DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt


Painting as Drawing

Persona, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I am by my essential nature more drawer than painter.  In taking on painting as a challenge, I have approached it as a form of drawing.  I seek spontaneity, linear expressiveness and energy, and a direct connection between perception and mark-making.  I’m not particularly concerned with sophisticated composition or illusionistic realism.  In drawing, perceptions are traced as lines, and drawn figures remain transparent, because they’re not all filled in.  This allows multiple images to coexist, as they often do in the mind, or as they do in the painting above.  Even when a drawing or painting isn’t explicitly layered in this way, I like it to have that kind of openness.

In quick sketches, I use the brush in much the same way as I use a pencil or pen, freely tracing the contours.  The brush is even more sensitive to the motions of the hand, and indicates shadowed areas more efficiently than the pencil can.

Claudia Three Poses, 2011, by Fred Hatt

To draw with the brush is to dance the contours of your subject.

Ridge, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I always start with this kind of rhythmic following of the movement of the figure.  The body is an expression of vitality, and even in stillness it expresses motion and projects energy with its curves and angles.

Robyn Poses, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In this post I share a selection of recent watercolor paintings of the figure, both raw and essential quick sketches and longer, more layered studies like the portrait below.  In painting, as in drawing, I try to let the strokes follow the three-dimensional form of the subject.

Claudia, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I’m using transparent watercolors, but I’ve also sometimes introduced white gouache (opaque watercolor).  In drawing, I usually preferred to use gray or black paper because I could draw highlights.  Watercolor needs a white paper base, but the white gouache lets me paint highlights.

Crouch, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The simplest figures convey emotion very directly.

Mendicant, 2011, by Fred Hatt

When I have more time, I give more attention to the subtleties of color and form and light, and the relation of the subject to its setting.

Knee Clasp, 2011, by Fred Hatt

That kind of development gives solidity to the image.  Maintaining transparency preserves the potential of movement.

Expand, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In the developed drawings, I’m working on a painting technique that is similar to my scribbly, optical color mixing style of drawing.  I use fan brushes and comb brushes to sketch with cross-contour lines.

Male, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Does developing the color and solidity actually obscure some of the emotional expressiveness?  Or are the quick sketches more expressive just because the shorter time allows the model to hold a more extreme position?

Anguish, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In a medium-length pose, like the two 20-minute drawings below, I combine a contour-based linear sketch with a relatively simple development of color and solidity.

Angle of Repose, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Chin on Palm, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Some artists don’t like quick poses because the limited time isn’t enough to go through the multi-stage process of creating an illusion of reality.  I like quick poses because models can explore everything the human body can do.  The range of poses that can be held for a minute or two is vastly larger than the range of poses that can be held for hours.  That fact was enough to motivate me to learn to draw fast!

Headstand, 2011, by Fred Hatt

There’s something inherently contradictory about painting or drawing.  I’m trying to be as loose and expressive as possible, and at the same time, as accurate as possible.

Angled Torso, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The lines need to carry the rhythm.  Color is more expressive the more approximate it is!  More layers make it more realistic, but sometimes fewer layers is more interesting.

Knees and Elbows, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Here’s one way of starting:  blobs (yellow), followed by hard contours (blue).

Stepping, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Everything is built out of gestures.

Omega, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In a more developed portrait, layers of color tendencies approximate perceptual colors.  Every stroke is made as though the brush is touching the body.

Traveler Returned, 2011, by Fred Hatt

When the brush touches the paper, it must be fully charged with the energy of life.

Black Hair, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The original watercolor paintings pictured in this post range in size from 11″ x 14″ (28 x 35.5 cm) to 18″ x 24″ (45.75 x 61 cm).

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