Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More Thoughts On Drawing

Structural dependency and structural integrity are what exist in nature.

Thus the only way to draw that imbues such natural order in drawing, is to follow structural order, which has its roots in structural dependency.
Even if the pencil does not follow that order, the brain has to go through such orderly thinking. That is the only way to ensure ACCURACY in one's drawing.

Thus the mastery of drawing involves a clear understanding of structure, that goes into 'structural clarity' (simplified definitions of structure that makes managing structural integrity feasible), and countless passing through of structural order, in thinking.

The final goal of the journey, is to arrive at a drawing that is NATURALLY SOUND.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Complexity starts with Simplicity

Over the last summer, one of my greatest realizations in drawing was that the overall flow of my pose (in memory drawings) was ignored, and that I have skipped it and moved on to place the many parts of the body in positions. Right then I had the feeling, "Ah, this is why. This is why my drawings looked weird back then, because I haven't even gotten the simplest thing, the biggest overall flow of the pose right in the first place." It was a hard feeling to describe, but an important one to record. Somehow it has something to do with the fact that, with most poses and actions that occur in nature, they have a very simple focus and/or intention - one look at it usually reveals some evident overall big flow and direction, and getting that simple thing is important/hard enough - that one should get that right, before he moves on to complexity. The overall idea of the realization is that, often, when something doesn't work out right, it's because the simpler and more fundamental ideas haven't been grasped yet. At that moment, it is necessary to take a step back, and work on that first.


Short-hands, such as that Disney and comic book artsists use, are not the truth itself.

The initiative behind them, however, are fundamental understandings of the truth.

Thus they can make very good pointers along the search for a good way to approach drawing in general.

Short-hands can be viewed as a double-edge blade. On one hand, they, being able to render certain things with much simpler strokes and structure, means they are the embodiment of certain essence of natural order. On the other hand, because they have often been simplified, looking at them for reference can involve the risk of memorizing flat impressions without further understanding of nature's true form.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


If it seems obvious to use references to help growth in drawing, then should we also use references to help writing stories? If so, what references, and in what ways the references are absorbed and interpreted, are some questions to think about.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Note to Self

Find your blind spot. Then tackle it. It if needs to be, tackle it in even less direct ways, such as looking at references and simplying copying them, or going back to study more of the perspective and anatomy that trips you when you try tackling the thing. Make an effort, close in on things.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Note to Self

Know what you are drawing. Simplify the information so you can organize it in a concrete fashion.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Making an Imaginary Drawing Believable through Breakdown of Its Meaning

Action and motion gives a pose meaning. Action and motion in a still pose, that is called gravity and weight.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Eye

The eye that appreciates drawings to their fullest extent, comes from past experiences of hunting for forms in nature in order to translate flat vision into meaningful forms on paper.

It also comes from correct knowledge of anatomy and structure of the human body.

With the developed eye, one can marvel at the succesful drawings and see mistakes of some drawings. It enables one to become inspired more easily by other artists' works.

The eye comes from more direct contact with what really exists in nature. In a sense, this is an example how 'foundation' built upon life drawings can help one further his imaginary drawings.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Blind Work

Say if there's someone you really want to be as good as.

A mode of thinking can be, Alright... every hour he spents drawing, I'll spend two hours.
Following that logic, say if you spent on drawing only 1/2 of the time that guy spents, and say he reaches a hypothetical mark in one year, you would at least have made the same progress in two years right?

That would be the case if devoting time is all that counts in improving your drawing skills.
What counts more than the amount of time spent, is the correct sequence of steps taken along the way. Say if you are building a pyramid with blocks, it would be obvious to build the foundation first. Thus the lack of foundation is the main reason why sometimes time devoted doesn't seem to correspond with the results.

Finding the best way to learn is alot more important than the time and effort spent.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More Thoughts On Drawing

Trying to draw someone else's character from memory can be an efficient mode of learning for many reasons.

First, the varied nature is simplified into shorthands and generalized forms. This is more evident with Disney characters and Japanese comics. So the form you have to internalize is simplified.

Second, you'll always know, if you've mastered the character's form, by the resemblance of your drawings to the original character. Verification of knowledge is made much easier under this mode of learning.

Third, this is the best part... you'll get to copy the character's different actions, poses, forshortened views, without having to hunt for them in nature.

If the character's a fairly well-constructed one, chances are that when you've mastered drawing the character from memory, you'll have learned something that can be applied to the construction of many other things.

Friday, April 4, 2008

More Thoughts on Drawing

It is one thing to copy someone else's drawing.
Another thing to understand the drawing you are copying.
And yet another thing to be able to draw what you've copied from memory.

The same thing applies to observational drawings.

It is one thing to draw what's in front of you.
Another thing to understand what's in front of you when you are drawing.
And another thing to be able to apply the knowledge gained from the observational drawing to your imaginary drawings.

