DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2013/07/26

Surface Tension

Curled Back, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Curled Back, 2013, by Fred Hatt

On the scale of galaxies and bodies, the universe embodies the elegant equations of Einstein and Newton, but at the subatomic scale, it’s all quantum weirdness, a foamy chaos of particles popping in and out of existence. Processes of evolution have generated the great panoply of Gaian life, but to the individual creature it’s just an ongoing struggle to survive and thrive. A human life viewed in retrospect by a biographer can have the structural inevitability of an epic novel, but that same life lived day-by-day may be experienced as a jumble of more-or-less random encounters and issues.

I aspire to reflect this dichotomy of scale in my drawings: on the big scale, elegant form, while on the small scale, chaos. From a distance, I would like my drawings to appear realistic, even classical, while a closer approach reveals an underlying turbulence of colors and markings. I avoid blending and smoothing, as I feel the energy of the marks captures something of the living energy of my subjects. Vivid hues blend in the eye to give the impression of subtly variegated tones.

Curled Back (detail), 2013, by Fred Hatt

Curled Back (detail), 2013, by Fred Hatt

This scribbly way of rendering values and volumes takes some time, but a relatively limited ten- or twenty-minute sketch shows it in its roughest and perhaps clearest form. When I am working this way, I generally try to do so right from the start of sketching, not to draw in a more formal way and then add a layer of chaos as a veneer. The drawing holds together because it’s craziness all the way down.

Sketch in Primaries, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Sketch in Primaries, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Rough Torso, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Rough Torso, 2013, by Fred Hatt

In the early stages of drawing, value (lightness/darkness) is the most important consideration in choosing a color to draw with, while hue is a secondary concern. As the drawing develops and the values from shadow to highlight becomes well established, the relative lightness of additional marks has a diminished effect, and color becomes the primary reason to choose one crayon over another.

Seated Side, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Seated Side, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Seated Back, 2013, by Fred Hatt

The following drawings are mostly longer, more developed pieces made using this technique of building a larger order out of small passages of chaos.

Curly Hair, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Curly Hair, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Human skin is never a flat surface color that can be matched the way a decorator might mix pigments to replicate a paint swatch. Skin is translucent, exhibiting properties of specular reflection and subsurface light scattering. Its coloration comes not only from melanin and other pigments inside the skin, but from the colors of blood and muscle and connective tissue showing through it. It has constant subtle variations. Figurative artists have all sorts of esoteric methods and theories for capturing skin tones. The one that works best for me is additive color mixing with scribbly strokes.

Poet, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Poet, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Green Blue Purple, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Green Blue Purple, 2013, by Fred Hatt

The great magic of figurative art is to capture the sense of aliveness of the subject. By expressing energy in the vigorous markings at the smaller scale of the drawing, I hope to convey the feeling that this person I am showing you is alive, is full of breath and blood and might potentially move or speak at any moment. I put as much of my own energy as possible into the work of drawing, and I want to preserve the record of that kinetic energy in the markings that compose the image.

Sculptor, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Sculptor, 2013, by Fred Hatt 

Body Artist, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Body Artist, 2013, by Fred Hatt

The model expresses her or his energy through the body, the pose and expression. The process of seeing and drawing is necessarily a process of abstraction, as this living being is translated into perceptions of angles and curves, contours and volumes. The magic of capturing aliveness depends on not letting the subtler aspects of the subject get lost in that translation. I try to achieve it by approaching everything as energy. Life is energy, the body is energy, perception is energy, mark-making is energy, a completed drawing is energy.  Energy is the aspect that unifies every stage of the process.

Ballerina, 2013, by Fred Hatt

If, while drawing, even one thing you see or do is dead, the drawing dies. All of it, every object, every mark, every thought, every moment, is alive. In this way, the drawing is full of life.

Rodinesque, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Rodinesque, 2013, by Fred Hatt

All of these drawings are roughly 19 1/2? x 25 1/2? (50 cm x 65 cm), aquarelle crayon on gray or black paper. “Curled Back” is done in a combination of aquarelle crayon and gouache.

