So to start the new year, I've borrowed a book from the library by Betty Edwards called "Drawing on the Artist Within". I've already worked through her other brilliant book "Drawing on the right side of the brain" and have dipped in and out of her book on colour theory. This book is less practical than her first book and delves much deeper into the theory of what happens to your brain and mind when you enter a creative mode or right brained mode. It's super interesting and she uses a lot of research from various philosophers, scientists and psychologists to try to explain how creative people think and how to awaken your own creative consciousness.
So to get back into the drawing mood, I've done a couple of simple exercises she recommends just to practise getting into that creative Right Brained mode. I've copied two drawings from her book - the first :"Study of a nude" by Rubens and the second a drawing by Matisse. The drawings in the book were upside down and I drew them upside down - essentially drawing them following the lines and shapes without knowing what I was drawing. The drawing above is my upside down Rubens.
Above left is the original Rubens right way up and above right is my upside down drawing turned right way up. It always kills me doing these exercises because I don't generally draw figures or portraits and I actually have real difficulties with proportion when drawing people, so it's actually subject matter I usually shy away from drawing.. but when I do these upside down drawings, the proportions seem mostly accurate and it looks like I've been studying figure drawing for years and years !! As Betty Edwards quotes from philosopher Michael Polanyi "We know more than we know we know." We all know proportions in drawing and we all know what bodies look like, it's just a matter of tapping into this knowledge and to be able to draw what you perceive, not what you think.
A similar upside down activity with the Matisse drawing (above).
Flower of the Week - Hibiscus
Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plant with several hundred species. The flowers are large and trumpet shaped with five or more petals and colours ranging from white to pink, red, orange, purple or yellow. Hibiscus are native to warm temperate, sub tropical or tropical regions of the world. They are the national flower of South Korea, Malaysia, Haiti and the state flower of Hawaii. Hibiscus are traditionally worn by Tahitian and Hawaiian girls in their ears - left ear if you're married or right ear for singles.
Hibiscus are one of my favourite Summer flowers. We have a plant in our backyard that produces huge crimson red coloured Hibiscus flowers every year around Summer. They are just so beautiful and dramatic - you can't help but notice them when they are in bloom. The Orange hibiscus painting on the left was one of my earlier paintings and really inspired my love of painting tropical flowers for the large petals where the colours can be blended in various effects. The Red Hibiscus painting in the middle is one of my favourite paintings for the way I was able to capture the light and translucency of the petals. The blue and purple highlights also worked very well to contrast with the orange and red. The small Hibiscus painting on the right was a bit of an experiment to see if I could capture the essence of the flower in a very quick painting style.
Below are three paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe of Hibiscus flowers painted around 1939. I like the one on the left the best. I actually think watercolour is a better medium for these flowers, as you can use the effects to create a lot of interest in the petals with this medium, whereas the oil or acrylic paintings don't really bring out the dramatic nature of the flower as well.
Sacha Grossel is a practising Visual Artist from Australia.