The last task is the hardest, and therefore makes it a good standard in terms of judging one's drawing skills.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Time spent outside is important. Time spent alone is important too. Time spent alone can expand the world from within. There needs to be caution, though, when time spent alone narrows the world instead of expanding it.

A reminder for myself, since I've been wasting much of my time spent alone.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I have to say that deadline is an artist's best friend. With this thesis I'm working on, without the deadline, I don't think I would ever have the drive to revise the original ideas and eventually finish this entire film. Now I think about it, I have no idea how I'm gonna finish self-initated projects in the future, without strict deadlines that I would have to follow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

On Over-Finishing

Some paintings have the over-finished look. One places certain information on paper, be it shadows, form, or color. After one places the information with which he has a good understanding of, he can choose to stop. If he doesn't stop and then fills the blanks with other things, then he risks doing an overfinished piece.

How "finished" a piece is can roughly be defined by how much information it contains. Thus we can almost say that in order to produce more finished pieces, one needs to expand his knowledge of information. If he goes beyond his ability of grasping certain information, and "invents" information to add to the piece, then the result can be called "over-finished."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Thoughts on Drawing

Shading deals with how form shows under light. Lines deals with how the form is structurally composed. When doing both out of one's head, they can be easily thought as flat impressions instead spatial presences. It is in when one forces himself to depict angles involving overlapping forms with only lines, that he forces himself to be in direct contact with the form that sits in space. Hence the way in which one draws doesn't just define the looks, but also his thinking/feeling/learning process. All ways of drawings are good, but to me the best one currently is one which that when you do it, it's not your habitual hand/thinking that's doing the drawing, but rather yourself - you in the most direct way possible, doing the drawing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Reel 2008


I've finally cut my reel together. My favorite parts are the balls, the track, and the paintings at the end. The slow pacing near the end kinda fits well with the music. The track is called "Your Girl" by Blue States.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More thoughts on Drawing

I highly doubt the use of drawing anatomical parts out of memory as practice. And the reason behind my doubt is mainly because I've done so much of this kind of practice in the past. And I must say, the question of how fruitful it is aside, the practice itself is damn depressing. And it's hard to get good at something if you don't really like doing it. A person only has so much time in his life. To me copying old master drawings seem like a better use of time. Some people dislike the action of mere copying another drawing. I can sympathize with that. For me though, copying old masters' drawings that I like is a process that I can bare with, feels almost like a meditation sometimes. Again, better than all of that would still be to draw from your imagination what you want to draw, OR, draw from observation what you want to draw. To me these two seem equally meaningful, for they both come from the innate desire to portray something. The problem that comes up, then, is that you, wait I don't know about you, but for me, at least, I don't feel that desire most of the time. It only comes up rarely. What then, can one do, to improve himself as an artist, at down times like that? Up to this point I would say one thing would be to do copies of old masters' drawings. The other thing, that I often forget, is to actively seek inspiration. I'm bring this point up, because for the past 2 years, I've often found myself scribbling at my sketchbook, trying to come up with something "good". While occasionally something "good" did come up, now I look back at it, the time would have been better spent just solidifying my drawing skills by doing more concrete practices like drawing from observation, or actively seek inspiration, from movies/music/museums/videogames/traveling.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Figure Drawing

Out of all the drawings I did in Stephen's class last year, this one is my favorite.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

More Thoughts on Drawing

If you really care about the subject you are portraying, chances are that you can't help but naturally be more direct when drawing it. Thus we can venture to say an integral part of the drawing process is to first locate that which you want to portray, and proceed from that to create the desire that drives forth the creation of the drawing. This once again emphasizes that much of the drawing process needs to take place in the mind.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Excerpts from Walt Stanchfield’s Handouts

This is something I collected last year. After reading the pdf file of Walt Stanchfield's handouts on figure drawing, I found several parts that describe very similar ideas as those Stephen Gaffney teaches. So I copied and pasted these parts into one word file, and gave it to Stephen before I went on summer vacation. I remember that once Kat commented on how Stephen collects and brings things to class that proves him right, in a joking manner. I remembered that, because I do the same thing.

And here is a copy of the document, with newly added comments in brackets to show why I included each section.


(Reminds me of pairing)

I always advocate, and urge, and even plead for the termination of the practice of drawing one elbow without the other elbow to relate it to—or one knee without the other, or a hand or a foot or shoulder, etc. Observe people at play, at work or at rest--there is a constant relationship between the joints and appendages. They are either complementing, opposing or balancing each other. It is this relationship that creates the angles and tensions that are the tool of expressive gesture drawing.