2013/06/11

The Penetrating Glance

Clear Sight, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Clear Sight, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Artists who work from direct observation have a special way of looking at their subjects, a darting glance that picks up impressions the way a janitor’s litter spike snags trash. Nearly every action that builds up the drawing or painting follows from one of those quick looks. You look and make a mark, look again to refine the mark, look again to find the spatial relation of this to that, look for angles, look for curves, look for shades and colors, look to compare, look to correct. You’re constantly comparing your sketch to your model, translating perceptions into marks, trying to see better and capture better all the time, and racing the clock. In a classroom full of artists of mixed levels of experience, you can pick out the ones that know what they’re doing by watching how they look: how efficient and focused is their glance, and how frequently they look between their paper and the model.

My friend and fellow figurative artist Karen Miles made a little film about this (email subscribers will need to follow this link to view the film on YouTube):

These artists are drawing at Minerva Durham’s Spring Studio in New York, a drawing studio that attracts the most dedicated practitioners of drawing from the live model. If you were to observe a drawing session at Spring Studio, you’d probably be struck first by the quiet intensity of the whole group of artists. There is no music, no talking, just the single-minded focus on seeing and drawing.

Crouch, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Crouch, 2009, by Fred Hatt

In quick poses my glances are looking for overall forms, trying to see the figure as an arrangement of curves in space.

On One Knee, 2013, by Fred Hatt

On One Knee, 2013, by Fred Hatt

In the crayon drawing above, I made a first rough pass in magenta, then refined my contours in a bolder blue. There was probably a glance for nearly every separate stroke in the drawing. The sketch below is done with a brush and black watercolor. The individual strokes are easier to distinguish here. I see the curve of the shoulder and that becomes a brush stroke, then glance at the breast and make that curve, then at the belly and make that curve, and so on. Each marking has a certain rhythm and motion that reflect a quick tracing of that particular contour in my perceptual system.

Music, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Music, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Quite apart from the act of drawing, the normal visual process works by assembling impressions picked up by quick movements of the eyes called saccades. The eyes only see clearly over a narrow angle; the overall sharp photographic image we think we see is constructed in the brain as the fragmentary impressions of the saccades are knitted together. (Here’s a more detailed blog post about how that works.)

Complementary Poses, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Complementary Poses, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Constant practice improves the speed by which we receive such perceptions. Each moment of seeing is translated into a movement of the hand. The resulting marks reflect the quality of these movements, and thereby trace a record of the act of vision, a series of impressions made as the artist experiences them.

Passion, 2003, by Fred Hatt

Passion, 2003, by Fred Hatt

Drawing is not simply a copying of contours, but a trail left in permanent marks as the mind examines a scene over a particular period of time. Seen this way, it is clear that drawing captures something that photography does not. A camera, like an NSA surveillance program, indiscriminately vacuums up every detail of light information in its range. A drawing artist is more like a murder-mystery detective, following all the trails, picking up clues, details, impressions, until a coherent picture emerges from the process. Photography is a mechanical scan, while drawing is an active, responsive exploration of a scene. The distinction is between intelligence gathering and intelligent gathering.

Corner, 2008, by Fred Hatt

Corner, 2008, by Fred Hatt

The drawing medium affects how I see. When I am holding a pencil, as in the sketch above, I see the scene in terms of lines. When I use a fan brush, as below, I see broader strokes of light and shadow revealing the form in space.

Folding Forward, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Folding Forward, 2013, by Fred Hatt

I look for curves, and I look for angles. The form is constructed of flowing, rhythmic curves. The spatial arrangement of those curves is defined by angular connections.

Hands on Sacrum, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Hands on Sacrum, 2013, by Fred Hatt

In drawing with a linear medium such as crayon or pencil, light, shade and color must all be translated into line. I imagine that I am drawing, not on flat paper, but directly on the body itself, so that every line follows the three-dimensional shape of the body. Notice the white serpentine line running from armpit to hip in the torso study below. It represents the center of a highlighted area, but its meandering reveals the subtle irregularities imparted to the surface of the skin by underlying layers of bone and muscle, as a raindrop snaking down a windshield shows the hidden undulations in seemingly smooth glass.

Lines of Energy on a Torso, 2006, by Fred Hatt

Lines of Energy on a Torso, 2006, by Fred Hatt

Every glance is a fragment of perceiving. Every glance becomes a stroke in the drawing. It is a living process to record the phenomenon of life.

