Form over Composition, Stupid!

Sketching in the Man Cave

Sketching in the Man Cave

Getting Used to Charcoal Materials

Getting Used to Charcoal Materials

You must be able to copy nature before you have the right to translate it in your own language.

Antoine Bourdelle

The above quote was from the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle who had been trained by Auguste Rodin. He was passing that advice on to the young Joseph Campbell, and today I spent quite a lot of time reading Joseph Campbell material.  The quote above I take to heart, because I recognize the necessity of developing a skill set for copying objects as they appear to us.  On that note, I confess that I still do not draw enough, and I’ve been bothered by that fact enough over the past several weeks to correct some bad habits.

In the Man Cave, I’ve been assembling a still life for my next serious full-size watercolor.  Today I sat down to the drafting table and attempt to sketch the composition with vine charcoal, and did not like the results.  About an hour after I had given up on the task, it occurred to me that I was trying to sketch the entire composition, not the individual objects.  I felt stupid. In my A.P. Art History classes, I try to get my students to focus on the individual forms that create an oveall composition rather than try to comprehend the entire work from the initial sighting.  And here I was today, trying to study the entire subject instead of focusing on small areas.  I went back into the Cave later this afternoon and tried a fresh start, beginning with just the coffee can, and then trying out the coffee pot:

Simplifying my Study

Simplifying my Study

Now I’m feeling better about the direction I’m taking.  I’ll get to the overall composition when I’m ready, and make some decisions on how I want this watercolor to emerge.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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One Response to “Form over Composition, Stupid!”

  1. LucyJartz Says:

    Your decision to draw more and focus on indivisual elements appealed to me. Your art catches the essential so well without overburdening the details.

    It was interesting to get a glimpse of your studio cave as well. Mine has been recently disrupted. Since moving, some of my materials are unavailable in the unpacked clutter. Although the things I use most are accessible, I am having trouble getting my thoughts organized.


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