Lesson 4: Applying Construction to Insects and Arachnids

10:26 PM, Friday March 18th 2022

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  1. Does the chair I'm sitting in matter? Strange question, but I have a swivel chair that can be wobbly since my arm isn't achored to my desk.

I haven't thought about it until recently and tried drawing in a stable piano seat.

  1. Also strange, but how "fast" should I be drawing. I know it should be fast enough to make the mark clean and confident,

but sometimes if I'm drawing something like ellipses or contour curves I find it difficult to connect their ends to other lines, like lining them up in a sausage form.

When I draw fast it's like I'm trying to draw fast enough that I can't "think" while drawing the line so I don't correct it mid-draw and make it wobbly

When I ghost ellipses and plan my mark, should I still be "thinking" as the line is being drawn, like applying corrections as I draw? I don't mean correcting based on what I am seeing, but correcting based on my "plan" from ghosting before?

Thank you

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12:44 AM, Tuesday March 22nd 2022

To answer your questions,

Does the chair I'm sitting in matter? Strange question, but I have a swivel chair that can be wobbly since my arm isn't achored to my desk.

The height of the chair in relation to the desk certainly matters, though the stability of the chair is probably more of a grey area. If the chair is wobbling like crazy beneath you, I can imagine that being a problem - but if you're able to find momentary stability when you need it, then perhaps not. Hard to say, but it you think it's a problem, and it's one you can resolve, then you probably should.

That said, you mention that it's wobbly "since my arm isn't anchored to my desk". I'm not sure why the seat would be relevant here, or why it would stop you from resting your hand gently on the page as you draw, in the manner described here.

Also strange, but how "fast" should I be drawing.

I specifically avoid telling people to draw "fast" in the lesson material. Rather, I use the word "confident", because it's something of a moving target that still captures the main focus - to avoid steering the mark with our eyes, to shut our brain off as the pen touches the page. When we're starting out, our brain wants so badly to steer that pen as it draws that we have to draw pretty fast to shut it off - but with practice and experience, that requirement falls away, and we're better able to maintain confidence even at slower paces. This means that we can play with slowing down our pace, gradually, paying attention to whether or not we're falling back into a wobbly stroke. Once we do, we can speed up again, and maintain that pace until we try slowing down again.

At no point should your conscious brain be interfering with the execution of a stroke. You should, however, be applying the ghosting method to every structural mark - ellipses included - so that conscious brain has an opportunity to play its role during the planning and preparation phases instead. Once the pen touches the page, however, all you can do is commit to what's happening.

Anyway, jumping into your organic forms with contour lines, you've done a good job of sticking to the characteristics of simple sausages, and your contour lines are generally pretty well drawn. Most of them fit snugly within the silhouette of the form, and I can see an awareness of how the degree shifts wider as we move farther away from the viewer along the length of the sausage. There are some places where your linework gets looser however. This could be the result of not rotating the page when you need it, not taking enough time, or not engaging your whole arm from the shoulder - but you've got plenty of successful ones suggesting that this something you have the skill to overcome, and you merely need to manage those resources (of time, focus, attention, etc) better.

There was one other thing that caught my eye on the second page - here you opted to place ellipses on the ends of your sausages, but you did so incorrectly. When we place ellipses on the ends of these, it's because that tip is actually pointing towards the viewer, allowing us to see all the way around a contour line, seeing the full ellipse instead of a partial curve. If we look at the contour curves themselves, each one on every sausage on both pages is telling us that both ends of each sausage are facing away from the viewer. And thus, there should not be any full ellipses visible. This suggests to me that you're putting these marks down but not necessarily thinking about what they're meant to represent, and what purpose those ellipses are meant to play as a tool at our disposal.

To correct this, I recommend looking at this diagram - here you've got a number of different ways in which the same sausage shape can be arranged with contour lines. Note how the contour lines are consistent - if the contour curves suggest that one end is facing the viewer, it is reinforced with an ellipse at that tip. If the contour lines suggest that the tip is facing away, we add no ellipse in order to avoid undermining that and contradicting ourselves.

Continuing onto your insect constructions, there's a lot here that suggests you did not necessarily take as much time with each of these individual constructions as you could have - both in the drawings themselves and the execution of every mark therein, but also in going through the material and following the demonstrations step by step. For example, if we look at your work on the wasp demo, there are some pretty significant deviations between your approach and the one demonstrated in the lesson. While it's entirely normal for a student to, as they try to put down the marks they see in the demonstration, make mistakes in the execution of those marks - but in such cases I can clearly see their intent, and where they messed up in trying to reach that intent.

Here, your intent was definitely not to follow the instructions that were provided. I won't presume what your intent actually was - that's for you to know, and I'm going to go forward with the assumption that this was an honest mistake - but unfortunately this impacted every other drawing. The demonstrations serve as an opportunity for the student to get used to the general methodology they're expected to use, with the wasp one specifically introducing and demonstrating the extremely useful sausage method. As you did not follow them as instructed, your drawings too are largely arbitrary in their approach.

I think I can see elements of the branch method from Lesson 3 in how you're approaching the leg constructions, but even that is not being applied in the manner it was introduced (you're missing the part where each segment would be extended fully halfway to the next ellipse, allowing for a healthy overlap between them).

Given that these constructions were not done following the instructions, I am unfortunately going to have to ask you to do this lesson over, and to submit it as a new submission, which will cost you an additional 2 credits. While I'm sure that's not a pleasant thing to hear, this is a fairly clear cut case. It's imperative that you follow the instructions to the letter, as closely as you can, and that you take your time in going through the instructions so you're able to do so.

Also, I'd like to point your attention to the demonstrations available on the informal demos page, especially the shrimp and lobster demos. While none of these are as formalized as the main lesson demos, it's where any new material or approaches to conveying these concepts are stored as I develop them further, before they're able to be reintegrated into the lesson material itself. In other words, I keep developing the lesson material as I do critiques, and that stuff goes to the informal demos page until I'm able to overhaul the lesson as a whole. The shrimp and lobster demos in particular are very good examples of construction that focuses on introducing each new form as its own complete, solid, three dimensional element, and on establishing clear relationships in 3D space between them as each new element is added.

If you compare these to your attempts here, which are more composed of individual lines and partial shapes (you have a lot of gaps between elements that undermine the impression that they're actual solid, 3D forms). You also appear to be thinking about a lot all at once, rather than focusing in on an individual task, one at a time.

So - again, I'm going to ask that you do this lesson over. Please be sure to take ample time to read through the material, watch the videos, and to execute each and every construction - and every mark and form therein - to the best of your current ability.

6:33 PM, Tuesday March 22nd 2022
edited at 6:34 PM, Mar 22nd 2022

I do have to admit to rushing this lesson and letting other lesson material influence my work. I am going to try my best to take my time and stick to the material for this lesson. Thank you for your reply.

Another question in regards to confident line drawing:

At no point should your conscious brain be interfering with the execution of a stroke

Do you think ghosting lines with your eyes open then closing your eyes for actually drawing it sounds useful for an exercise?

Thank you

edited at 6:34 PM, Mar 22nd 2022
5:00 PM, Wednesday March 23rd 2022

Aaah... I think closing your eyes might be a bit extreme. Alternatively, you may want to try unfocusing your eyes as you execute the mark.

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