Imagining, 2008, by Fred Hatt

Imagining, 2008, by Fred Hatt

When there is more time to develop a drawing, additional layers of perceptions build up as the artist looks at the subject again and again. Light, shade, color, reflection, absorption, space, energy, temperature, texture, gravity, vibration, growth and decay – all the phenomena of matter and of life can be found by looking and looking some more.

Legs, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Legs, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Color and light in the real world are complex and slippery. Capturing such things is not a matter of simply duplicating a surface hue and value. Everything is relative, so everything must be seen relative to other things in the scene. As the work develops, the glances are comparative. What areas are redder than their neighboring areas? What areas are greener?

Back Light, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Back Light, 2013, by Fred Hatt

A body exists in space, and the image in the drawing becomes more real as it develops a sense of space. Further glances look at the parts of the body as they intersect with elements of the background.

In a Room, 2013, by Fred Hatt

In a Room, 2013, by Fred Hatt

I keep glancing, looking at light that reflects into shadows and light that penetrates the translucent skin and emerges tinged and diffused, looking at creases that swallow light and bulges that create specular highlights and gradients.

Side Arc, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Side Arc, 2013, by Fred Hatt

To draw is to see seeing, that is, to experience in action all the processes that go into visual perception.

Prone, Crossed Ankles, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Prone, Crossed Ankles, 2013, by Fred Hatt

2013/03/12

Rough and Refined Versions

 

Sh About to Rise, 2013, by Fred Hatt, details of sketch and final version side-by-side

Sh About to Rise, 2013, by Fred Hatt, details of sketch and final version side-by-side

The first post of Drawing Life was published on March 15, 2009, so the fourth blogaversary is upon us. I want to thank my readers, those that have been following since the start and those that have recently discovered the blog, those that subscribe by email and those that just check it out a few times a year. I just can’t help producing a constant flow of images – it’s my nature – but looking at the site stats and seeing how many people look in on what I post here, and especially receiving comments, motivates me to keep sharing with you through this forum. I invite you, dear reader, to tell me what you’d like to see more of here, questions you’ve wanted to ask me, or topics you think I should address. Please comment.

Some readers are mainly interested in figure drawing and art technique, some are interested in body art, others respond most strongly to the photographic visual essays, and still others to the art-historical surveys. For me, it’s all of a piece, all about my approach to visual art as a practice of self-development – a journey I have chosen as the central journey of my life, an effort to transform perception and a quest for mastery in an open-ended craft.

I long ago discovered that I needed a core practice, a strong trellis upon which to cultivate my twisty vines. For me, that core practice is figure drawing. It provides me with an ideal combination of discipline and inspiration, self-measurement and freedom to explore. Looking back over the last six months of posts on Drawing Life I noticed it’s been a long time since I just posted an update on my recent figure drawing work, and I’ve built up quite an archive of unposted work in the past year – enough to explore various themes in separate posts.

In my figure drawing practice I attend two regular weekly sessions, one of which (at Figureworks) consists of poses two minutes to twenty minutes in length, and the other of which (at Spring Studio) includes a single longer pose. Total drawing time on that pose, subtracting breaks, amounts to about two hours. It’s enough time to do a fairly refined drawing, though I approach it differently at different times, sometimes focusing on capturing a likeness, sometimes looking at subtleties of color or shading, sometimes studying the relationship of the face to the body or of the model to the surroundings, or any combination of these things. Sometimes I get off to a solid start and keep working on one sheet of paper for the whole duration of the pose. Other times I do a sketch and then start over again for one reason or another. This post is a collection of recent pairs of rough, sketchy versions and more finished versions of the same poses. It’s a way of looking into my process.  For each pair, my commentary will be inserted between the sketchy and polished versions.

Ch Diagonal, sketch version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Ch Diagonal, sketch version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Often I start out studying the whole figure and then decide to focus on a cropped view. This pose has a strong diagonal through-line, from right foot to head, with the model’s left limbs acting as right-angled buttresses.  After doing the sketch above, I decided I wanted to work larger to get more detail in the face, realizing that the diagonal tilt of the body worked in the composition without having to go all the way down to the right foot. In this case, the sketch was weak, but doing it helped to sharpen my perception for the more developed drawing.

