Friday, July 15, 2005

The Vitruvian Stick-Man

The Vitruvian Stick-Man

In what way is the previous drawing worse than the one preceding it?

In what way, if any, it it better?

Children draw stick figures because they think in symbols.

Most adults draw much in the same way because, like children, they still think in symbols.

Artists draw differently because they see beyond the symbol. They see what is there.

...or do they?


appa said...

Dear omwo,

Wrong. A work of Art is both symbolic and and representative. But on the other hand, a symbol already is representative.

In our christian morality society, the Cross is a powerfull symbol. What does it represent?

What about "abstract" Art? A Rothko painting is a symbol. But is also an explosion of color. The sheer size of the paintings make it also a physical object. When you interact it the painting all these dimensions mix to make an impression in us.

In the middle ages all Art was symbolic.

A Shakespeare play is both words and images. Words are symbols in a graphical sense, but also represent a certain concept, they are also sounds -- all language is also music -- and it evokes an image.

So you see, things are not so simple as they seem. Or perhaps they are simple, and it is my unwieldy thinking that needs mucho trabajo.


me said...

Este homem é um chato!

Fala tão a sério!

Vá-lá, descontraia-se...

E diga-nos olá.

Nós mulheres, não gostamos de ser ignoradas

OMWO said...

Hi Appa...

I wasn't reaching the conclusion, just putting the can a question be wrong ? :)

What did you think the "...or do they?" meant?

Wait around, I'll be getting to the point soon enough :)

I'm not in a hurry...

MaDi said...

I think a work of art is a kind of work that in some way can wake up our senses, it's a sensation experience. So, it can be symbolic or not.
It can also mean nothing, it's not necessary that artists see what is there. Magritte said:
"My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question 'What does that mean'? It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable."

OMWO said...

Hi again, Appa, MaDi

I must clarify one thing. This will be a series of posts about drawing. Not about Art. By that I mean that in this series I am hardly concerned with aesthetics, or aesthetic appreciation. This is about the process of learning to draw, and learning to represent what you see around you. How does one do it? In what ways can one do it? What happens inside you to allow for it? In these posts, I am not concerned with Art at all. Nor with the viewer. Just with he who does it, when he does it.

For the length of a few posts at least, The critic is a tourist, the conoisseur is a voyeur and a pervert. I am talking only from the point of view of he who feels the scratch of the pencil against the paper while trying to represent the world around him. It is a very specific subject, very particular, but it is the subject I want to address right now...

OMWO said...

Appa, for instance, the way in which I use the word "symbol" has nothing to do with the wider and more abstract sense you seem to be using. The cross has nothing to do with it.

I am talking about the symbolism you cannot avoid even when doing the most representational drawing there is - that is, while trying to do simple figure drawing from a live model.

I mean that in drawing, a stick may represent the body, a circle the head. Or a cylinder and a sphere may do so. There are whole hierarchies of symbols in action while you try to draw a concrete subject like a human body, with few artistic pretensions.

To understand the head you substitute it for a sphere, that is the first symbol. To draw the sphere you substitute is for a circle, the second symbol. But even this is a tremendous symplification of what happens in your head. And it is only one of many ways of doing it. I'll try to speak of such things in the next few days.

perusio said...

Cara me,

Não me tinha apercebido que havia wenches por aqui.


appa said...

Dear omwo,

You cannot separate the aesthetic from the rest. You see when you do that, at least for me is no longer a work of Art. It is someone saying: "look at me, ain't I smart?"

I'll give an example from Cinema. Orson Welles is a director that I think to be very much overrated. He's an aesthete, in the sense that the shots in a lot of his films are there just because they are beautifull. But I notice them, I notice him saying "look ain't this beautifull?". It bores me. It ruins the rhythm. For me the film is ruined.

John Ford has equally, or perhaps IMHO, better shots than Welles, but he never does it to look beautifull. He does it with a purpose. All fits together, there's a sense of rhythm throughout the film that maintains.

So a work of Art is always perceived with your stomach. And the stomach deals with all.

I don't agree with your statement that the critic is a tourist, or perhaps I agree. Read this if you feel like it.

And your mixing quite different things, Yo credo. One thing is the geometrical symbol for a sphere or a circle. Another thing is a drawing that goes further. If I do not know how to draw, then I use the simplest notion I can to account for what I see. But if I have better drawing skills, I can go further and try to give a more "accurate" representation. But then, all revolves around this little word accurate. I find most 19th century painting boring because it's devoid of intention. They thought that by trying to be more "accurate" they were better then let's say Vermeer. But they're wrong. They made painting a bland thing.

