DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2014/10/11

Reboot

Dance Shadow Drawing, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Dance Shadow Drawing, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

After five and a half years, 226 posts, and over 2800 images, with this post I bring Drawing Life to a close. Don’t worry – all the posts will remain online, and at the end of this post I’ll provide the link to a new site where I’ll share my work going forward. I’ve been going through a major transition in my life and it’s time for a kind of rethinking and spring cleaning of all my habits and practices.

The images accompanying this post are from an experimental drawing session I did last March with model/collaborator Kristin Hatleberg. I turned my whole studio into a cave of paper and covered the walls and floor with ink strokes tracing the outline or shadow of the body in motion. That was around the time my life transition was getting started, and this session was a sort of ritual for new creative possibilities.

Floor Figures, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Floor Figures, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

I rarely write about my own life here on Drawing Life. I avoid drama and so I imagine my life would be pretty boring to anyone not close to me. I devote much of my free time to drawing, photography, and other creative pursuits. While I show work and do events and performances fairly regularly, I’ve always maintained my art as an amateur practice. Of course the word “amateur” means lover, one who does something for the pure love of it. Since I work for a living, I don’t have to worry about creating work to please a market or to make it fit what some critics want to write about. I keep the work free, and I follow it wherever it leads me. To be honest, while I love a lot of living artists and their work, the international contemporary art scene as a whole, with its mega-wealthy collectors and ego-driven art stars, its combination of pretentious discourse and cheap gimmickry, bores me, and while I ignore this official Art World, it ignores me back. I’d rather treat my work as my own exploration of perception and practice. I do want to use it to communicate to a larger audience, but I’m actually more driven by the pleasure of sharing one on one, the special connection that develops between me and my models, the people I sketch portraits of and the people whose bodies I paint, the dancers and performers I collaborate with, and the fans of my work that visit my studio, sit with me on the floor and look through piles of drawings or photographs.

Tracing an Arc of Movement, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Tracing an Arc of Movement, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

For a very long time, I’ve lived a Bohemian lifestyle in New York, making my living through freelance photography, video production, film projection and other audiovisual work, with occasional commissions or paid gigs as an artist, teacher or performer. I’ve usually worked as little as I could get by with and kept as much time as I could for my creative work. The cost of living in the city has gone up and up in recent years, but I never had too much trouble finding paid work, though the older I got the more my lack of savings and lack of health insurance concerned me. So when I found the opportunity to take a job with good pay and excellent benefits, I went for it. I’m now a full-time film projectionist at the Museum of Modern Art, the first stable full time job I’ve had in over twenty years.  I’ve been a backup projectionist there since 2011, working full time hours since one of the full-timers retired last spring, and an official staff member since August.

Floor Figures, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Floor Figures, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

While I have been giving more of my time to paying work – even before my hiring at MoMA I’d been working an erratic but heavy schedule for the last couple of years – I have kept producing as much artwork as ever. While I haven’t been posting here on Drawing Life as frequently as I once did, this year I’ve done tons of drawing and photography, several live performances and film projects in collaboration with dancers, and have been developing a number of long-term projects that need time to come to fruition.

The job, with its demands, its regularity, and its security, changes everything. For a while I thought I could just re-arrange all my old activities into the new schedule, but it isn’t so simple. I’m determined that these changes will not diminish my creative life but will allow it to achieve greater depth. I could choose to keep posting here at Drawing Life as I have been. The list of yet-unwritten blog post ideas I maintain now has over 250 entries, some of which are sets of work that already exist and could simply be arranged for presentation on the blog. But I also want to devote some of my writing energy to a longer form, to a book or books that can develop some of my ideas in more depth. I think the internet is better suited to snippets and tweets and quick takes. Drawing Life’s picture essays have reached a small but appreciative audience, but they represent a sort of middle level of complexity, not enough for a deep read but maybe too much for the multitasking web surfer to take in.