Ch Diagonal, final version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Ch Diagonal, final version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Sage, sketch version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Here I felt the initial sketch was, in its rough form, a superb realization of my way of analyzing the figure, using curved lines to trace continuities of form, light, and body energy.  Further developing the drawing above would have obscured the white energy lines, destroying a drawing that is simple and intense. In this case I stopped, not because the sketch was weak or flawed, but because it was excellent in its undeveloped form. I went on to do the study below, applying most of my attention to the model’s face as an image of strong character and lived experience. I’m glad I stopped and saved the above version as a separate drawing, because it shows the robust, vibrant energy of the model’s abdomen, something that the second drawing omits.

Sage, final version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Sage, final version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

B with Mannequins, sketch version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

B with Mannequins, sketch version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

This is a wonderful model I’ve drawn many times before. For this pose, she set up an array of background elements and I decided to place her in this spatial context, with the blocks and boxes, hanging fabrics, and tattooed mannequin parts around her. In my initial sketch, above, I tried to get everything in the frame.  Later, I decided to develop the drawing with the model more centered, omitting details on the left. But there’s something almost Matissean about the stripped-down, off-center composition of the rough sketch.

B with Mannequins, final version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

B with Mannequins, final version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

M with Stockings, sketch version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

M with Stockings, sketch version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

This model, a fine artist in her own right, has the artist’s sense of what will make an interesting pose. She came up with this Schiele-esque pose, angular, fascinatingly awkward, casual and odd, with one stocking on and one hanging from the hands. This kind of pose is complicated and not easy to draw. I studied it in the above sketch for several layers of light and dark forms, angles and curves and cut facets, before attempting the realistic/impressionistic monochrome rendering, below.

M with Stockings, final version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

M with Stockings, final version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Cl Physique, sketch version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Cl Physique, sketch version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

This model is a bodybuilder with incredibly defined muscles, and drawing him is an anatomical study. My initial sketch was an attempt to understand the pose, but I was craving more detail in the face and torso, and decided to develop the drawing in a vertical frame rather than the horizontal one with which I’d begun. This was a session I had to leave early because of a work obligation, so the second drawing here is less refined than some of the others in this post.

Cl Physique, final version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Cl Physique, final version, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Sh About to Rise, sketch version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Sh About to Rise, sketch version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Here’s another one where the sketch was too good to ruin by developing it, and I felt the model’s face needed more space to show its character. These two drawings need to be seen together. The sketch above shows the character of the body, and the sketch below shows more detail in the character of the face. There’s a limit to the paper size that can be used n the context of the crowded group session. Sometimes I wish I could draw everything in life size.

Sh About to Rise, final version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Sh About to Rise, final version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Reclining K from Head End, sketch version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Reclining K from Head End, sketch version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

This pair is done in my studio, not in the Monday morning long-pose session at Spring Studio, as are all the other examples in this post. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to work with the same model almost weekly in my own studio. I expect there will eventually be a post here about this experience. In my own studio I can work with dramatic lighting that is not practical in the group setting of Spring Studio, and can work directly with the model to refine the poses. After doing the rough crayon and gouache sketch above, the pose was modified to paint the foreshortened view below.

Reclining K from Head End, final version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

Reclining K from Head End, final version, 2013, by Fred Hatt

All of the original drawings shown in this post are roughly 19″ x 25″ (48 c 64 cm). Some are drawn with Caran d’Ache aqruarelle crayons alone, and some are painted in gouache, combined with the crayons.

2013/01/25

Working Big – Part 2: Weaving with Bodies

Explorer, 2010, by Fred Hatt

Explorer, 2010, aquarelle crayon on black gessoed canvas, 72″ x 72″, by Fred Hatt

In last month’s post, “Working Big – Part 1”, I shared a selection of large figure drawings done at or near life-size. Over the last decade I’ve also been doing large-scale drawings with multiple overlapping figures.

In the Drawing Life post “Time and Line”, I wrote about how I arrived at this approach, and how it relates to my earliest creative impulses. I wrote:

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.

On my portfolio site I describe these drawings as “chaos compositions”, and briefly describe the process as follows:

Chaos Compositions emerge from a two-phase process: first generating a chaotic field through a response to movement, followed by working to reveal order hidden within this chaos.

I work on the floor, crawling over the large sheet and covering it with overlapping sketches of movement or quick poses taken by a model-collaborator. Once the drawing reaches a certain density, like a tangle of threads, I begin to work on carving a structure out of this undifferentiated energy field. I bring some of the layers of drawing forward by adding depth and weight to the forms, and push others into the background or into abstraction. I alternate between crawling on the drawing, where individual lines can be followed like paths, and standing back to get a sense of overall form and balance.

