Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Old Man Mad About Drawing (Hokusai)

I'm fond of paraphrasing this (badly) but it's about time I stop mangling the master's words and let him speak for himself. If you've asked how long it takes to get good at drawing, here's the simple answer.

 

“From the age of 6 I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things.


When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs. 


But all I have done before the the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. 


At 75 I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. 


When I am 80 you will see real progress. 


At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. 


At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. 


At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. 


To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign my self 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing.”
Hokusai Katsushika















Got 5 minutes? Treat yourself to this delightful little documentary:

Monday, March 7, 2016

What's New for 2016

Been a while since I updated the blog! I actually have a bunch of half-finished articles I think you'll find really useful, but it's been so busy, I haven't had a chance, and I'm kind of a stickler about making them the best articles I can. But I'm making a point of catching up! Stay tuned for more fun articles to come.

We have a couple of new, fun offerings for 2016:

Single Pose Class We're now presenting a 2 hour long, single pose class. It's a great opportunity to really hunker down and develop your visual acuity and get a very detailed, finished drawing. One nude model in a single pose for two hours (with a break every 20 minutes). We're currently doing it twice a month on Thursdays.

Classes WITH Instruction If you'd like a little formal instruction (or a lot), these classes are great. We have a nude model, and each class begins with some very basic exercises, and tips to help you capture the figure on paper and maybe see a little differently. These classes are usually pretty small, so you can get plenty of individual attention.

Special Events We're planning them now for the warmer weather! I hate to give too many specifics before they're finalized, but most likely you can expect more art sails aboard the Schooner Pioneer, Some unusual art workshops, and some social gatherings. And we;ll continue to list third-party events around town that may be of interest to our meetup members, even the ones that we don't organize.

Old Favorites We're still doing Sunday afternoon sketching featuring a nude model in an academic figure sketching class with both short and long poses, and our ever-popular draw-a-thon Draw-mania! that combines a variety show with a drawing event.

To find out all about these events join our Meetup group http://www.meetup.com/FigureSketching-NYC
It's free to join and will keep you updated with all our fun events.



Is there some kind of art event that you'd like to see us offering? Let us know! If it's possibly of interest to our membership we'd like to know!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Video from our first Art Sail of 2015

Our next Draw-mania! Art Sail will be July 26th. 2015, and you can find out more about it here:
http://www.meetup.com/FigureSketching-NYC/events/223571674/

But if you'd like to see a little live-action feedback first, have a look at our video:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Draw-mania! Sail 1 Sunday, June 28th.

 We had our first sail of 2015 (we plan to have several more this year). The weather was threatening -- in fact, when I arrived at the boat, it was misty and drizzly and looked like it wanted to pour. I had serious doubts, but we were already here and the boat was ready to sail. Due to the weather, we had a smaller than usual crowd, but everyone was excited to get out on the water.
The Schooner Pioneer is a big, old fashioned sailing vessel built 130 years ago to haul sand for an iron foundry, and not much has changed on the boat since it's working days. We motored away from the port, and then the crew enlisted some volunteers to help haul up the sails. And then the sun came out! The weather quickly and inexplicably became bright and clear, for the most part. The models posed around the deck, and the artists had to decide whether to draw the unique Manhattan skyline, the boat in operation, the models or all of it. Tough decisions artists have to make.
Below are a few highlights from the event. We'll be sailing again on Sunday, July 26th.--come join us!
You can find out more at
www.draw-mania.com
http://www.meetup.com/FigureSketching-NYC
www.facebook.com/drawmania










Monday, June 22, 2015

Draw-mania! sail Sunday, June 28th! 1-3pm.

Remember last year's Draw-mania! on the Water sail? The one on a 129 year old cast iron schooner that featured three art models and has a sell-out crowd of 40 artists on it? We sailed all around the tip of Manhattan? Well, We're doing it AGAIN!! Sunday, June 28th 2015, 1-3pm aboard the Schooner Pioneer. It's gonna be a blast!
This event brought to you in conjunction with The South Street Seaport Museum and Th Art Student's League.

(can't make it? don't fret, we'll be doing it several more times this summer. Keep an eye on our Meetup site).
http://www.meetup.com/FigureSketching-NYC/events/223123168/

 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

We're Back At Sea! (Well, the Hudson River)..

Last August, we took the action onto the water-- three models and 45 artists, all on a 100+ year old schooner that went out around the tip of Manhattan for two hours. It was so popular, it sold out in 3 days!

You know we had to do it again! You can read all about it below, but if you just want the dates:
June 21 (Sunday, 1-3pm.)
July 26 (Sunday, 1-3pm.)
August 16 or 23 (Sunday, 1-3pm.)
September, weather permitting..
(Dates are subject to change, based on weather or other factors)
Ticket information will be posted Monday (Price ranging $35-$45)
For more info: http://www.meetup.com/FigureSketching-NYC/events/223123168/




It was so popular last year, we had to do it again!  Draw-mania! takes to the waters with a 2-hour art sail aboard the Schooner Pioneer! Join us for a fun and relaxing sail around the tip of Manhattan on one of the most scenic and historic boats afloat, with three inspiring figure models on deck!! How much fun will that be?
Bring your own art materials and refreshments of your choice, and expect to have a great time!

Made possible with the cooperation of Draw-Mania! and The Art Students League of New York.
South Street Seaport Museum's Schooner PIONEER and Draw-Mania!, the long-running downtown draw-a-thon and variety show, will be offering artists, art students, and others, the opportunity to sketch during a two-hour Pioneer sail.