Hand Stencils, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Hand Stencils, Temple of the Moving Body, 2014, by Fred Hatt

So I’m going to write a book. Wish me luck at achieving the kind of sustained discipline that will need. I’ve started a new blog, a Tumblr microblog called Inklings, where I’ll regularly share individual drawings, paintings and photographs, short films, and brief poems and paragraphs to inspire and please my fans. I’ve already added two posts there, a drawing and a four minute film about the wind. I expect to post there twice to thrice per week. What goes up there will also be shared on Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter, so follow the stream at any of those places.

Some of the online book services have blog-to-book functions, so I’m also thinking of making a Best of Drawing Life collection that you can download as an ebook or, better yet, order in hard copy. This would have maybe 50 or so of the most popular posts that have appeared here. Does that interest you? Would you prefer, say, photography and drawing posts in separate collections, or everything interspersed as has been the way on the blog? Are there any particular posts you’d like to nominate for the collection? I’ll continue to check the comments here!

2014/07/06

End-On: Extreme Foreshortening – Part 2

Filed under: Drawing,New work,Older work — Tags: , , , , , , — Fred Hatt @ 00:25
Rotation, 2006, by Fred Hatt

Rotation, 2006, by Fred Hatt

One of my all-time most popular Drawing Life posts is “End-On: Extreme Foreshortening“, from 2010, which featured my sketches of models in mostly reclining poses, seen at angles from near head or foot, a view which radically alters the perceived contours and juxtapositions of parts of the body. Many life drawing practitioners find extreme foreshortening very challenging, but if you can learn to analyze what’s in your visual field for this kind of drawing, everything else will be relatively easy. The original post has lots of observations that you may find helpful if you’re trying to learn how to see the figure in perspective. Here is a new set of drawings, all done directly from life without the use of photographs or any optical aids (with the exception of “Linear Man” later in this post, which was drawn while experimenting with a camera lucida).

Laced Fingers, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Laced Fingers, 2014, by Fred Hatt

The body in perspective can be looked at like a landscape, with rises and hollows receding from immediately in front of you to a distant horizon. To render this landscape, let your drawing hand roam over it, feeling the heart quicken as you scale each mound, trying not to lose your footing as you skitter downhill. At the same time, keep the eyes fixed like a surveyor’s transit, noting how each prominence aligns with each other prominence in the conical geometry of the seen scene.

Boulder, 2004, by Fred Hatt

Boulder, 2004, by Fred Hatt

The head-end view of the body is close to what we see if we look down at ourselves, and can express a kind of subjective sense of the body as the physical situation of the mind.

Absence, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Absence, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Organic forms are composed of three-dimensional curves, swellings and veerings in space. End-on views of parts of the body give a powerful experience of the swooping flow of such forms. I think of these forms as motions that happen in time. Organic shapes are not defined and constructed, they grow. To grow is to unfold. Unfolding is a motion in time, and every unfolding has its particular arc or waveform.

If we look at the leg, for instance, in a standard standing anatomical position, we see this time-based phenomenon translated into space, like a “timeline of history” chart. This growth that has taken place over time is manifest in the present moment as a particular shape in space. To experience it energetically, we need to translate space back into time. When we see the leg end-on, we can observe this spatial form in cascading cross-sections, experiencing the development of the form as it evolves from moment to moment, in flowing motion.

Hypotenuse, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Hypotenuse, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Hillocks and hollows, nipples and dimples, curves and straightaways, compose the Corpus Humanum.

Headward, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Headward, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Dive, and surface. Scale the Alps/Rockies/Andes/Himalayas. Plumb the Marianas Trench.

Resting Power 2, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Resting Power 2, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Resting Power 1, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Resting Power 1, 2013, by Fred Hatt

In the foreshortened world, the knee is a projection of the face, the thighs radiate from the shoulder, and the breast echoes the foot, as shapes related in space, and as parts of the body that contain pulsing hearts.

Angularities, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Angularities, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Slap the feet, gather the pelvis, stoke the gut, radiate the heart, open the throat, illuminate the dome.

Youth, 2006, by Fred Hatt

Youth, 2006, by Fred Hatt

Moving up the body from the feet is moving through a springy helix that curls around the ball and arch of the foot and swells out and eddies inward, the lines crossing and crossing again, a mighty and euphonious chord made of living matter.

