OK there has been a bit of a gap in the Singapore saga, a result of problems uploading my posts while traveling, traveling in general and having other things to do, like traveling. So now the big catch up.
Day 3 in Singapore saw me in a workshop with Melanie Reim, titled ‘Found in Translation – The influence of Calligraphy on Gesture in the Figure‘, exploring how we can use the influence of calligraphic marks to make lively sketches. Melanie walked us through some of the calligraphic styles found around the world and then showed us the work of artists who have used this approach. You may like to check out the work of Ben Shahn or David Stone Martin.
We were encouraged to draw using shorter, more graphically interesting lines. This is in contrast to the way I usually draw with a continuous line. As Melanie said we should look at the joints of arms and legs and the shift of weight in the body as the point where you could use a calligraphic mark to indicate the body’s movement. The other instruction she gave us was to use the notes she had provided to find the marks that might suit what we were drawing. This proved to be good advice – I don’t know about you, but I am prone to believe I’ve taken the information in and don’t need the prompt of notes – wrong!
We started with faces and bodies, the challenge was to draw 20 faces and 20 bodies in 40 minutes. Ohhh Kayyy – using a brush pen (Pentel) I got underway.
The note to myself about holding the brush was a reminder that if I used the brush as I would normally hold a pen to write I got very uniform strokes. I recalled that on the odd occasion when I have taken a calligraphy lesson I have to hold the brush in a vertical position, using my thumb and forefinger. This way I can get both thick and thin lines and a much wider range of pressure in one stroke.
After this first exercise we collected for a quick review of what we had learned and some advice on how we might better apply the ideas and techniques.
Our second exercise was to draw a scene using calligraphic marks and incorporating figures in the scene. One tip that Melanie gave us was to place an interesting figure in the foreground to help draw the viewer into the image. Just when I was asking myself “will I see someone take an ‘interesting’ stance?”, that person materialised in front of me. In my case a young man walked by with a bag held up on his shoulder – perfect! I was positioned outside the Chinese temple so I had lots of colour and movement to include in the drawing. I also, usefully, had the view-finder that Virginia gave us the day before to help focus in on my subject.
I liked how Melanie’s calligraphic figurative style worked so well with Virginia’s teaching from the day before on using light and darks. I was really pleased with the resulting drawing.
The next day we found ourselves in a local food court where we could sit and sketch while eating our Bandung bean curd, (a rose-flavoured dessert rather like a junket). Again Marc Taro Holmes’ lessons and Melanie’s gestural lines proved to be a good fit.