Thursday, May 13, 2010

NYC: Beyond

While in NYC on business, I had a lot of down time, so I visited my favorite places in NYC: Society of Illustrators, the American Watercolor Society and Animazing Gallery. Society of Illustrators had a Student Scholarship Exhibit which was really inspiring and sometimes I think those student exhibits are even better than professional shows.
Plus, visiting NYC is always a pleasure. I lived in Brooklyn five years ago for five years, so coming to NYC always feels like coming home, though I don't have to deal with the craziness of it all for too long. And I have so many Russian/Belarussian friends that still live in Brooklyn, so it's so much fun to see all of them again.
I have been curious for the longest time about "Jazz & Sketch" at the Society of Illustrators. It's a figure drawing sessions that happen every Tuesday and Thursday. The event was exactly what I expected it to be: the best figure drawing I went to. Live music (nice and easy), some people had wine while they drew and really good models that knew what they were doing. The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly. The music helped you to just enjoy drawing and not to worry about the results (fresh concept). The worst enemy of figure drawing is trying too hard to make it work. That's when the drawing really falls apart. I know it too well. I remember just four and a half years ago when I was a freshman at MassArt, age 24, drawing from a model for the first time in my life. I was one of the worst students in the class and I knew it. I was desperately trying to figure out "the secret" to figure drawing. There had to be some perfect method of drawing, right? I was always so tense and determined to make the drawing work. I pressed on the conté crayon or charcoal so hard, but the results were pitiful.
Only after about three or even four years of figure drawing, taking classes with different instructors, reading books on figure drawing, listening, observing, making connections in my head, I realized that there is no "secret". You just need to draw a lot, try a million approaches, make a million mistakes. Only then something will start clicking in your head and you come up with the way you draw, make decisions, choose media that is going to be personal and unique.
Now and then I get some compliment on my figure drawings. It's very special and exciting to me to know that the way my drawing ability improved was only because I just kept trying and pushing myself even though a lot of times it feels that it'll never get better. That said, there is still soooo much to learn and improve.

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