Y por aqui me quedo.


OMWO said...

Hi Appa,

>You cannot separate the aesthetic from >the rest. You see when you do that, at >least for me is no longer a work of Art.

I have no objections to anything that you said. The problem is that we are not talking about the same things at all.
I am not talking about art, or aesthetics, neither joined at the hip nor separated by the joints. I am talking about drawing in a sense that precedes art. drawing BEFORE it becomes a tool for art.

Let's be more specific:

Problem A:

given an object X in front of you, lets say, a person, and assuming that all you want is to pass it on to the paper using a pen or a pencil, in the most accurate form you can, how do you go about it?

Yes, this is very restrictive. When you take on a problem, you start very simple. This blog has (mostly) simple portraits of people, done in a hurry, representational in a very classical, bland, sense. As you know this is not at all my kind of drawing. There is a reason why I chose to do this. I want to understand trivial, representational, classical drawings, in a non-trivial way.

Do you know how to draw? Do you want to learn? I want to. This is all there is. This is a special class where critics have no place because we are not doing Art here, nor aesthetics, and critics are consumers and observers. We are doers here, this is not art school, this is mechanics 101, this is shop, this is - you'll see - reverse neurology and applied psychology. This is the first class of skydiving, and Karate for white belts. This is an exepdition to the center of drawing. We are just packing up, you can join. Anybody qualifies if they've ever drawn a stick figure, but you must leave art at the door and bring your crayons instead if you want to have fun :)

Just wait for it :)

appa said...

Dear omwo,

I guess that you're looking for a kind of causa sui. I find it to be a sort of wild goose chase.

If you just do. You're verbal brain must be shut up. Doing and talking are different things. If you try to do both simultaneously you're bound to end up with both a bad drawing and an incorrect perception of the drawing experience.

You must abandon yourself to the experience. Review it after, not while you're doing it. If you do that you're severely impairing your sensual input. That's my take on it.

Anyway, listen to this. If you feel like it.

OMWO said...

Dear Appa

>If you just do.

Actually, I have been doing it for quite a while.

That is precisely why I am discussing it right now.

>You're verbal brain must be shut up.

I try to shut down my analytical mind while drawing in a certain way (that is something I'll be discussing in fact - how drawing can be much like Zen "sitting") but I find it useful to switch it on again between drawings and conceptualize. That is precisely what I am doing here.

Again, you say things that I have no objection to, in fact quite the contrary, and somehow you seem to believe we are at odds. I find this weird.

I don't quite get your objection. If you can comment (quite interestingly in fact) on the things you observe others doing (in music, cinema, art, etc), isn't it normal that I should feel like commenting on the things I not only observe but actually do, and have been doing for many years?

There are quite a few illustrations on this site, and I have sweated them out. Maybe they are not good, certainly not as good as I'd like. But I have worked and I have thought about it a lot. That, I think, should give me some right to say a few words about it without "severely impairing my sensual input".

I am starting these posts with common things, because I must establish a background. Not everyone knows the basic language. Most of my visitors, though they may enjoy drawing, do not know what a blind drawing is, or a gesture drawing. Do you? I must establish these things before I speak of what I really want to speak.

I will go at my own pace. I can't answer all your objections right now without spilling out the whole content of my posts (and I want to do that slowly and in a digestible way), so this is all I can say right now. I still think you are not reading what I am writing, but something else that happens to be already present on your head.

Maybe you are hungering for debate? When armies are ready for war for a long time they start creating adversaries out of thin air :)

I am having a bit of carpal tunnel aching right now, so typing is a pain, literally, therefore I'm not salivating for a duel of (typed) words :)

I'll save my energies to write the actual posts, maybe we'll understand each other better then, and avoid the useless bloodshed. :)

OMWO said...

PS: I have followed your link from above. You say:

"Reviewing should be a highly personal thing —almost a confession. It should draw on the accumulated experiences of the reviewer and from there articulate something that sheds light on the
nature of the work being reviewed."

"In this site I'm doing things differently. I write my own personal notes and invite all of you to do the same. Share your impressions with us. Be they the listening notes of a CD; the effect on you of a film or a DVD you watched; a concert that you attended; a painting/sculpture exhibit; a travel."