Foot Root, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Foot Root, 2013, by Fred Hatt

The vessels of blood and the nerves of impulse are the highways and subways of the body. In observing the body, I try to simplify all that traffic, to intuit from it the arteries of spirit and the veins of mortality.

Meridians, 2008, by Fred Hatt

Meridians, 2008, by Fred Hatt

The centerline of the body is the trunk line. The limbs are byways, regional roads to the dirt farms and bordellos of the outer empire. Peripheral, yet vital. The way the limbs move in relation to the trunk defines the character of the living body.

Naga Sadhu, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Naga Sadhu, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Oxygen . Carbon . Hydrogen . Nitrogen . Calcium . Phosphorus . Potassium . Sulfur . Sodium . Chlorine . Magnesium .

Linear Man, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Linear Man, 2013, by Fred Hatt

The spark of life vivifies the carcass. The animal enjoys and suffers the experience of the world. By this experience it is honed and culled, and its wisdom is reproduced.

Check Mark, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Check Mark, 2014, by Fred Hatt

The form of the body is sacred geometry, but unlike abstract geometry, it is not best rendered with straightedge and compass. It is better apprehended through intuitive senses: rhythm and flow.

Rectangles, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Rectangles, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Moving down through the body from the head end, one passes through the dome of the cranium, the barrel of the chest, and the vectors of the jointed limbs.

Points of Contact, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Points of Contact, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Here’s a foreshortened pose that is not a reclining pose. This is a view of the standing figure from beneath, as observed, upside-down, in a mirror placed on the floor.

Cat's Eye View, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Cat’s Eye View, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Below, a magnetic vortex of foreshortened figures. The void attracts you. Go deep. There are three spatial dimensions, plus time, which is light.

Vanishing Point, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Vanishing Point, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Besides “End-On Part 1“, other posts that include my drawings of the foreshortened body include “A Torso Even More So“, “Reclinging, Not Boring“, and “The Body Contemplated“.

Most of the drawings pictured here are drawn with aquarelle crayons on paper, in the size range of 18″ x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). “Vanishing Point” and “Check Mark” are 38″ x 50″ (97 x 127 cm).  “Rotation” is 36″ x 36″ (91 x 91 cm), and “Linear Man” is 9″ x 12″ (23 x 30 cm). All are drawn directly from life without the use of photographs.

 

2014/04/29

In Memoriam

Prophet, 2002, by Fred Hatt

Prophet, 2002, by Fred Hatt

Yizroel Meyer (1944-2013)  was an intense and deeply eccentric man and an artist’s model who inspired me with his spiritual presence. As he posed, he prayed or chanted silently, his eyes fixed and his mouth moving ever so slightly. He embodied the human – mortal, frail, vulnerable – reaching out towards divinity. The quality of yearning was so powerful it could not help but manifest in drawings of the man.

Prophet study, 2002, by Fred Hatt

Prophet study, 2002, by Fred Hatt

I didn’t know him well. He was selective about who he would open up to. With me, he always spoke about great literature, refined music, serious cinema. In his last years he was involved in a deep reading of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, comparing English and German translations with the French original. Earlier obsessions included William Faulkner and Gertrude Stein.

Spring Studio, Minerva Durham’s beehive of seven-days-a-week open life drawing sessions in New York, where Yizroel modeled frequently over a period of twelve years, is hosting a memorial exhibition, with thirty-three artists’ depictions of this unique soul. The remainder of this post is Minerva Durham’s remembrance of Yizroel. Details on how to visit the exhibition are included at the end.

Yizroel quick pose, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Yizroel quick pose, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Minerva Durham writes:

“A secret compulsion to touch strangers, sometimes realized silently, sometimes caught out, came perhaps from his having been born in December, 1944, in Heidelberg as the Allies advanced into Germany. He soon became an orphan. He could not have easily thrived, as is the duty of every infant, without parents and with little food.

