Monday, March 27, 2017

Shadows and Gesture

As I watched my children playing outside in today's nice, springtime weather, I noticed my shadow laid out on the ground  in front of me. My mind wandering as it does, I began studying the contours of this naturally occurring silhouette and something about it struck me as interesting.

When drawing, artists resort to making an average of features in order to make simple, clear statements on their percieved rythm in forms. This is what we call gesture (which I hypothesize is ultimately the whole of drawing, that is, progressively smaller applications of gesture.) Surprisingly, I observed typical gestures of form in my shadow that I normally observe in drawings. Something about the slightly diffuse penumbra, the blurring of subtle disruptions in the contour of my shape had recreated the same types of lines I've witnessed in many man made artworks.

It occurred to me that this could be a great way to study rythm in form. In a sense it should be no surprise, as artists have long done something similar in drawing silhouettes to test the effectiveness of their drawn shapes. But to my knowledge, I don't know of anyone who has studied cast shadows of subjects in order to produce reference for averaged rythms of form.

By adjusting the size and sharpness of the cast shadow, it may be possible to obtain naturally produced averages in shape in order to better inform your drawings.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Defeating the Canvas

I've discovered a Japanese tv show called Urasawa Naoki no Manben in which the titular and excellent mangaka visits his comic making colleagues to discuss previously filmed footage of said colleagues doing their daily work. It's fascinating for anyone who is at all interested in art and comics. Among the many interesting things discussed by the stars of this show, one recurring concept is something I've also heard from many artists I've talked with over the years. That would be fear of the blank canvas.
When an artist stares into the blank stage upon which his work will later be revealed,  he can be struck with intimidation. The paper is meaningless, but has infinite potential for meaning. The variables that must be considered in filling that stage can be cosmicly astounding. It is Musashi's void, an emptiness where from answers may be drawn if only you resolutely dare to enter and begin searching. There is an unknown and possibly uncountable number of questions within yet to be answered. Not the least of which is this:
"Can I do this?"
Even these mangaka, some of which are possibly among the most prolific drawers to ever live, must still confront this question every time they sit down to do what they have done for years. I too, know this battle well.
I will offer you this advice in confronting the void in the canvas. First, obtain some direction in your mind, as clear as can be without wasting time. You merely need a direction to guide you and you can always decide to travel elsewhere once you are on the road.
After this, you should dive in.
Dive in boldly. Thrust about in the void, searching for answers. Embrace the emptiness and revel in the potential. If you are drawing, just start making marks. If you are writing, just start saying something. Even if you are utterly lost, just launch your attack. The only other options are to flee or delay the confrontation, the former being the better of alternatives. But, the most excellent way is to boldly cross the threshold and let yourself plummet freely into the abyss.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Vilppuian Symmetry

Having recently encountered On The Practice and Science of Drawing  (now one of my absolute favorite books,) I've been inspired to revisit other resources in light of what I've just read. In this pursuit I found myself observing the work of Glenn Vilpuu as he expounded on those ovoid and spherical forms so characteristic of his drawings.

As is so often the case when revisiting topics you supposedly already know well, I was suddenly struck with realization of why he favored these shapes. The sphere could not lend itself more perfectly to a sense of symmetry, while simultaneously being perfectly simple to sketch.

This impressed upon me to do some sketching with particular mind to the symmetry of primary shapes I use in my drawings, rather than leaving symmetry as something to be later considered in a refining stage. It is an excellent way to focus on the voluminous nature of your drawing. By constructing shapes with particular regard to parallel surfaces (given that all simple forms must have these) before perpendicular ones, you will find yourself more thoughtful of volume thoughout your drawing process.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

On Resident Evil 7

So, is it Resident Evil VII or 7? The logo says VII, but then the hashtag was RE7, and the others did not use roman numerals...anyway.

I estimate we are at least halfway through Resident Evil 7 and I am pleased to say that nearly every concern I had about the game has been assuaged. It is exceptional and probably the best horror game I have played in many, many years.

Of the essential aesthetic properties I previously discussed, only two seem to have failed to fully materialize during my time with the game thus far. These would be A) camp and B) the "spec ops vs bio-abominations" theme. Of these remaining essentials, A is very, very weakly still present and I am reliably informed via internet spoilers and certain in-game hints that B will indeed rise from the dead before the end of the game.

Interestingly enough about property A: although I think it is essential in maintaining the Resi Spirit, this game is written so well and the tone is so expertly crafted that I almost don't even miss it. In fact, when the player character Ethan eventually DOES punctuate a ghastly scenario with some gauche piece of dialogue it actually feels out of place instead of cathartic. For an RE sequel, this is truly bizarre!

Complaints not regarding it's proper conformation to the Resi Spirit are minor, entirely forgivable, and easily rectified should a similar title follow in it's footsteps. For instance, the admittedly horrifying fodder which accounts for all non-boss-type encounters are greatly lacking in variety. Even so, they are a welcome and cathartic relief to the high-stakes gameplay revolving around the more dangerous and well developed enemy characters. This is the only sort of half-complaint I can muster at this time.

If you are a Resident Evil fan, rejoice; The future is suddenly grim again.