Well, then I am doing precisely as you sugest. I am sharing my notes on a travel I have been on for a long time.

If a critic has something to say, and you clearly have, why wouldn't a doer be allowed to speak?

There are things about drawing (and music too, though I am too ignorant to speak of that since I can only play *very badly* the guitar and the bass and can hardly read musical notation anymore) that can be gathered only by those who actually do it. These things must be spoken by they who bled for it.

You are hard fellow. Is there no way to please you, even when we follow your suggestions? :)

appa said...

Dear omwo,

There's no replacement for having attended a hard school. :)

Perhaps I mistunderstood your intentions. Equivoques are the most tiresome travel companions of any itinerary. The doer, as you say, can and should talk. But most of the time he/she has very little to say. Why? because he/she poured himself/herself on the work and what is left is very little.

OTOH, I don't believe to be efficient to talk about something that is not quite well understood. One should talk only of things that one has overcome. I'm afraid that your drawing techinique has much room for improvement. Why chatter now? Why not continue to work to improve, instead? Why this diversion? It's of course your call. You should know what's best for you.

I'm not picking on you. I do have a lot of energy and this discussion is providing some outlet for it. Don't fall always on a defensive stance. Perhaps I'm the only one around here that doesn't adhere to the usual laudatory terms of the comments. I don't care.


OMWO said...

Hi again, Appa.

> There's no replacement for having attended a hard school. :)

I have not attended Art School. That being said, I have a few decades of drawing experience and I have read much on the subject. I think I have enough university degrees to realize what one can learn by oneself and what one cannot. I am humble enough to ask artists and art students for opinions and for help. I have learned a lot that way, and they don't seem to think I am as bad as you do, or as inconsequent in my opinions. I'd like sugestions, though, beyond the "you should just shut up" kind. I may point out that for a while, during the whole over-enthusiasm with modern art, figure drawing was much neglected in Art School, and I know a few art graduates who draw far worse than I do. That being said, my point was never how well or how badly I draw, so...

Furthermore, I ask: Have you attended Art School? I thought not. Yet you seem believe your opinions count, so much so that you think you can judge right now if I have anything to say, before I have even said it.

Have you attended the conservatory? Can you play an instrument? Yet you have a whole site on your opinions on music. Have you attended film school? Yet you do the same.

>The doer, as you say, can and should
> talk. But most of the time he/she has very little to say. Why? because
> he/she poured himself/herself on the work and what is left is very little.

You seem to believe that for some reason the critic is allowed to speak, whatever his formal qualifications, while the doer is not, unless he is Michelangelo, I suppose. Well, I am not michelangelo, I am still a learner - guess what, all doers are. Do you identify the critic with the thinker, perhaps? I'd have you know that the doer can spend much time thinking about what he does. I am repelled by such a misleading identication. I listen to what critics say because some are quite observant, but frankly it is the critic who must prove himself. Until proven otherwise, a critic of an Art, who is not a doer at the same time, is just a tourist who likes to take notes. Sometimes, on a newspaper, one reads a journalists report on local customs and vistas of some foreign country. It all sounds fascinating until one reads the report of a foreign journalist about our own country. Then one has to chuckle a bit, for one realizes how lost he usually is..the other day I was told of some reporter who wrote about codfish in Portugal. He spelled it Bacalao. You can guess the rest. That doesn't mean he hasn't got anything to say. It means he should be more humble than to sugest the locals should just shut up because he alone has already determined who is the expert and who isn't.

> OTOH, I don't believe to be efficient to talk about something that is not
> quite well understood. One should talk only of things that one has overcome.
> I'm afraid that your drawing techinique has much room for improvement. Why
> chatter now? Why not continue to work to improve, instead? Why this
> diversion? It's of course your call. You should know what's best for you.

Again, the doer should shut up because he has not achieved the Zenith, he has not reached the end of his path. Yet the critic can speak? Why, because he has not even began?

My technique is not good enough. At least it's not nil. How good is your technique on the cello, or at the violin, or as a composer, or at anything related to music? Yet you speak freely on music, which I don't blame you for, and in fact, I repeat, I find it interesting enough...

> I'm not picking on you. I do have a lot of energy and this discussion is
> providing some outlet for it.

I am afraid you are.

> Don't fall always on a defensive stance.

