Faces are so complex I find it hard to draw them small. Working at about twice life size gives enough room for my hand to delineate the shapes I see, using the blunt crayons that are my favored tool. The enlarged scale makes the images imposing even when seen from a distance.
This is Tram, one of the older professional artists’ models working in New York. His aquiline nose and great white beard make for a picture of gravitas, but he can also have a more impish quality. Here are two quicker sketches of Tram:
Tram Profile, 2009, by Fred Hatt
Tram Face Front, 2009, by Fred Hatt
Here are some other large-scale portrait drawings in aquarelle crayon on paper, all done in 2009. Fellow artist Iurro, wearing a fedora:
Iurro, 2009, by Fred Hatt
A simplified study in lines and highlights of a face with very strongly defined features:
Tony, 2009, by Fred Hatt
A 20-minute profile sketch. The ear and eye are almost two separate characters here:
Colin, 2009, by Fred Hatt
The loveliness of youth:
Danielle, 2009, by Fred Hatt
And the beauty of maturity:
John W., 2009, by Fred Hatt
Remembering the past:
Elizabeth, 2009, by Fred Hatt
Imagining the future:
Donna, 2009, by Fred Hatt
The structure of this face was so strong that the drawing came right together, and I had time to study the complexities of color:
Michael W., 2009, by Fred Hatt
All of these are 70 cm x 50 cm (19.7? x 27.5?), except Danielle, which is 35 cm x 50 cm. All are Caran d’Ache aquarelle crayon on Fabriano Elle Erre paper. Other large-scale portraits of mine can be seen here and here and here.
I’ve recently discovered John Michael Greer’s blog, The Archdruid Report, and while I don’t generally do this kind of post, I simply have to share with my readers my appreciation of his well-written and clearly reasoned economic thought. He sees the economy as an ecosystem, and shows that ecology and economics cannot be separated. I think his way of thinking makes a lot of sense out of both recent events and long-term historical trends. All the articles are fascinating, but I suggest starting with this one. Greer has been known as a writer on esoteric things like Hermeticism, but the rationality of his thinking on ecological economics makes all the mainstream economic theories look like mystical gobbledygook by comparison.
The city is a forest of signs, words and pictures vying for attention. Most of them are highly transient, quickly posted over, vandalized or damaged. They’re usually more interesting in their ruined state.
The cluster of pasted bills above is an example of a recent trend in advertising of using images that are eye-catching without any clear relationship to the product being sold. Maybe the one above is about sweat socks, as those are the boring element juxtaposed with the iridescent butterflies and the child grotesque, but I really don’t know for sure. I do think the weathering and paint stains absolutely enhance the collage.
There is something about the ruined signs that suggests that no voice can prevail and no rule can overcome the power of entropy:
Authority, 2002, photo by Fred Hatt
A bulletin board that has been cleaned retains fragments of all the messages it has borne:
Stripped Bulletins, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt
Some signs have been up for so long those responsible for them have long ago stopped noticing that they have deteriorated to the point of illegibility:
Saint Anthony's Market, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt
This one was on a Polish candy store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Isn’t that candy irresistible?:
Wedel, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt
Perhaps you’d prefer a flavored Italian ice?:
Water Ices, 2008, photo by Fred Hatt
A sticker on a glass door is subject to the effects of the sun:
Cards Accepted, 2006, photo by Fred Hatt
Rust has an almost camouflaging effect on this sign:
No Parking Driveway, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt
Layers of peeling paint blunt the danger, or at least the sign:
Danger Illegible, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt
And this sign has fallen off the wall, leaving an intriguing calligraphy in dried glue:
Sign Glue, 2008, photo by Fred Hatt
If you love decay and erosion and ruined things, as I do, this mat will make you feel very welcome:
Welcome, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt
Here’s a fluorescent backlit poster, starting to go to seed in January:
Your Spirit Guide, January 2007, photo by Fred Hatt
And the same sign six months later, in a magnificent state of deterioration:
Your Spirit Guide, July 2007, photo by Fred Hatt
Some classic signs are worn down in a way that’s perfect. This sign matches the building, and would hardly be improved by being spruced up:
Joe's Tavern, 2006, photo by Fred Hatt
Destroyed words and letters can be an aesthetic demonstration that “Time is an artist”. Wrecked pictures of people have a more shocking effect:
Sean John, 2006, photo by Fred Hatt
They also tend to invite tampering in a way that verbal signs don’t:
Gum, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt
Reality Show, 2008, photo by Fred Hatt
A great smile makes you want to buy what’s for sale. This one makes me want to run out and gather up some void!:
Before going into the subject of this post, I will mention that this Saturday I will be exhibiting artwork and performing at “Summer Magic”, the fifth-anniversary fundraiser event for CRS, an important supporter of butoh dance, movement theater and healing arts in New York. Info here.
Cross Pollination 02, August 2009, by Fred Hatt
Choreographer Valerie Green‘s lovely Green Space Studio in Long Island City (Queens, New York) overlooks the Manhattan skyline and the 59th Street Bridge. Once a month Valerie hosts “Cross Pollination“, an open improvisational session in the studio where dancers, musicians and visual artists can practice their crafts while taking inspiration from each other. For me it’s an opportunity to draw some dance and do some movement myself. Many of the participants alternate between playing instruments and dancing or between dancing and drawing or painting. Here are some of my recent sketches from these events.