Yizroel quick pose, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Yizroel quick pose, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Young Hans Meyer, original photographer unknown, photo of old photo by Kyunghee Kim

Young Hans Meyer, original photographer unknown, photo of old photo by Kyunghee Kim

“He was perhaps brought up by a perhaps Christian grandfather who had perhaps killed a relative with an axe years earlier. He was certainly bullied by more robust boys during his youth. A photo of him as a child shows his delicacy and intelligence and sensitivity.
Yisroel quick poses, 2010, by Fred Hatt

Yizroel quick poses, 2010, by Fred Hatt

“As a young man he came to the United States  to work in a publishing house. Years of heavy drinking and smoking ended suddenly when a friend took him to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. He converted to Orthodox Judaism and lived in an Orthodox community in Brooklyn, wearing the curls, hats and costumes of the community that he had adopted. But he was homosexual and he couldn’t really be himself there, and the clothes alone could not make him fit in. He slowly distanced himself from that community, but he still prayed as a Jew until he died.

Nigun, 2003, by Fred Hatt

Nigun, 2003, by Fred Hatt

“When he found nakedness working as a figure model he was at last content. How poignant that this man, born Hans Meyer in war-torn Germany, having been born again as an Orthodox Jew, could only become whole by stripping down and peeling away to the state of his original existence, unclothed and vulnerable. And no wonder that artist Jean Marcellino always felt happy when she saw that the model for the long pose was Yizroel.
Standing torso, 2004, by Fred Hatt

Standing torso, 2004, by Fred Hatt

“His last illness was brief. A year of liver cancer ending in pancreatic cancer and three strokes, each increasing in strength. His friend of many years, George Bixby, saw that Yizroel was taken care of in and out of hospital. Yizroel Meyer was given a proper Jewish burial by the Brooklyn Orthodox community shortly after his death on December 17 last year.
Bicameral, 2006, by Fred Hatt

Bicameral, 2006, by Fred Hatt

“Yizroel’s poses, as drawn by thirty-three artists, can be seen at Spring Studio at 64 Spring Street through May 11, 2014. The fifty drawings now on display show the intensity of his spirituality. Artist Pat Tobin called him, “my Saint Francis.” You may see the drawings on display Monday through Friday from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm or by appointment with Minerva Durham, Director of Spring Studio, 917-375-6086.
Temps Perdu, 2010, by Fred Hatt

Temps Perdu, 2010, by Fred Hatt

“Artists included in the exhibition are: Akiva AKA Ken Sandberg, Anonymous, Robert Bassal, Lynn Cooper, Robert Dunn, Minerva Durham, Janet Fish, Robert Forte, Audrey Cohn-Ganz, Lyle Gertz, Dan Gheno, Dinah Glasier, George Grammar, Kevin Hall, Susan Haskins, Fred Hatt, Jerilyn Jurinek, Karen Kaapcke, Robin Kappy, Gary Katz, Kimchee Kim, Kyunghee Kim, Mark LaMantia, Berryl Mallory, Jean Marcellino, Rebecca Odin, Denise Ozker, Eleni Papageorge, Alan Schlussel, Pearl Shifer, Jonathan Soard, Diane Van Court, and Bruce Williams.”

2014/03/15

The Verb “To Draw”

 

Sky God, 2010, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Sky God, 2010, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Today, on Drawing Life’s fifth anniversary, I would like to invite you to an exhibition (details at the bottom of this post) and to ask the question, “Why is ‘drawing’ called that?

Serrate, 2008, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Serrate, 2008, by Fred Hatt (detail)

The word “draw” comes from Old English and Germanic terms describing various forms of pulling. Sometimes it’s draw, sometimes drag, draft, or the like.

Neon Creature, 2008, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt (detail)

Neon Creature, 2008, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt (detail)

(Note: The illustrations between paragraphs are details of my artworks that have appeared in the past five years of Drawing Life. Clicking on the images will link you to the original posts containing uncropped versions of the works. An earlier post with similar detail crops is here.)

Mitchell 2, July, 2011, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Mitchell 2, July, 2011, by Fred Hatt (detail)

We have phrases like draw back, draw forth, draw out, draw in, draw from, draw towards, draw up, draw down.

Street Grass, 2008, photo by Fred Hatt (detail)

Street Grass, 2008, photo by Fred Hatt (detail)

An account can be overdrawn, a character in a play underdrawn, breath indrawn.

