Tag Archives: Colleen Barry

Drawing: The Line Between Real And Illusion

Maria Kreyn (b. 1985, Russia)Learning to draw trains us to see the world through our own eyes and not through the filters of the mind. Our minds delete, distort,and generalize through processing filters.

People who can’t draw have not learned to see what they are looking at. Drawing is a skill set that can be taught. It is not so much about what you do with your hands as it is what you see when you look at something.

In art school many drawing exercises quickly revealed to each of us how the mind lies. Our drawing materials were in one room and the model was in another. We were allowed only 5 minutes to look and remember as much as possible before returning to our easel and draw for ten minutes. After each quarter hour journey we learned quickly what our minds had shut out.

A major problem was that few teachers had the skills to teach drawing, especially the technical drawing needed in the design of textiles, industry, and science.

I see a technological parallel happening in the 21st century. So many tech “creations” are not “creations” at all but more akin to mental innovations. Many people see tech as the high priestess of design, but to those who actually create it is seen as derivative. Every reference of a CGI screen can be easily spotted to the trained eye.   I have said that art done in the digital world is a bit like compact fluorescent light bulbs: the color feels off and the energy is considered dirty. The emotions are stripped in the same way humor or sarcasm do not translate well in text messages.

 

Shane Wolf (b.1976, American)

There is an expression, “great artists steal.” Sadly it has been adapted and distorted from a quote by TS Eliot. People have heard so many versions of it, that is often taken at face value. I will get back to that later.

Junghoon Lee (South Korean)

The original quote, “the immature poet imitates and the mature poet plagiarizes”, has been parodied by artists, composers and writers such as Picasso, Stravinsky, and Faulkner.

Pablo Picasso changed the quote to, “Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal.”

Igor Stravinsky changed it to “A lessor artists borrows, great artists steal”.

Nobel Prize winning author, William Faulkner, added his version with “Immature artists copy, great artists steal”.

Stealing in each of these cases refers to not copying someone else’s work, but taking it in what you love about it and making it a part of your self. It does not mean copying.

Someone who copies is confusing mental ideas with creativity. It is coming from fear, not creativity.

Competitive people believe only a few good ideas exist and there is not enough to go around. Competition is the opposite of creativity.Creativity manifests itself uniquely to every individual. It is unlimited.

So how did the USA get to a point where basic drawing skills are no longer taught to everyone? In 2001 the No Child Left Behind Act was passed. For schools to receive federal monies or what is known as Title I Funding, schools would have to administer standard based assessments.

Elizabeth Zanzinger (b.1980, American)

Schools began to focus on test results through memorization. Although it technically included the arts, they were not tested for Title I funding. If the students did not pass rigorous tests, schools lost their funding and teachers lost their jobs. Teaching kids to think or to create was no longer financially worth it.

The No Child Left Behind Act was replaced with “The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December of 2015. Although modified, it did not eliminate the requirements for periodic standardized tests given to students. It has left generations of visually illiterate adults and the non development of the part of our brain that helps us creatively solve problems.

Drawing with computers does not train the eye in the same way we learn with paper and pencil. Digital manipulation does not replace the skill of learning to draw anymore that cut and pasting from what is online is writing a novel.

I am not suggesting that everyone receive the rigorous training as a professional artist at an Atelier. Learning to draw in this way takes 2 years (graphite, charcoal, pen and ink, washes), It includes technical drawing (perspective and human anatomy. I am suggesting we take the lead from the French and take away cell phones from students during school hours.

Steven Assael (b.1957, American) Shana Leveson (American)

 

When drawing was initially required to be taught in our schools we had to use Britain’s school system to know where to begin. Art Master Walter Smith was hired and brought to the USA as the Art Education Supervisor Of Massachusettes.Walter Smith wanted to teach children how to draw, not make drawings. He wanted to give them an understanding of technical drawing that could be brought into design of products, incorporate science, and an understanding of how to see.

Edward Schmidt (b.1946, American)
Edward Schmidt (b.1946, American)

Jamie Hudson in his paper, Industrial Drawing in America in the 19th Century describes Smiths plan as follows:

  • “Smith separated the public into three sections:Children,skilled artisans,and general public. Children would be taught drawing in schools as part of their general education, artisans would be taught in night schools, and the general public would be able to have lectures in museums if they wished.
  • Smith educated teachers who had previous knowledge of drawing. He did this so in turn they became knowledgeable enough to teach normal teachers how to incorporate art in the classroom.
  • Smith devised a plan for incorporating drawing skills in grade schools. For younger students, they would be taught, “free-hand outline drawing” and when they were old enough they would eventually learn “model drawing”. “Memory Drawing” and flash cards were also included in his method (used in all grades).”