(Below is similar to what Jim Mcmullin said, that you have to look at the subject as if he/she is your lover. Also reminds me of what Jim wrote, that, surprisingly, it is when you are most absorbed in the model, that most individuality would show up in your drawings- since its your truest perception and opinion unblocked by deliberate styles)

Here is another quote from “The Art Spirit” (I replaced the words portrait and painting with the word drawing.) “An interest in the subject; something you want to say definitely about the subject; this is the first condition of a drawing. The processes of drawing spring from this interest, this definite thing to be said. Completion does not depend on material representation. The work is done when that special thing has been said. The artist starts with an opinion (first impression), he organizes the materials (the elements I spoke of above), from which and with which he draws, to the expression of the opinion (first impression). The things have no longer their dead meaning but have become living parts of a coordination. To start with a deep impression, the best, the most interesting, the deepest you can have of the model; to preserve this vision throughout the work; to see nothing else; to admit of no digression from it.... every element in the picture will be constructive, constructive of an idea, expressive of an emotion. Every factor in the drawing will have beauty because in its place in the organization, it is doing its living part. It is only through a sense of the right relation of things that freedom can be obtained.”

(On Hirerarchy)

Earlier I mentioned body syntax. That's a phrase worth coining. The non-grammatical meaning of syntax is: "Connected system or order; orderly arrangement." What is a pose or gesture but an orderly arrangement of body parts to display a mood, demeanor, attitude, mannerism, expression, emotion—whatever. That phrase "orderly arrangement" (body syntax), is worth ruminating over. An orderly arrangement of body parts. I love it. Even the sentence places arrangement before parts.

(Where the "high-focus" lies, Why it's important to make meaningful marks, Why overly-voluptuous lines or exaggerated anatomical forms should be cautioned.)

An orchestra conductor, in a discussion on conducting Mahler's 1st symphony, said he had to be careful not to have too many climaxes in the performance. It is a relatively long symphony, 55 minutes in length, and is full of delightful passages that could be featured each in their own right. But there needs be control over such a temptation so that the overall theme of each of the three movements shall prevail. Drawing is like that. We are the conductors who are tempted also to feature the many interesting passages on the model. Some passages—a wrinkle, a belt buckle, a hair do, are sensuous to the point where we want to render them into little masterpieces of nonessential detail. Usually, a drawing has but one theme, and that theme must be featured or the drawing disintegrates into a montage of unrelated climaxes. There is a story to be told in drawing, whether it is one drawing of a model or many drawings in a scene of animation. True, in both cases there are secondary actions and costuming that must be dealt with, but the story (theme) is all important, while all else must be kept in a subordinate role. Subordinate doesn't mean unimportant. Everything on the drawing is there to help stress the story. Every line drawn should help direct the eye to the theme.

(Building the body through parts, being present while drawing)

Back to walking. When I am walking, I am (just) walking. I feel the cool breeze or the soothing warmth of the sun; I hear whatever sounds pass into my consciousness; I feel my heels strike the ground as they make contact; I enjoy the sway of my body as it negotiates for balance and forward motion; I watch the scenery go by and am aware of the three-dimensional quality unfolding around me. These factors are all happening simultaneously yet can be enjoyed separately. The same goes for every activity of your daily living. It is possible to go through life (or sometimes just big chunks of it) in a sort of dream state wherein you don't really experience the things you do. And so it is possible to make a drawing (many drawings) without being wholly conscious of what you are drawing. To apply that philosophy to drawing, you simply have to realize: when you are drawing a beak, you are drawing a beak; when you are drawing a feathered head, you are drawing a feathered head. And that goes for any of the hundreds, or will it be thousands, of separate parts you will be called upon to draw. This may seem contrary to my usual preaching about not drawing details in the gesture class. It is a matter of sequence—first the rough gesture drawing, then the detail. The line used to lay in the pose or action (acting) can be all one kind of line, as long as it is flowing, expressive, flexible, searching, and basic. The line to "finalize" the drawing must describe the shape, texture, and malleability of each part. So when drawing a bird's beak, you should aspire to make the drawing say "beak." When you get to the feathered part of the bird, you shift gears or press the, "When I am drawing feathers, I am drawing feathers" button.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Drawing Heads

Recently the problem of drawing heads from memory has surfaced again for me. When dealing with drawing problems I try to find a logical and structural solution to them. So I know for sure I've grasped something, so I know it's not just some phantom in my hand after hours of trying that's doing the drawing. Logically, it would make sense to start with a basic form, then keep building on that of that. That way things can be kept track of, using rules of perspective. This is in a way mathematical. Realistically speaking, it is almost humanly impossible to develop the entire form a head so you have mathematical assurance of the entire form's accuracy. That would mean you have to have total accuracy along each step of building the form. And that is why one needs to draw from life. The impressions of natural variations acquired such way fill in the blanks where geometrical structures fail, and with much higher accuracy and efficiency.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Time off

When I get time to take a break, my mind becomes more clear.
It's not unfair to say that I'm an ignorant person. By that I mean I lack much common sense. An example would be that I still don't really know how the delegates system works within the US election. So when I do get the time off, when my mind gets clear, I start to ask myself what I do not know, and how I would get to know them.

And I just found out that thesis isn't due until April 23rd. If that's true and indeed it's not due on April. 13, as stated on the guidelines, then I'll be left with a bit extra time. Time for me to drop into Gaffney's classes to draw, and ask myself what I do not know, and how I would get to know them.