What is expressed in these works is not a concept or a personal feeling, but something unconceived, a spirit that emerges from the moment, from the interaction of artist and model and environment.

Several chaos compositions are included in the gallery “Time and Motion Drawings” on my portfolio site.

Still more posts about this process are linked in connection with some of the drawings below. As you can see, I’ve written fairly extensively about this way of working, and you can follow those links to read all about it if you wish. Here I’ll just share a selection of these pieces, with some unstructured thoughts about what these odd drawings mean to me.

End in Ice, 2012, by Fred Hatt

End in Ice, 2012, watercolor on paper, 38″ x 50″, by Fred Hatt

Each model embodies a certain particular essence, a range of qualities that express the way his or her self and structure exist in the world.

Follower, 2006, by Fred Hatt

Follower, 2006, aquarelle crayon on black gessoed canvas, 72″ x 72″, by Fred Hatt

The curves of the body in all its different attitudes become waves in a field of energy. My drawing surface becomes a sensitive membrane that receives these vibrations.

Colt, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Colt, 2011, aquarelle crayon on paper, 37″ x 48″, by Fred Hatt

Each piece is a portrait of one model. These are not different bodies sharing a setting, but different moments exposed on the same emulsion.

Ruminate, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Ruminate, 2011, aquarelle crayon on paper, 36″ x 60″, by Fred Hatt

To look at these drawings is not to look at a picture, but to fall into a vortex, a field of chaotic forces.

Biome, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Biome, 2011, aquarelle crayon on paper, 37″ x 48″, by Fred Hatt

By finding and following the lines that define the overlapping bodies and faces, we find our way through the maze of the drawing. For me this experience is metaphorical, for in the field of forces that is the world, it is our own bodies and identities that ground us and give us continuity.

Contain, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Contain, 2011, aquarelle crayon on paper, 36″ x 66″, by Fred Hatt

I want the viewer of these drawings to get some flavor of the experience I have when drawing them, an experience of surrendering to complexity but discovering clarity in the body and its life force.

Verso, 2008, by Fred Hatt

Verso, 2008, aquarelle crayon on paper, 48″ x 60″, by Fred Hatt

The chaotic nature of the world is inherent to its beauty. Geological and biological forms, clouds and galaxies, grow out of the infinite complexity of interacting energies and interdependent beings.

Hold, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Hold, 2011, aquarelle crayon on paper, 37″ x 48″, by Fred Hatt

To grasp the universe is to lose the self in the moment. It is an experience I seek again and again, with a crayon in my hand.

Twists, 2010, by Fred Hatt

Twists, 2010, aquarelle crayon on paper, 48″ x 50″, by Fred Hatt

(The image above is deconstructed into its component figures in the post “Reverse Engineering a Drawing”)

Awakening, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Awakening, 2011, aquarelle crayon on paper, 37″ x 48″, by Fred Hatt

I don’t tell my models how to move, but let them find their own poses. I am not concerned with realistic rendering, but with the qualities of the curves and the forms of energy they seem to call up from the potent void of negative space. I am attempting to see beyond the surface of things.

Hero, 2010, by Fred Hatt

Hero, 2010, aquarelle crayon on paper, 48″ x 60″, by Fred Hatt

(The drawing above is included in the post  “Finishing Touches”, where I explore the development of the negative spaces in several chaos compositions.)

Water Cycle, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Water Cycle, 2011, aquarelle crayon on paper, 37″ x 48″, by Fred Hatt

When I am drawing, I am close to the large paper and cannot see the overall pattern. I am down in it, exploring whatever passage I have found for the moment. Later, looking at the drawing from a distance, I see it abstractly, as veins of color in a crystal, or as objects in a whirlwind. Then the eye discovers a face or part of a body, and that is an opening into the image, which can be traveled like a path through the woods, or like a strand of thought through the din of the chattering mind.

Gaze Angle, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Gaze Angle, 2009, aquarelle crayon on paper, 48″ x 60″, by Fred Hatt

(The phases of development of the piece above are detailed in the post “Composing on the Fly”.)

