Thursday, October 14, 2010
Lie Down. Relax. Go To Sleep.
For the model, reclining poses are sometimes very easy and relaxing. Depends on the pose, obviously, but since I look for more natural poses, I tend to direct them that way. I'm not particularly a good director, so I rely a lot on the models to give me what feels natural and unforced. Needless to say, I value competence in models. It ain't an easy job, that's for sure.
For the painter –in a classroom set up, anyway–a reclining pose can be very challenging. Suddenly there are all these unfamiliar angles and foreshortening that you never had to deal with in a simple upright pose, and it really tests your drawing skills.
In a classroom, there are only few lines of sight where you don't get difficult foreshortening challenges. While some are up to the challenge and actually like the extreme angles, many less experienced students find only frustration with a reclining pose.
In this particular painting, I had one of the more direct, easier angles, which suited me fine. The challenge for me, was that the figure gave me this snaking M shaped thing- from the elbow to the shoulder, down the torso, and to the leg. It just looked like a really boring composition on my canvas, so I had to figure out ways to break that shape up. I tried light background, dark background, losing edges, changing shadow shapes...
It was a three hour pose and I couldn't resolve it in that time so I worked on it a few more hours at home. Only when I no longer had the model to look at, was I able to see the painting in the abstract and make some big changes. It was a big reminder that having the reference available - whether it's a live model or a photograph, really limits my ability to freely change what I have on my canvas. I can't paint a figure like that strictly from memory, but when it comes to making decisions in the abstract, I have to put away the reference to switch gears.
Speaking of big changes, what finally worked was to change the figure's gender. You see, the model we had was male, and very angular and sinewy, with more muscle definition. Hard to explain without a "before" picture, but his form contributed to the funny composition. In the end, I gave it a more rounded, fuller form, with a suggestion of a breast. I could have made her more curvaceous, I suppose, but I decided it was unnecessary.
This one did not under go any sex changes. She's a beautiful model but built more like a runway model. I wasn't sure if I could get into painting her nude, what with those really long arms and legs - I don't particularly want to paint Barbie Dolls, in other words. But reclined and twisted, she looked great.
Come paint with me. On Fridays, I paint at The School of Light and Color in Fair Oaks, CA. We have a model, sometimes nude, sometimes clothed. 10am - 1pm. $10. No instruction. Bring your own materials, including a portable easel.
I also have a few spots in my weekly figure painting class which happens on Wednesday afternoons. I demos and provide individual instruction for this one. $144 / 4 sessions. You don't have to be "already good" (if you are, you don't need my class!) but some experience with oil paints is highly recommended. We've got a fun and supportive group and nobody will bite :-)
Since space is limited, you do have to sign up to take this class. Please contact the School for more info and to register:
The School of Light and Color
10030 Fair Oaks Blvd.
Fair Oaks, CA 95628
Posted by Terry at 10:03 AM