 

Many studies show technology is effecting our attention span and memory. It is literally re-wiring our brains differently. According to a new cognitive research out of Germany, “the production of visual art improves effective interaction” between parts of the brain.” Drawing skills benefit our ability to contribute to dozens of skill-sets and contributes significantly to how efficient our brains age and work over all.

Colleen Barry (b.1981, American)

I post a figurative art stream on Twitter featuring contemporary artists. The gratitude I receive from artists and art lovers is my reward. So many people do not realize we are living in a renaissance of classically trained artists. If you would like to visit it please go to Twitter.com/Uridev.


Artists Work by order of appearance

  1. Camie Salaz (b.1977, American) drawing for the painting of “Orion”
  2. Maria Kreyn (b. 1985, Russia)
  3. Roberto Ferri (b.1978, Italy)
  4. Shane Wolf (b.1976, American)
  5. Junghoon Lee (South Korean)
  6. Elizabeth Zanzinger (b.1980, American)
  7. Left: Steven Assael (b.1957, American)
  8. Right: Shana Leveson (American)
  9. Edward Schmidt (b.1946, American)
  10. Colleen Barry (b.1981, American.)

The Nude in Art & The Evolution of Consciousness

The nude has experienced as many highs and lows in the art world as a manic depressive painter. Tim Marlow in The Nude In Art explains, “For at least 30,000 years, humans have represented the naked form in a variety of ways.”

To the Greeks and Romans, the male nude was a symbol of physical perfection the body was capable of achieving. The female nude was more focused on the deities that birthed the world.

Colleen Barry - The Nude in Art
New York artist, Colleen Barry (b.1981)

The British, although prudish by nature, enthusiastically collected nude paintings during the Victorian era.

Inspired by the French and Internationalism of the Orientalists, even Queen Victoria bought nudes for her husband Prince Albert.

War often changes everything in the arts. The world moved through not one but two world wars.

After WWII, figurative paintings became associated with Nazi Art or the propaganda art that used Socialist Realist Art. Western Germany became repulsed by figurative work. The Nude went back into the closet.

Studying art history, I’ve noted a correlation between the nude in art with what is known as Skirt Length Theory. When times are financially difficult, skirt lengths get longer and art on the walls gets more prudish. When we are in a positive state financially and emotionally, we tend to feel more comfortable revealing extra flesh in our clothing and in our art.

The Nude in Art - D Jeffrey Mims
North Carolina born artist #DJeffreyMims (b.1954)

 

The Nude in Art - Daniela Astone
Italian painter Daniela Astone (b.1980)

Sadly, I’ve noted a pattern in censorship of the female in nude when women begin to become more empowered. Francesco Goya’s Nude Maja (c.1800) offended audiences not so much because his mistress was naked, but that she is comfortable in her nakedness. She locks eyes with the viewer completely unashamed to be seen in her birthday suit. A hundred and twenty years later we see police shut down a gallery in Paris when Amedeo Modigliani painted a woman comfortable in her body and her sexuality.

Now, yet another 120 years later, the London underground (as well as Hamburg and Cologne), have deemed the nudes of famous Austrian painter Egon Schiele too daring for his own 100 year anniversary celebration next year.

People sometimes ask why artists would continue to paint nudes when they “offend” people? Do they? In my article, How Social Media Is Editing Our World View On How And What We See, I go into more detail on how computer algorithms and moderators impose their own cultural or religious belief on their decision to remove posts, breaking European censorship laws.

Artists paint and draw the human form because there nothing more challenging than to do so. It requires great skill in anatomy, foreshortening, understanding skin tone, light and shadow. Every emotion is held in the human body and no one has the same face or body two days in a row. You could paint the same model every day for the rest of your life and it would be a new person every time.

The Nude in Art - Zack Zdrale
American artist Zack Zdrale (b.1977)

I think what history has taught us about knee jerk reactions to nudes is this: naughty or nice is a projection of our own self image. If we vilify the human body, how will we (or our children) ever feel comfortable in our own skin?

When we take something natural and attach shame to it, something bad happens. It becomes a shadow part of us and acts out inappropriately. We get people secretly addicted to porn, who do not honor boundaries, pedophiles and men in the workplace that act like Harvey Weinstein.


Featured Image: American Painter Adrian Gottlieb (b.1975) “Pasithea”.

To follow my Twitter feed on contemporary figurative art you can find me at Twitter.com/Uridev