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Strokes and faces

Joe's Creative Journal

1998, Year 1
No. 2, Jul 30

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Preface

This series is not intended to be a university course. I am not an art scholar, I am just a painter. I will tell you some secrets I stumbled about - as I later found out, I was not the first, of course, you can even find them in books. Nevertheless, it is hard to decipher them, so I will take the pain to spread the word. My motto will be, as always: Als ich kan (from a painting of Jan van Eyck, found as a citation in a modern mathamatical book, meaning: as good as I might).

Your appreciation will give me the power and strength to endure. It is for you and all the great masters that I do this work, and I hope you will enjoy it. So don't hesitate to send me your feedback in order to help me with that goal! This kind of journal is new to the net, so please tell me if the size is ok (images are great, but big!).

As I am writing in a foreign language, I am not sure to express myself correctly, but I hope you will be able to guess what I mean any time.

Also, I invite you to join in my effort. Send me your articles and comments to be published in this journal.

Yours truly,
joe

Strokes and faces


Last week I urged you to draw without thinking what you do. If you did your exercises, you will have experienced a lot of different scribbles. You probably were even able to express feelings with these scribbles which you cannot call by name. You will have found that your hand does what it likes. Your hand shows you something. Your hand is not you. Hell, what's this? Is it not you who is drawing? Well, pretty tough question! Let's not go into that here, I'll come back to it later.

I guess that if you stayed with it you turned to something more meaningful than just strokes. Maybe the strokes showed something specific although you did not intend to draw it. Maybe you wanted to draw something special and found that you couldn't. You did it, but felt bad with it. These experiences are very important and precious. If it comes to drawing, our will is not of much use. This may be hard to accept.

Ever heard of the left-right brain split? That's it. Our culture demands to be on the left side most of the time (except for driving a car, for example). Drawing happens on the right side. If you want to read further, there's a very good book on that. Just let me know, I'll give you the title. BTW, send me your exercises. I'll see what can be learnt from them.

First face
First face
Today I want to get you into something more elaborate, yet equally simple. Little children do it in Germany while singing: "Point, point, comma, stroke, ready is the moon face" (it rhymes in German: "Punkt, Punkt, Komma, Strich, fertig ist das Mondgesicht"). The points are the eyes, the comma the nose, the stroke is the mouth, a big circle completes the moon face.

Don't take this too easy! You can create beautiful pictures this way! Think of all the great cartoonists, they earn big money with simple strokes! Look at the face at left, done with a graphics program just a minute ago. I don't use a mouse, I got a graphics tablet with a pen, I did it to save time, but you can do it much better with a pencil. Remember: I'm not here to show you a how a master does it, I'm here to get you going! Look at this simple face: Isn't it full of energy, wit, emotion, lust? How did I do it? I don't know. I just did it.

Second face
Second face
Remember, too, from the first lesson: You do it just for fun on scrap paper. You do it to loosen your soul, to fish for energy, to explore yourself. Experiment with different material.You can do 20 faces a minute, if you want. You can feel strong emotions doing it. You could paint such a face with a broom on your yard. With your fingers in the sand. During work while phoning. Etc. Do it!

Look at the second face! Kind of Charlie Brown's cousin. Charlie: He really is a moon face! Charlie is proof to what can be done with so little means. You wonder how this can be achieved? It's a secret. Just let your soul do it for the moment. We'll get into that later. See, how far we have come in two weeks? Last week only strokes, this week we're on the edge of becoming a millionaire doubling Charlie Brown's success! Wow!

Third face
Third face
Try other pencils, too. See how this third face looks? It's the eyes and mouth, being enforced a little, going back and forth with the pencil, that gives this face some depth. If you got sick from all these faces, try some add ons: Give them a little hair! What about ears? And a neck? Eyebrows? Is it a man or a woman? How old? Put the items at odd places, both points on one side of the nose, etc.

Did you ever see sketches of Picasso? He tried to get at something! He did not hesitate to repeat them over and over. You can really see him working! There is a whole book trying to find out how a genius works analyzing the sketches he did while starting the famous painting Guerníca, formerly Museum of Modern Art, New York, now Madrid (I'll give you the title if you care). At one sketch he draws a horse like we draw a face: extremely primitive. Then more naturalistic. He could do that, too. We will soon.

Last week:
How to get started

Next week:
Proportions and portraits

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