Should I then provide a punching bag? I have not began to fight. I will not, by the way, I am at a peaceful moment. But you seem to like to take an attacking stance and then complain that others are defensive? Is that the critics prerrogative too? You should learn Bushido one of these days. One does not take out a sword if one does not want a fight.

> Perhaps I'm the only one around here that doesn't adhere to the usual
> laudatory terms of the comments. I don't care.

That was never the point. And you know it.

Let's do this, then. I will self-appoint myself a critic(tm) right now. I suppose that this is all one must do to become one, or did you need to attend critic school for that? Is that ok, then? Am I then allowed to speak, if I speak as a critic? Am I forgiven for actually knowing how to draw a bit? Or is a critic required to be totally ignorant of the art he consumes, so that he is clean enough of the misconceptions of the vile working man?


PS: Regards, Appa. No ill-feelings, I hope. One can shed blood in the arena and not hold a grudge. Personal friends should not get involved in internet flame-wars, but I am not one to take a slap sitting down. I repeat you should wait for the actual posts before you criticize what you think their contents will be. I can see you don't know what the hell I am talking about, and really it bothers me to even respond to what is just idle "expense of excess energy"...

appa said...

Dear omwo,

Quoting a very wise philosopher Charlie Brown: "Good grief".

I say hard school. As in

Hard \Hard\ (h[aum]rd), a. [Compar. Harder (-[~e]r); superl. Hardest.] [OE. hard, heard, AS. heard; akin to OS. & D. hard, G. hart, OHG. herti, harti, Icel. har[eth]r, Dan. haard, Sw. h[*a]rd, Goth. hardus, Gr. kraty`s strong, ka`rtos, kra`tos, strength, and also to E. -ard, as in coward, drunkard, -crat, -cracy in autocrat, democracy; cf. Skr. kratu strength, k[.r] to do, make. Cf. Hardy.]
1. Not easily penetrated, cut, or separated into parts; not yielding to pressure; firm; solid; compact; -- applied to material bodies, and opposed to soft; as, hard wood;
hard flesh; a hard apple.

Me entiendes?

How touchy. Do I sense some sort of complex here?

Like I've said. It's your life, you do as you please. I just gave my disqualified and unwanted opinion. I have better things to do than to tread over eggs.

I don't know why, but you seem to react with extreme violence to everything that I write. If you read my sites, you know that's my style of writing. I'm, using a Nietzschean term, a warrior of attack, when it comes to writing.

Yes I go against the pat in the back kind of boring talk pattern.

And I suppose you didn't read what I wrote in the above quoted PDF. I'm not a critic, I have no plans to become one. I'm a simple human that likes to write about the things that matter to him. That's all.

I'll be absent from here from now on.

Salutations distingués

OMWO said...

Dear Appa,

I react to your style of writing in the same exact style. If you can't stand the heat you should not go into the Kitchen, perhaps?

You believe you are a "Nietzschean warrior of attack", but let me tell you, I know my Bushido, and I know my Nietzsche, and you are not, if you behave like this...You do attack, but for the second time, in two different blogs, you attack and then act all offended when I answer in the exact martial style you chose. Then you retreat with a broken heart and an offended stance, like you don't understand where all of it came from?...Dear God, don't your other opponents answer you? Are they all wimps? Where is your dojo? I must have a word with your Sensee!...Let me give you a clue: Body Combat is not a real martial art :)

Come by whenever you want, for christ sakes, attack all you want, just don't expect me to say "yes, Sir. More Sir". I am not of that school.

Learn how to take it. Gentlemen at war never brag about how much they bark or dish out, they brag about the scars they received. The ability to take it is what defines a "Nietzschean warrior of attack".

Speaking of school, I don't think I misunderstood you so much.

>There's no replacement for having >attended a hard school. :)

Whether you meant formal school or the school of hard knocks, I could answer in the same exact way. Next time you presume too much, you could try to be more specific, but all I have said still applies, or even more so.

Regards - not kind, perhaps, but honest.

me said...

Caro APPA,
você é mesmo um chato. Arranje uma namorada. Not me. Não percebeu para que serve um blog? Não é para isto.

Eu não leio os seus comentários. Aprenda charme com o OMWO.

macha k said...

Cara Me,
Appa "não se importa" que não leias os seus comentários. Ele é meio autista.:) Sorry, Appa!

macha k said...

Opps... lembrei-me agora: eu estava meio a brincar, mas pode ser que o Appa não tenha sentido de humor e não aceite uma brincadeira. Retiro o que disse.:)

on said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.