Torso Vessels, 2009, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Torso Vessels, 2009, by Fred Hatt (detail)

You can draw a card, draw a gun, draw a conclusion, draw a crowd, draw a salary, draw a carriage, draw water, draw fire, draw a blank.

Waxing Moon, 2010, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Waxing Moon, 2010, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Supposedly the reason we use the word for sketching, or for making pictures, is because we draw our charcoal (or other marker) across a page. But of course the hand engaged in such action is pushing as much as it is pulling.

“The Active Mirror”,2003, by Fred Hatt, detail of acetate drawing

The Active Mirror, 2003, drawing performance by Fred Hatt, detail of acetate drawing 

Maybe if we called it “pushing” instead of “drawing”, we would think of this artform differently. But the sense of pulling seems right to me in myriad ways.

Earth, 1998, photo tryptich by Fred Hatt (detail)

Earth, 1998, photo triptych by Fred Hatt (detail)

To draw observationally is to draw near to something, to study it as if you could pull its essence into you through your eyes. The artist draws inspiration from the subject. By having a subject or object of study the artist remains grounded in a living relational reality, drawing the spirit of life into the picture.

Vascular Tree, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt (detail)

Vascular Tree, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt (detail) 

To draw imaginatively is to draw images, entities, energies up from the unconscious. It is to find embryonic notions and incubate them, and to coax them out of the nest. It is to exaggerate, to extrapolate, to speculate, to reach into the well and draw up the water of potentiality, to make the unreal visible.

Connection, Healing Hands series, 2010, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Connection, Healing Hands series, 2010, by Fred Hatt (detail) 

To draw abstractly is to draw upon primeval attractive forces and the structures and processes that derive from them. It is to know hues and shades as pure qualia, to know marks and shapes as matter and energy, to know structures as harmonies.

Towering, 2012, 38? x 50?, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Towering, 2012, 38″ x 50″, by Fred Hatt (detail) 

To share one’s artwork with another person is to attract someone to you not with your looks but with your vision. Even the work of an artist long dead, if it be strong, brings some of those that experience the work close to the artist’s bosom or cranium. The audience is pulled into the artist’s way of experiencing the world.

Twixt, 2011, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Twixt, 2011, by Fred Hatt (detail) 

Of course most of what I’m saying applies not just to drawing per se, but to any really great work of art, be it music or dance, storytelling or performing. Art is what draws us. It draws us out of ourselves, draws us to a new way of feeling. Art draws magical power out of humble, earthy materials. Art calls up the bright spirits and the dark spirits so that they dance for us. Art draws us in. It draws out the creative power that is hidden everywhere and in all. Inspiration means the drawing of breath. Our consumer culture is all about taking in. Drawing is taking in with acute high awareness.

Licking Flames, 2009, photo by Fred Hatt (detail)

Licking Flames, 2009, photo by Fred Hatt (detail) 

Most of our contemporary arbiters of culture think of drawing as a subsidiary thing – a training practice like a musician’s scales, a quick and dirty throwaway tool like brainstorming with Post-It Notes, a messy way of working out a composition or concept, like a plot outline. They see drawing as sketchy, undeveloped, unsophisticated.

Soft Angles 5, 2009, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Soft Angles 5, 2009, by Fred Hatt (detail) 

I contend that drawing is one of the very most basic forms of art, along with music and dance and performing and storytelling. I think it makes more sense to say painting, sculpture, and design are developments from drawing than vice versa, and so drawing must be considered more fundamental.

Adapt Festival 3, 2013, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Adapt Festival 3, 2013, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Those who have followed this blog over the years know that I work with photography, video, performance, body art. I think of drawing as the root of my practice, and the other forms as extensions or variations on drawing. The images accompanying this text are details of figure drawings, doodles, abstract paintings, photographs, and body art. For me they all have some quality in common – a quality that is the essence of drawing.

