Sunday, August 5, 2012

AN EYE FOR DETAIL

A TRAINED EYE


Study in Urban Portraiture of Modern Tribal Symbology
photo by Elizabeth Gordon
As artists we are trained to look, to look closely, to look slowly, as if a microscope honing in on an obscure detail.  We must see so many things, the line that bumps and turns and fragments along the contour of an object no matter how large or small.  It is the secret to drawing, learning to see, really see.  We think we see, but when we train ourselves, or are trained in art class then we realize there was a whole world we never saw before.   Painters see the detail of color, sculptures see shape and form.  I remember one of the exercises in art classes to help one compose a scene and focus in on certain area.  Take a small square of cardboard, cut out the center in a square also.  Then hold it up at what ever you are looking at and it well help you frame the most interesting composition you are looking at.  Another exercise we are all familiar with is blind contour...to draw a subject without ever looking down at your paper.  At first it is hilarious at first, the with repetition it gets better and better.  You will learn to slow down and really see.  Another exercise is to take a photo or picture, turn it upside down, now draw it.  It is the same picture, the same lines, nothing has changed, only your perspective.  For those of you interested in improving you drawing skills and are a novice I recommend Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  It is filled with exercised I had in college to train your eye.  If you are not a novice and still need to reboot you skills there is nothing better to sign up for a live figure drawing class.  Like any art, it takes constant practice to keep you skill sharp.  In teaching small children to draw I had a formula that I found to work.  I ask the kids to focus on the general shape, whether it was square, oval, circle, rectangle or triangle.  Sketch it out lightly, then look closer....look where the shapes may blend a bit, sketch in, now look at the contour lines around the shapes and slowly sketch in.  It worked well with even with kindergarteners. It trained their eyes to see as artists do. I will always be thankful for the early training of an artist who was trained at the Bauhaus in Germany.  Thank you Christopher Clark, what you taught me as a teenager did me well my whole art career and a Mother who worked extra jobs to pay for my art classes.
When taking photo's my eyes are often attracted to detail..texture line, color or a combination of all.  In this photo there was so much going on...the color of the tattoo's, the shape of the leg bend, the texture of the stone counter...but of course it goes well beyond a study in detail, it speaks of modern culture, tribal symbology, and the human form in space.  Take out your camera, go on an artists journey with yourself, and look for those details, you will come up with some gems that will really surprise you.  
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