Cross Pollination 02, June 2009, by Fred Hatt
Cross Pollination 03, August 2009, by Fred Hatt
Cross Pollination 03, June 2009, by Fred Hatt
Cross Pollination 04, August 2009, by Fred Hatt
Often the movement of the dancers at Cross Pollination is way too fast for me to draw the figures by observation. I either construct the figures imaginatively from fragments observed or caught in memory, as above, or simply use the energy and fleeting impressions of figurative elements to construct abstract compositions like those below. In these I’ve turned the paper to different orientations while working, so if you look at them from different angles you may be able to pick out recognizable body parts.
Cross Pollination 01, June 2009, by Fred Hatt
Cross Pollination 01, August 2009, by Fred Hatt
I know at least one other artist that often attends these sessions has posted her Cross Pollination work on the web. Check out Irena Romendik‘s light-footed brushwork.
My drawings pictured in this post are either 18″ x 24″ (45.7 cm x 61 cm), ink on paper, or 50 cm x 70 cm (19.7″ x 27.5″), aquarelle crayon on paper.
In an essay I wrote in 1999 I said “Drawing records something photography does not – the movement of perception in time.” Every mark made in drawing represents a moment of seeing or of imagination. The energy of the artist’s strokes convey to a viewer something of the energy of the creative act. I want to preserve this quality of line, and for this reason have chosen to work primarily with media in which the line does not become blended or smudged.
Since the time I came to understand the time-based aspect of drawing, it has been an important basis of my creative process. I had first experienced drawing or painting as a record of the movement of consciousness in making abstract work, but I eventually discovered that my focus benefited greatly from working with models. In In order to practice working from models in motion, I organized “Movement Drawing” sessions, life drawing sessions in which the models were dancers and other kinds of trained movers.
Movement Drawing Flyer, 1997, by Fred Hatt
In order to make it possible to see and capture something of the movement, we asked the models to perform extremely slow movement, stop-and-go movement, and repeated movement (same gesture or movement phrase repeated for five minutes at a time). These sessions were challenging and exhausting practice. It was possible to fill an entire fat sketchbook in a single session. I was spending a lot on paper, and the piles of drawings in my apartment were growing quickly. One of my solutions was to draw many overlapping figures on the same page, using different colored crayons selected randomly so that the individual figures could be distinguished in the mesh. Here’s a typical example from that time:
Around the time I was most intensely involved in movement drawing, I visited my family in Oklahoma, where I grew up. Looking through the artwork I had done as a child, the earliest sketch I found was a crayon drawing made when I was three years old or so. My mother had labeled this drawing as I had described it to her, “José Greco Dancing in Purple Boots”. José Greco was a famous flamenco dancer and choreographer who made a great impression on me as a child. Here’s a clip of Greco’s dance, followed by my childhood interpretation:
José Greco Dancing in Purple Boots, 1961, by Fred Hatt
Finding this drawing showed me that I had known my mission from the start. Already at age three I was inspired by dance, trying to capture the energy of movement through scribbly crayon drawings. I just lost my way in life and it took me nearly forty years to find my way back to the path!
Starting around 2003 I began using the technique of overlapping figures in different colors to make much larger, almost mural scale drawings, and developed a way of working in which I allowed a sort of chaotic buildup of figurative lines, followed by a phase of finding dynamic form in the mess. An earlier blog post describes the process and shows phases of development of one piece. A number of large drawings made in this way can be seen in this gallery on my portfolio site.
The remainder of images in this post are of several of these large drawings made in the past year. All are 48″ x 60″ (122 cm x 152 cm), aquarelle crayon (sometimes combined with oil pastel) on black paper. These are selected not necessarily as the best of my drawings of this type, but to show variations on the style. Each one is made working with a single model who takes multiple quick poses, mainly of their own choosing. Work with the model is completed in a single session, followed by further work on my own to develop and clarify the compositions.
The model for this one is a dancer of great intensity:
Tropic, 2009, by Fred Hatt
On this one I kept changing the orientation of the paper as I added new figures. It makes it a little difficult to read. I imagine it being displayed on a ceiling, or with a slowly rotating motor so different figures might dominate the composition at different times:
Edges, 2009, by Fred Hatt
In the next drawing, the overlapping figures become a kind of complex landscape, a mysterious cave:
Range, 2009, by Fred Hatt
On the drawing below, when I was finished working with the model I was afraid the mass of figures was a hopeless jumble, but bringing color into the in-between spaces caused the whole thing to crystalize beautifully:
Seer, 2009, by Fred Hatt
In these drawings, not only do the lines express the movement of my perceptions in time, but the multiple overlapping figures show the movement of the model over a period of time. Aspects of the bodily form, the quality of movement, the energy and feeling expression of the model become part of the resulting image.
The cubists were trying to move beyond the limitations of the pictorial or photographic view by showing their subject from multiple angles simultaneously, suggesting the third spatial dimension not by the traditional way of projection or perspective, but by fragmentation. In these drawings, I’m fragmenting the fourth dimension, time, to bring it onto the plane and into the frame.