Window Display in Sunlight, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt (detail)

Window Display in Sunlight, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt (detail) 

Where do you draw the line to define drawing as distinct from, say, painting? Wet media vs. dry? That doesn’t quite nail it. Some pastellists call their work paintings, while ink wash or watercolor sketchers may call their work drawings. Quick vs. developed? That doesn’t work either. There’s a fashion in the art world these days for painstakingly obsessive works using ink or pencil, works that may take longer to make than most paintings, and usually these get called drawings. My friend Lorrie Fredette, sculptor and installation artist, recently made a series of works using sutures, black and white threads sewn into sheets of paper, and she called these drawings. Not all drawings are linear, not all are monochromatic, not all are simple. If there is an essence that defines the art of drawing, it might be directness, or spontaneity, the distillation of energy in image.

Double Exposure, 2007, 30? x 60?, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Double Exposure, 2007, 30″ x 60″, by Fred Hatt (detail) 

What do you call an artist whose primary focus is drawing? Draftsman? That sounds to me like someone who makes schematics and blueprints. Calligrapher? Graphic artist? Designer? Cartoonist? Sketcher? Delineator? Depicter? Tracer? Doodler? Those are all subsets of drawing. “Drawers” usually refers to either sliding storage compartments or underpants, so that doesn’t quite fit the bill either. I have seen some use the term “drawist”, but that seems to me an awkward construction. It think I will have to settle for calling myself a drawing artist.

Coral, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt (detail)

Coral, 2011, doodle by Fred Hatt (detail) 

If you are someone who draws, or who loves drawing, let me know in the comments section what drawing is all about for you.

Henry, 2010, by Fred Hatt (detail)

Henry, 2010, by Fred Hatt (detail)

If you’re in the D. C. area you can see one of my original drawings in the exhibition “Melange“, curated by Iurro, at Artspace 109, 109 N. Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia.Artists in the show include Rachel Blier, Peter Bottger, Joren Lindholm, Scott McGee, Paul McGehee, Jitka Nesnidalova, Tea Oropiridze, George Tkabladze, and Tati Valle-Riestra. The opening is Sunday March 16, 3 to 6 PM.  The show will be up March 18-May 10, 2014.

2014/01/26

Élan Vital

Filed under: Drawing,New work — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Fred Hatt @ 16:39
Windmill, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Windmill, 2013, by Fred Hatt

I’ve named this collection of my recent figure drawing work “Élan Vital” after philosopher Henri Bergson‘s concept of a dynamic impulse manifesting in evolution and creativity.

Resting Torque, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Resting Torque, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Figure drawing is the ongoing practice or discipline through which I strive to perceive the world and my fellow beings not as objects, but as patterns of flowing energy. Science, philosophy, and contemplative intuition can lead one to understand the world in this way, but only an active practice can train the senses to experience it directly.

Shepherd's Crook, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Shepherd’s Crook, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Usually we look at things or people, identify them, and then simply relate to them as objects of utility, threat, pleasure, or whatever role they play in the drama or game of which our ego is the protagonist. To look at things as an artist looks is a kind of meditation, a work of detachment. There can be a lovely pleasure in the activity, and there is surely a goal – the desire to capture something wonderful in a sketch drives our efforts. The intention is focused on the drawing, while the attention is focused on the model.

Sinuous Form, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Sinuous Form, 2013, by Fred Hatt

The eyes naturally move in “saccades“, hopping like a flea from one point of attention to the next. As I study the model’s body, I try to feel these jumps as flowing movements, to imagine that the eye follows the curves I see with a degree of fluid friction, like the oiled hands of a masseur gliding over the rises and hollows of the body. Of course my eyes don’t really move in such a continuous way, but the brush or pencil in my drawing hand does.

Memorious, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Memories, 2013, by Fred Hatt

The light touches and flows over the body of our model and then arrives through our eyes to tell us what it has learned. Light is ever swifter and more responsive than my fingers, but my practice aims at the impossible – to emulate light with my hands.

