive manner of applying the paint? Is it “carved” into the bigger whole?  Has it been edited to flat shapes and planes of color?  Below are links to some examples, gather others as you like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Henri_Rousseau_005.jpg







Following are quotes that illustrate the attitude of some other artists about the model:

“I try to keep my sitters moving and talking, to make them forget they are being painted. This has nothing to do with extracting intimate secrets or confessions, but rather with establishing, in motion, an essential image of the kind that remains in memory or recurs in dreams. I could not do this if my sitter had to keep still … or to hold a stiff pose until we were both sick of it. A person is not a still-life – not even a dead person.”
Oskar Kokoschka, 1974.  http://www.gseart.com/artworks/artview.asp?ArtID=21&scale=0

 “The aura given out by a person or object is as much a part of them as their flesh. The effect that they make in space is as bound up with them as might be their colour or smell … Therefore the painter must be as concerned with the air surrounding his subject as with the subject itself. It is through observation and perception of atmosphere that he can register the feeling that he wishes his painting to give out.”
Lucien Freud, 1954. http://0.tqn.com/d/painting/1/0/t/o/1/Leigh-Sofa-s.jpg

“Cézanne rushed forward: ‘You wretch! You have upset the pose! You should sit like an apple. Whoever saw an apple fidgeting?’ Motionless as that fruit may be, Cézanne was sometimes obliged to leave a study of apples unfinished. They had rotted.”
Ambroise Vollard, 1936, on posing for Paul Cézanne. http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Jun-2009/131562-470.jpg  (Look at his figures–He may have “invented the apple”, but human beings shouldn’t be painted like apples. According to many accounts, he didn’t like people much. I think it shows.)

As always we will begin with warm-ups  setting the mood for the “Duende to come down.” Try to come to class relaxed and open to experiencing the whole being more than the sum of its parts.

Model fee $6.00–please bring cash.

See you soon, j.

Ps. As a challenge, try to put all the images in the links in chronological  order.

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