Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The true formula for success - learning to see

By Carolyn Gabbe
Level Four student

I’m writing this blog post as an expanded conversation that started on Facebook with Dorothy Voss, Ricky Mujica and myself, a fourth-year student in Studio Incamminati’s Advanced Fine Art Program. The conversation touched on art instruction and, in particular, if Studio Incamminati has a formula or an approach.This led to the rumor that we start with an entire year of drawing.

Well, yes, we really do start with almost a full year of charcoal and graphite drawing because we are learning to see first. Within all the drawing that first year, full-time Studio Incamminati students undertake, there is a focus on gesture, proportion, value, and anatomy. You must learn to see it in order to describe it. Once you can see it, you can begin the effort to describe it with line, mass, value, edges.The wonderful intricacies of color come later.

Another foundation of the program is developing strong starts. If you begin without the gesture, with proportion problems, with anatomical impossibilities, you have little chance of success. So we undertake thousands of starts. Really – thousands. And that is another blog for another day.

Back to drawing, since we are visual people, here are some examples of my student work that I think illustrate the benefits of such a program and approach because it shows where I started and how my drawings evolved in less than two years.  I understand that the French Neoclassical Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres said it takes 30 years to learn to draw and I believe it! 

Charcoal figure drawing prior to starting the  Studio Incamminati  program.

Charcoal cast drawing, done part way through my first year of the full-time program.

Graphite figure drawing from late in my second year at Studio Incamminati.

Graphite cast drawing from my second year in the full-time program.

The second aspect of the Facebook conversation was whether or not we have a formula.  We do not. However, the Studio Incamminati curriculum focuses on teaching to see and think. It focuses on building skills, working large to small, getting the big things in correct relationship before moving to the small things, capturing the gesture, feeling the energy of a pose, seeing the planes and how they relate to the light with color and value, learning the anatomy of the human body, understanding value relationships and turning form with color and value, managing edges, composition and feeling. These skills enable us to move forward with our own artistic visions with strong foundations to build upon.

David Hockney, in a recent interview in Harper’s, said “ They don’t teach drawing in art schools anymore. It’s criminal. Teaching drawing teaches people to look.”  

Well, it certainly is taught at Studio Incamminati and to the great benefit of all of us who study here. As founder Nelson Shanks says, “We train to be enabled by competency not restricted by inability.”

So, off to draw!

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