Attractions Include:
Three live art models, the harbor, shoreline, other boats, Pioneer, and the crew as they sail PIONEER.
You will be provided with extra water, paper towels, a place to keep work till ashore, and once ashore, fixative for those who wish to use it.
Please bring your own materials, bearing in mind that there will be no space for easels.

See the sights of New York Harbor from the decks of the historic 130-year-old schooner PIONEER. The vessel, first launched in 1885, was built as an iron-hulled sloop to carry cargo along the Delaware River and was even featured in the pilot of Boardwalk Empire. Bring a picnic lunch, afternoon snack or favorite beverage as you enjoy sketching and your sail!

Special Draw-mania! price: $45 ($35 for Seaport Museum members)


Schooner Pioneer, (c) Jeff Sauber

All sales are final. There are no refunds or exchanges for tickets once purchased.

Weather:
We will sail in shine only at sail time. If rain occurs during the sail, but the captain deems the waters safe, or that it is a passing storm, the sail will continue. In case of continuous rain, the captain will return to dock. If the sail runs for less than an hour, passengers may reschedule for a rain date art sail. If the sail runs for more than an hour, no exchanges will be offered. In the event there is weather that is determined by the Captain to be unsafe, the sail will be canceled. Purchaser is then entitled to re-schedule at another time or credit towards another sail that can be purchased in the future. All weather related decisions are made as close to the time of sail as possible. If the sail is canceled, all online ticket buyers will be notified via email at the email address they provided when they purchased tickets.
Venue Details:
PIER 16 SOUTH STREET SEAPORT MUSEUM
Pier 16
New York NY 10038
SOUTH STREET SEAPORT MUSEUM
12 FULTON STREET
NEW YORK CITY, NY 10038

www. southstreetseaportmuseum.org Home of the 1885 Schooner PIONEER, Tall Ships America's Sail Training Program of the Year!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Another Perspective on Van Gogh

V. Van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1889
CLICK on all art to enlarge!
No question that Facebook has been cutting into my blog writing, but here's a blog post inspired by an on-line discussion of Van Gogh, and I think it extends into the whole media perception of artists, visual and even musical and film: we love our artists tortured.

There's no better tortured artist than Van Gogh, and for a century, we've speculated on just how tortured he was. Certainly, he had issues. His depressions are well documented, and there's evidence that he was self destructive, possibly to the point of losing an ear (though a recent theory blames Gauguin for cutting it off!).

But does his art, with it's explosions of color and strangely tight, yet disconnected, strokes reflect the breakup of his wits? Some have suggested it's a reflection of his world breaking up around him. Some have suggested he suffered from astigmatism and couldn't see clearly (then how could he see the canvas well enough to put the pain on it?). Perhaps signs of absinthe poisoning?

If you follow the textbooks you know it's any or all of these things. BUT...

If you're an artist, you know that art is a discipline more than anything. To get better at expressing yourself, even unleashing your inner demons, you have to develop a skill and a technique and that can take years. Besides, Making art makes you feel GOOD. Even if you, or Vincent, are having a terrible time, spending a few hours just painting or drawing is a wonderful escape. It's calming and, as I like to say, it's like running a comb through your brain.

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. I saw the things you never see-- his beginning paintings, the art that influenced him, and he was placed within the context of HIS period, and not ours. And a very different Vincent emerged.
According to my friend: "...when you look at the development of his artistic style over the course of his career, his illness manifests itself very clearly in his brushstrokes and use of colors..."
To which I say: "Sure it would seem so, but when you go to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam you find a bunch of interesting things that dispel the myths. There's a wall of his paintings as a beginning artist. He starts out pretty average, but works with great discipline, producing up to three paintings a day, just to develop his skill. A lot of people forget that art is a skill that requires years to develop, both technically and strategically. 

Left, Woodblock print by the Japanese Master Hiroshige.
Right, Van Gogh's painting of the same

Secondly, Japanese woodblock prints (Hiroshige, et al) were taking Europe by storm due to the vividness or their colors and the use of broad, flat abstract areas of color, in contrast to the typical earthy European pallet (and consider how dark and moody the Dutch pallet had been prior to that modern age. There are paintings where Van Gogh copies Japanese prints, and paints in the style of those prints to learn how to use colors in that way. (you don't see those outside of the museum, much). The Asian influence, along with the desire to shock the establishment, were the biggest influences on impressionism. In that regard, he was just going along with the rest of the kids. And then there was the German influence. At the same time the Impressionists were horrifying the art world with their raw imagery, German chemical companies had discovered how to produce vivid colors that fueled the impressionists' madness.

And finally, he and his brother Theo owned an extensive collection of Gustav Dore's etchings, and you can find that illustrative style of strokes used by Van Gogh in both his drawings and in his paintings, where he was a pioneer of "non-painting" brushwork, but not the only one in his day (look at Seurat's pointillistic paintings).  
 
One of Van Gogh's drawings, utilizing the same kind
of strokes he used to apply paint.
Drawing of Montmajour.

Van Gogh may have suffered from debilitating mental issues, but he was also an extremely disciplined, dedicated pioneer."

I'd also go so far as to reiterate that
I'm not sure whether his art was the expression of the illness or an escape from it.  


Dore's original
"Prisoner's Exercising."

Van Gogh's painting of Dore's
"Prisoners Exercising"

Images from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Are you more curious? Check out the museum's website: http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en

Special thanks to Carl Allen Salonen.