Sunday, August 26, 2007

Memory Lane

I know that the ability to observe and analyze well is an important quality for a variety of professions. My belief is that it’s largely undervalued. However, for some people it can become an obsession. I am in constant danger of becoming one of those individuals.

When I work from life I tend to become deeply interested in fully understanding my subject matter and what better way to prove that you understand it than to render it perfectly. Understanding how the eye perceives and nature works is important to me but it’s more important to make a picture that communicates what I want it to. Sometimes I forget this. This goes back to my early days when I was first learning to draw.

When I was very young I wanted to draw well. Right away I felt limited with my number two pencil. As hard as I pushed it to the paper, it only got so dark. To reflect nature I needed something to create darker areas. Even with the pale drawings I did people told me that I drew well and they readily recognized the faces in my little portraits. It wasn’t till I was in high school that I learned about softer leads. As an adult I continue to be shocked by the things I don’t know, especially when it involves art and art making. I’m vastly ignorant and forgetful. Worst of all, I sometimes forget how little I know.

Recently a friend gave me a bunch of my art he’d been storing for me in his attic. I kept meaning to pick it up and in the meantime 25 years went by. That illustrates the level of procrastination I’m prone to. I’d also forgotten what he had. It was a lot of stuff and it went back to work I’d done in high school. Above is one of those drawings.

If you look closely, you can see that I made a mistake in this exercise to copy a picture from National Geographic. The hands are different proportions. At the time I drew from the top of the page to the bottom completing each section as I went. If you see the original (15 X 24”), the drawing nearly touches the top and the bottom of the page. It never occurred to me to leave some space for a mat and frame. I made some very nice observations with this drawing in terms of values though.

This drawing was in the portfolio of my work that was entered in the Florida State Fair art competition. I won that competition and a scholarship to Syracuse University. That was something of a miracle and it changed the direction of my life. Very sad days ensued so it has been quite painful to go through all that old art. Three boxes of it had been sitting in the guest room for months till I worked up the courage to go through it in a thorough way.

PS: My blog has been stuck in limbo. Sorry for that. I hope to post some vacations pictures on Shutterbuggy Kidd soon though. There’s plenty of new art to post too.


Blogger tlchang said...

It's nice to see that you haven't fallen off the face of the planet.

Hope things are good.

3:52 AM  
Blogger Leslie Sealey said...

Hi Tom, it's good to see you back! I also took a long break and now I'm trying to get back in the swing of things. Intersting post; it is funny how little "rendering" is needed to make something believable.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Ramsés Meléndez said...

Great illustrations

2:38 AM  
Blogger Donald Wienand said...

hi tom,
I actually like the drawing much, lets me have some memories of my old pencil drawings too..
but u know what? I did those kind of proportion-mistakes too but never worried about when I was young and i tend to think that it kept me away from judge to hard on the drawing (composition-wise) rather just let it go and dream away in nice shadings, fold, texture, hair ect..
So much drawing courses or teachers tend to mention those proportion things but I tend to thing that expecialy those things (composition, proportion ect.) dont make a painting at all but (on the other hand) its worth knowing and draw attention to it. :).

12:28 AM  
Blogger George Cwirko-Godycki said...

i like that drawing lots

12:07 PM  
Blogger sandy said...

This is fantastic! sandy

3:41 PM  
Blogger Mark Reep said...

Great drawing, Tom- Easy to understand how you won that competition with it. Very cool too- even if there is sadness associated with those years and work- that you have this piece that became a Y in your path, a door, maybe to the rest of your life.

Maybe I'm being overly dramatic, assuming way too much here :) But anyhoo thanks for sharing the piece, and its story.

About realizing, and forgetting how little we actually know- Yeah, me too. And making art's the least of me worries there :) I've been thinking about that a lot, actually, probably gonna find its way into a Telan piece shortly.

Glad you're back, Tom-
All the best :)

1:06 PM  

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