Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fashion Drawing I: It continues

What with all the snow we got on Tuesday, I was convinced that my trek to class the next day would feature less than pleasant conditions (again.) Imagine my surprise and delight when Wednesday dawned bright and sunny. Yes, it was bitterly, bitterly cold, but at least my inconveniently large newsprint pad wouldn't morph into a gigantic spitball between Bay Ridge and Union Square. So far the commute hasn't been bad at all. I leave work a half hour early (at 1:30, instead of my normal 2:00), and I've been getting to Union Square at around 2:30-ish, a half hour before class starts, leaving me plenty of time to walk to Parsons and wait around for one of the teeny-tiny elevators. (I wouldn't mind taking the stairs, except the room is on the eleventh floor, and even I'm not that keen.)

Once Prof. W arrived, we got going immediately with twenty 1-minute gesture drawings. We had a live model again, which was very nice. There's just something about having a real person to draw--you get so much more energy and authenticity in your work. One minute is really not a whole lot of time to sketch an entire person, so you've got to try and capture the movement and general pose of the figure in as few strokes as possible. At this point, I feel like what I lack most is consistency--some of my drawings are coming out pretty well, and others not so much. A lot of repetition and practice should take care of that, though.

After the warm-up, W lectured on a few points that had been covered in the homework. The fashion figure is a nearly imaginary one, an entire 1-2 heads longer than an actual person. What this means is that everything gets stretched out--the torso and the legs, in proportion to each other. The proportion is important because when eventually we move on to drawing clothed figures, there will be no way of knowing where the hem on a skirt falls unless the knees are placed at the correct distance from the crotch. Ditto with sleeves and elbows, and the myriad other measurements that must be taken into account when the fashion drawing is adapted into a physical piece of clothing. The point of the fashion figure is to be a sort of living clothes hanger, and to show off the design, not the figure underneath. Drawings without a figure underneath are referred to as "flats," since they are depictions of the garment flat (i.e. not being worn.)

We moved on to 3-minute sketches, which is still not a whole heck of a lotta time. Still, you can get a more complete figure on the page. It's really easy to get overwhelmed and a little freaked out during these exercises. The models use this horrible timer that beeps when time's up, and if you've already filled up your page you have to turn your pad over, trying not to hit your neighbors or knock any of the accumulated table detritus (pencil shavings, eraser crumbs, paper peeled from your charcoal pencil) all over the place. Occasionally I have to remind myself to breath, to relax, and to remember that I like drawing, that drawing is fun!

We stopped again after the 3-minute sketches and W gave us all some notes. Something I struggled with was making my figures long enough, and after he pointed out that I wasn't using up the entire page, I immediately saw my figures start to improve. We moved on to doing 5-minute sketches, which felt like a luxuriously long time compared to the one minute we started class with. The increased amount of time was not the only improving factor in these drawings though; at this point we had all "gotten our eye in" with all of the sketching sessions up to this point.

The last session was also composed of 5-minute intervals, but this time we had to use a piece of colored chalk to draw in the main line of movement and weight in the figure, before sketching in the actual features. I think the figures on the far right and far left in the below photo were my best attempts.

In addition to the twenty pages from the textbook W assigned for homework, we also have to "correct" three of the figures we did in class, which means making sure they conform to the correct proportions and look balanced and just better in general. I'm sort of glad this is the only class I'm taking this semester--I don't know how I'd get through all this work otherwise! I've literally been putting in a couple of hours every day and I've only gotten through ten of the textbook pages. Hopefully I can get through another five tonight, five tomorrow, and then do the corrected figures on Tuesday. Phew!

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