Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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10/25/2006: "Elise as Draughtsman?"

I went to my Tuesday night life drawing session at the Ruby Room and it was fun as usual, but my drawing was *really* off. I mean, I would post some of them if it wasnít so embarrassing!

They were worse than the drawings I did on the first session, when I hadnít drawn from life in years. I donít know, I guess I could blame it on the fact that I didnít have time to eat dinner before I went and my stomach was growling the whole timeÖor that the model chose a lot of poses where she sort of sunk down into the couch.

I noted that the drawings of the high school student sitting on the floor in front of me (who was probably all of 15 years old) her drawings were turning out a lot better than mine!


But, rather than become despondent, I remembered back to Sat. night when Aaron showed me a book called Matisse as Draughtsman, which showed a lot of his pen and ink figure drawings. Most of them had beautiful elements to them, but they also had parts where the hands were drawn like a stick figure's, or where anatomically the angle of the hip coming out from behind a pillow was physically impossible. Things like that. And I *adore* MatisseÖheís one of my all-time favorite artists, and he wasnít perfect either.

So, Iím holding onto that!

Replies: 9 Comments

on Wednesday, October 25th, Daniel North said

If I recall the story correctly, Matisse attended the same Wed. evening life drawing group his entire adult life.

on Wednesday, October 25th, Zezrie Napier said

"Drawing is . . . not an exercise of particular dexterity, but above all a means of expressing intimate feelings and moods." ~ Henri Matisse.

"Matisse makes a drawing, then he makes a copy of it. He recopies it five times, ten times, always clarifying the line. He's convinced that the last, the most stripped down, is the best, the purest, the definitive one; and in fact, most of the time, it was the first. In drawing, nothing is better than the first attempt. ~ Pablo Picasso.

on Wednesday, October 25th, Elise said

hey Daniel, that's funny if that's true...I guess I'm in good company!

And Zezrie, great quote!

There was a similar discussion in relation to editing the written word in the film The Naked Lunch which was based on Burroughs experiences in Tangiers while writing his book "The Naked Lunch"...

Hank: See, you can't rewrite, 'cause to rewrite is to deceive and lie, and you betray your own thoughts. To rethink the flow and the rhythm, the tumbling out of the words, is a betrayal, and it's a sin, Martin, it's a sin.

on Thursday, October 26th, Jackie said

E: I agree with Picasso. Life drawing is something done 'in the moment'. It loses it's spontaneity if you trace the same lines over and over again, trying to make them perfect. Some times we just have an 'off' day or night. That's part of being imperfect, and human. (I'm sure you won't) - so don't let it keep you from going to drawing class next week!

on Thursday, October 26th, Elise said

I think I agree with both of them, there's a time and place for spontanity and a time for control and practice.

Of course, I am going to life drawing next week and I hope it goes better, I don't think it could go any worse!

on Friday, October 27th, greg said

Oh ... I thought this was about you moonlighting at a pub, pulling Guinness ... :laugh:

I think the greatest benefit from life drawing is the "just doing it" aspect.

Whether the matisse or picasso quote is better (like you, I'd say 'it depends" ... plus always be suspicious of whenever Pablo is talking about his nemesis ;) ), just the experience alone is so good for eye/hand/mind. Nothing compares!

Way to go for getting out there and drawing from life!!! :)

on Saturday, October 28th, RR said

I bet your drawings were fine and the 15 year old was looking at them wishing she was as good. :)

on Sunday, October 29th, berry bowman connell said

Dang! Like I could tell ya how t'get better....
First off, get a cheap notebook from walmart.
go to the airport. Sit down.
Start drawing folks.
No way in heck are y'gonna "finish" any of'em.
Don't even try.
That ain't the lesson so much as
letting YOU be the artist.

Matisse? Heck! Look at ANY artist's beginning
and what you'll likely see
them trying to be other folks.

Be you. And the best way to do that is
do a lot of drawing as fast as possible.
Yeah. I know what it sounds like.
Don't listen to the voice that's sayin, "maybe"
go do it!
Hey, no airport?
Try the bus station.
Try a local restaraunt.
Heck, come to Indiana and I'll show ya a dozen places and we'll go draw together! small note.
Last week I watched Art School Confidential.
Now, I haven't gone back to yer archives, but, were there talks about how much it seemed like their schools when they went?
You, too?
'Course, I actually went to comercial art school, had a few
fine art classes
(should have paid attention to getting A's in the classes vs not near as high a grade in the others)

Wait a minute.....
Did everyone get an A?
Am I missing that one going by me twenty years ago?


on Sunday, October 29th, Elise said

Ah, Greg, the old Pablo vs. Henri rivalry...I wish I had an artistic nemisis! Any takers?


And hi RR! I really don't think the 15 year old was feeling envious. First of all, I was hiding my drawing pad for dear life and secondly, she looked pretty damn smug about her own work. I was exactly the same at that age...convinced I was a protege.

And hi Berry, long time no hear! Of course, I've been terrible at keeping this thing updated lately.

As for Art School Confidential, it was so funny because I think it was so typical of most art students' experiences.

As for getting As, I got As in most of my classes but like a C- in my thesis show! It was a huge blow. Anyway, screw grades for art professors anyway, as we learn from the film...they're just a bunch of pretentious wash-outs anyway!