Clasp, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Clasp, 2013, by Fred Hatt

A fancy word for drawing is “to limn”. It means to delineate, to describe. The dictionary tells me this word is derived from the medieval word “lymnour”, an illuminator (illustrator) of manuscripts, from the latin “illuminare”, to give light. I had always assumed it was related to the word “liminal”, meaning “on the threshold”, which can refer to sensory thresholds or transitional states, but apparently that word derives from a different Latin root, “limen”. In any case, a contour is a perceived edge or threshold, between foreground and background or between light and dark, so to draw the figure is to illuminate by limning with lines the liminal zones of luminosity of the limbs. “Limb”, by the way, comes from the Latin “limbus”, meaning border or edge, and “line” comes from “linea”, a string or thread (as in linen). Maybe all of these words are related at a deeper or more ancient level of language.

Inward, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Inward, 2013, by Fred Hatt

We use a line to describe a shape, but because a line or mark is produced by movement, it also suggests dynamic energy.

Two Hands, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Two Hands, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Line can suggest the directional flow of light, the impulses of the nerves, the pulsing of blood, and the thrust of muscles.

Sidebridge, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Sidebridge, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Line can show connections or divisions, structure or directionality.

Light and Dark Lines, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Light and Dark Lines, 2013, by Fred Hatt

In drawing with regularity, it is a challenge to keep it fresh. As in any kind of practice, we’re essentially doing the same kind of thing over and over again. Art is like a sword with many edges. If we use the same edge all the time it will end up going dull.

Behind the Door, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Behind the Door, 2013, by Fred Hatt

I try to keep looking in different ways, focusing on different aspects of my subject, always trying to find something special about each pose.

Body and Face, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Body and Face, 2013, by Fred Hatt

I change media, sometimes using a brush, sometimes a pencil, sometimes crayons. Each tool has its own particular characteristics for me to internalize.

Boatman, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Boatman, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Sometimes I use the edge of the crayon and sometimes the point.

Painter, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Painter, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Sometimes I look at light and shadow, sometimes at contour, sometimes at mass and solidity, sometimes at motion or implied motion.

Dancer, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Dancer, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Sometimes I look at the way the parts of the body emanate from the center. Sometimes I look at how the body relates to the environment it occupies.

Irishman, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Irishman, 2014, by Fred Hatt

The subtle qualities, emotion, soul and the like, emerge from the energetic pursuit of more physical aspects of things.

Turn and Push, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Turn and Push, 2014, by Fred Hatt

The materialist view of science holds that life and consciousness are emergent properties of matter and energy, arising from the complexity of relationships among simpler things. But does matter give rise to mind, or could it be vice versa? It seems to me that even the most elementary interactions of particles entail an element of communication. Perhaps mind and matter are just two sides of a single coin.

Reflection, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Reflection, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Without matter to perceive, could mind exist? Without mind to experience it, could matter exist? Disembodied mind is a fog at best, it seems to me, mindless matter a “tree falling in the forest” paradox.

Statue Poses, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Statue Poses, 2013, by Fred Hatt

I would drive myself crazy speculating about the ultimate nature of reality, but a model is posing for me and the timer is running. Knowing that the end is coming makes me throw myself into the pursuit.

Thinking Man, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Thinking Man, 2013, by Fred Hatt

The discourse around contemporary art expects the artist to say something, to make a political statement or to question or unravel or reframe some cultural thing or other. I find I don’t much care about any of that. Here I am in a world of wonders and the clock is running.

Pose Sequence, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Pose Sequence, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Beauty is a subjective thing, in the eye of the beholder, they say. To capture your experience of beauty and share it in such a way that another might experience some echo of what you have felt is a way to propagate beauty in the world.

Stride, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Stride, 2013, by Fred Hatt

For any kind of artist, there is so much beauty to see, not just in faces and bodies, but in landscapes and animals, in imagination and feelings, in rhythms and tones, in epics and parables, in bliss and terror – in all the things an artist can illuminate. The timer is running.

Two Back Views, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Two Back Views, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Thanks to the models who posed for the pictures in this post: Amy, Andrea, Angela, Bethany, Chuck, Claudia, Emma, Eryn, Joe, Kristin, Kuan, Michael R., Michael W., Pedro, Taylor, Terry, Vadim, Wardell.

Drawings are in various combinations of aquarelle crayon, gouache and watercolor, pencil, ballpoint pen, and brush marker, ranging from 14″ x 17″ (36 x 43 cm) to 38″ x 50″ (97 x 127 cm).

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