End in Fire, 2012, by Fred Hatt

End in Fire, 2012, watercolor, oil pastel, and aquarelle crayon on paper, 38″ x 50″, by Fred Hatt

These works, even more than my other drawings, are products of close collaboration with great models who share their own creative expression in the work. The models who posed for the large drawings in this post are Kuan, Pedro, Stephanie, Jillian, Madelyn, Neil, Milvia, Jeremiah, Kristin, and Jessi.

2013/01/13

Portraits of La MaMa

Ellen Stewart, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Ellen Stewart, 2011, by Fred Hatt

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, one of the world’s great laboratories for cultivating new talent and exploring new directions in the performing arts, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2011.  Eric Marciano, an independent filmmaker for whom I have often worked as a videographer, produced some video pieces about the history and future of this great creative hothouse, and he asked me to draw portraits of a few of the key people interviewed or profiled in the clips, and to animate the process of creating the drawings.  Eric’s company, American Montage, recently posted the resulting clips to  its Vimeo page, so I can share them here with my blog readers.  The video is embedded at the bottom of this post (but those who receive the blog by email subscription will have to follow the link to see it on the web).

These drawings could not be done from life, as I always prefer in portrait drawing, but had to be done from photographs, or, in most cases, freeze-frames from video interviews.  They also had to be made to fit the wide 16 by 9 aspect ratio used for high-definition video, not the frame I would usually select for a portrait.  This means much of the frame would be background, so I’d need to develop background designs for each face.  I set up an easel with a camera on a tripod behind it, and as I worked on the drawings I stopped frequently to snap photographs of the work in progress.  The photographs were used to make animations of the drawings as they come into being, layer by layer.

In “Faces of Figureworks“, the exhibition featuring self-portraits by fifty artists currently on view (through March 3, 2013) at Brooklyn’s Figureworks Gallery, I’m showing a new self-portrait drawing alongside a similar, but slower, animation of that drawing’s evolvement, displayed on a digital photo frame.

I remember being fascinated as a kid by Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1956 film Le mystère Picasso, in which the famous artist painted on back-lit glass panels so the development and alteration of the works is recorded as it happens in time.  It made me aware of drawing as a time-based artform.  While we usually see drawings or paintings only in their finished form, their creation is a process of movement and change.  Many of the directions I have explored in my own work, including painting as a performance, and many posts here on Drawing Life, have been my attempts to explore my own process, and to share that process with others.

In this post I’ll share the drawings I made for the La MaMa video, with stills of each drawing in its finished form, and brief introductions of the subjects, and at the bottom of the post I’ll share the animated clip.

So many famous writers, performers, directors, designers, and composers have been associated with La MaMa that a small selection of portraits like this is necessarily a somewhat arbitrary sampling, but one name is essential.  La MaMa was the creation and lifelong project of Ellen Stewart, also known as Mama, whose portrait leads this post above.  Stewart, a fashion designer, started La MaMa as a performance café in 1961, a supportive place for the burgeoning creative experimentation of 1960’s New York and soon a magnet for artists from all over the world who were drawn to its cross-cultural playground of theatrical magic.

Andrei Serban, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Andrei Serban, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Stage director Andrei Serban is known for innovative approaches to classic texts with enveloping theatrical pageantry.

John Kelly, 2011, by Fred Hatt

John Kelly, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Artist, singer and dancer John Kelly transforms his persona to explore the worlds and psyches of Egon Schiele, Joni Mitchell, and Caravaggio, among others.

Peter Brook, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Peter Brook, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Since the 1950’s, director Peter Brook has been making spectacular, visceral theater and film with an international cast of collaborators.

Elizabeth Swados, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Elizabeth Swados, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Composer, writer, and director Elizabeth Swados makes exciting music and theater, crossing every boundary of style and genre.

Chris Tanner, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Christopher Tanner, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Visual artist and performer Christopher Tanner approaches everything he does with extravagant maximalism.

Mia Yoo, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Mia Yoo, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Mia Yoo, a former actress in La MaMa’s Great Jones Repertory Company, is Ellen Stewart’s successor, the Artistic Director of La MaMa ETC since Stewart’s death in early 2011.

And here’s the film, courtesy of Eric Marciano and American Montage, Inc.  There is a glitch in the first clip, where Peter Brook’s background disappears and reappears at the end, but this should give you a good look at how my drawing process works.  I believe the music is an excerpt from an Iggy Pop song.  If you don’t see the video here, follow this link.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress

Theme Tweaker by Unreal