Visual Purple

After my life drawing class the other day I received comments, not for the first time, to the effect that my drawing was accurate, but rather severe and unflattering. I realised that this is because, unlike some of my fellow sketchers, I draw lines (which means, in the cases of faces, wrinkles, creases, folds, spots, and other unsightly aspects), rather than building up an image by shading.
This is not from any desire to draw in a particular style, but it’s a product of how I see things. Apart from the fact that I have perfect eyesight, I don’t necessarily see the same things, or see the same things in the same way, as other people. Compared to my wife, for example, I tend to focus on details and the way light reflects and bounces around between surfaces. She is much more aware of colour. She used to use various different coloured highlighter pens to mark pages in books and documents she was studying, knowing that she would remember specific sections later based on the colour she’d used and its position on the page.
Colour in general is not so important to me, and yet I still prefer colour to B/W photography because my photos are essentially a reflection of how I see the world around me (rather than an act of creativity), and I see the world in colour.


One thought on “Visual Purple

  1. simonlitton October 16, 2007 / 4:06 pm

    Comments from:

    Posted on Sep. 12th, 2007 02:00 pm (local)
    I can completely understand about the line vs. shading thing Simon. I shared your proclivity when I was in Art school. Guess I still do. It was something that most of my professors, since high school really, tried to break me of. Their outlook was that strong dark line instantly made a piece too much like a comic or an illustration. I never agreed with them frankly. It was, as you say, the way I saw things, and completely valid.
    I had one life drawing professor at the School of Visual Arts (whose name sadly slips my mind) who was a salty old frenchman. I took studio classes with him for a few years. At some point he made a single suggestion to me- “maybe stop using pencil.” (This was huge because he was all about simplicity. He was very strict on this point and wouldn’t allow anyone to work with anything BUT pencil. I felt honored.)
    I began working with ink and brush mostly after that and the effect was quite something. I could still work in the same way as I naturally would but by using ink and a brush (or a bamboo pen) the work began to become more expressive. It introduced some randomness into the proceedings and kept me from getting too tight.
    The professor was a man of few words but I regard his suggestion as pretty wise. I think if you see things in a very precise, logical way it does make sense to offset this by working with a media which is less precise. It forces you out of your comfort zone a bit and allows for some pleasant surprises.

    Posted on Sep. 12th, 2007 02:52 pm (local)
    Maybe I’ll try another medium too at some point, but I’m still just getting back into it after a break of about 20 years, so I’d like to spend a bit more time with the pencil before I splash out with the watercolours…


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