Thursday, February 13, 2014

I wanna get next to you

uh oh! FOV > 60º
Sitting too close to portray on flat paper a scene that requires moving one's head up and down or side to side. Where do we see this? In facsimiles of spaces too small or too large to be readily observed. Drawing on-site under this self-imposed condition, I could not keep the image within the bounds of the paper. Those darn charcoal lines kept extending beyond the paper. I schlepped bigger and bigger paper to the site but was limited to the armpit-to-fingertips size of board I could carry. No whole-body involvement on that size paper! Then there's this kind of drawing. Sheesh. Not necessarily reporting a visual field.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

a slight to the throne

the throne tree
Fun translation experiment! In a recent batch of studies that are up now at 95 Third, I tried to draw something that's  impossible to see without moving one's head up and down, adding not only a third dimension to be translated, but the element of time.  A wide-angle lens photo would yield a fish-eyed image. Drawing this ventures outside the realm of linear perspective. In the companion drawing to this, straight lines did end up curving. Trees don't have ruler-straight lines however, so where might a warp take place? I was curious. The drawing only resembles the throne tree if you are standing an arm's length away, when viewer's head must also move to take in the whole picture. From across the room, the drawn tree appears stunted.  It might only do justice to its subject in a constrained space, such as a stairwell landing or short hallway. There is a line of inquiry about "correct" viewing distance of pictures that is informed by optics and constrained by the arm length of the picture-maker.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

cool fire

MLH hanging the drawings on 3 Feb

Once a week I lead a class at UC Berkeley Extension, offering students tools to visually explore concepts for the use of space, and to efficiently communicate their ideas with drawings. Something that makes UC Extension different: instructors have day jobs in related fields and do the instructing on the side. We bring biased, contemporary, practical experience to students. 

In Fall 2014 some of the classes will move to 160 Spear, and for Spring 2015 all Extension action moves to the new digs on Spear Street. I look forward to meeting new students there every semester.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

tangled up in conté

There are just five drawings in that front room at 95 3rd Street, SF. Two have blue sky, but all are charcoal, and just a bit of other color. Like Gretel leaving breadcrumbs to find her way home, a spot of rust crayon left here and there helps me find a recently-drawn branch after looking at the real tangle. I like that intense looking -- in small doses! Perspective construction -- the nerdy sister of drawing from source -- requires a similar tracking: putting families of lines in distinct colors, to locate them within the tangle of a scene. Drawing without a visual model sometimes feels like all geometry and no sensation. Charcoal makes a dusty, strokey noise, and drawing outdoors magnifies the in-the-world-ness of the process. It can't help but leave traces of where I got lost or changed my mind. Can someone who wasn't there sense the process of that quiet tracking of spatial relations by looking at the drawing? If you get a chance to see the drawings let me know.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

We are so lucky to have the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Over the past 7 years I've admired a particular stand of trees on a section of the trail in Tilden Park. On a fogless afternoon last summer, I was struck by the stark beauty of one Monterey Pine that had given itself over to insects and fungus. The next day, on the way to a meeting in San Francisco, I glimpsed a scene down Stevenson Alley that was humming the same tune: similar color palette, quality of light and vertical format. In my free time, I started taking bigger and bigger paper up the hill to explore the scene in charcoal
I've always been interested in drawing scenes that are too big to take in with a single shot. On flat paper, how does one enact a truce between the geometry of perspective and 3D input from the senses? This interest has sustained my career as a visual storyteller and explorer of volumetric scenes. For the rest of this month, 5 charcoal drawings are in the gallery of UC Berkeley Extension (just a block away from Stevenson Alley). Take a look if you have a chance and say hello. I'll be there every Thursday in February from 4-6:15pm.

a Circle Game

Hanks & Belliston's how-to on freehand perspective, Rapid Viz, gets sketchers right into the swing of non-source, freehanded rectilinear objects, macro and micro. For the built environment, it's What The People Want. One oversimpification they made --and it's hard to delete from students' learning-- is their representation of our field of view as one circle. That's only true for cyclopses! The boiled-down geometry of perspective provides a round-edged image such as a pinhole camera print, based on ONE unmoving eye--not two moving cameras with adjustable focus, which is what our two eyes are always streaming. For some reason we like our pictures with straight sides, so cropping a perspective construction is the next step, a move unconnected to linear perspective, but crucial to clear communication.