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My First Time

September 21, 2010 11:40 pm
Hiedi Sitting
Laura

I was recently recalling to a friend how I first became interested in figure drawing and my first experience with drawing a nude model.

I was 17 and in my senior year of high school. I was taking a “Portfolio Development” class offered to high school students by a local university. It was very exciting at the time to be selected to participate in the course and I was never happier than when I was dropped off at the university on Saturday mornings to spend the entire day drawing.

We participated in various common drawing class exercises that we might not have had the chance to explore as in depth in our typical high school classes. We drew shoe’s, drapery, chairs, still life’s. Some weeks into the course we began drawing clothed models. I enjoyed all of it just because I loved drawing but also at the time I hadn’t found what it was that I had a passion for drawing. I just knew I loved to draw and that I wanted to go onto college for it and would figure out the rest when I got there.

After working with a clothed model for 2 weeks, the following week we came into class and took our seats in one of the 2 circles around model stands. The models came out as they did in the previous weeks, one male and one female each taking a model stand. Something was a little different this time, the models were dressed in robes.

When they got to their stands they simply dropped their robes. The room was ablaze in gasps, gulps and whispers. Mind you this was a room of about 30 high school seniors who had never seen a nude model before. We were not informed this would happen and needless to say we were all taken back quite a bit. Another boy from my school and I giggled to each other in awkward disbelief of the naked woman in front of us. One of the female students sitting in the circle around the male model actually fainted and made a loud crashing sound as she fell off her metal stool. She ended up being ok.

After a few minutes of commotion we all began to settle down and just draw. It didn’t take long for me to realize there was nothing sexual about what was happening. She wasn’t ‘naked’ at all she was ‘nude’. It also didn’t take me very long to realize how amazing it was to sketch the human form. It was an intensely complex challenge and I loved that about it. There was so much happening, much of it beneath the surface. The figure before me was a living breathing person, her figure and how she posed was a direct result of who she was. I was sitting sketching before one of the most beautiful and complex creations in all of existence, the human form. It was simply amazing.

I got it, I got it right away, and it was right then and has ever since been true love.

Working Large – Drawing as movement

September 9, 2010 12:46 pm

You can really put your whole body into a larger drawing. When I was younger I discovered I loved to swing my arm around when I drew. It helped me be more expressive in my work. Drawing at smaller sizes was confining, like being put in a box. As a result I never work smaller than 18″x24″ except on anatomy studies, and when working out technical problems. Even that size barely accommodates the motions I like to make when drawing.

Lately on by working on even larger drawings I have discovered the ability to put more of myself physically into working. I dance around while I am drawing. I lean, push and pull into and out of the marks I am making. I can slide across and around the paper. As the drawing builds I am able get a whole body rhythm going. I don’t have to put as much thought into it. It just flows out of me. It helps me express the energy I am feeling. Its totally a blast. Its incredibly expressive. Its something you can’t do working 9″x12″. There are hassles working this large, especially in pastels but I have found few greater feelings and for me it is well worth the rewards.

For me it’s drawing as movement=-]

Beat ME “like a wife”

September 6, 2010 10:06 pm

Not too long ago I was at a large outdoor birthday party. I was sitting around a table. A few men and their wives. I hadn’t payed close attention to the conversation. At some point it came to a joke. One man said “Be quiet woman or I’ll beat you…I’ll beat you…like a wife”. The table broke out into laughter. The men at the table laughed heartily. The women sat quietly in obvious frustration. “Oh its just a joke” he said.

I was absolutely infuriated. I wanted to say something. I was by far out numbered and frankly out muscled. These were the type of guys I felt would have had no problem beating me senseless and dropping me in a ditch. Probably the same way they would have a woman. Speaking out surely would have caused conflict. I was a guest of a friend and didn’t want to make a scene.

I am non-conflicting, non-violent. A fire grew inside me. I was soo pissed off. What could I do? Speak up among these angry violent men? I sure contemplated it. I sure didn’t laugh.

This is the fire I am faced against every day. Speak out against these types of men? Speak out against these types of comments? I hear them and other derogatory comments towards women far too often. Absolutely speak out. No more. I will not accept this any longer. Don’t say those kinds of things around me, don’t say those kinds of things at all.

We all need to speak out. We need to say these attitudes and types of statements are simply not unacceptable.

I am starting to speak out. My anger against these comments grows, against the acceptance of these attitudes grows. My lack of concern for myself in speaking out against such comments grows. I’ll speak out. I put myself at risk, gladly.

I’ll speak out. Go ahead, beat ME, beat ME “like a wife” so that she may be spared. I’ll gladly be the whipping post for the brunt of your anger. Just don’t touch her. Beat ME PLEASE!!!

Very Young Girls

September 6, 2010 8:30 pm

I recently watched the documentary “Very Young Girls” its about prostitution and trafficking of young women here in New York City. It was not an easy watch. I was in tears much of the time having to stop it several times.

It is disgusting what happens. 12 year old girls being pimped and turned to prostitution. Beaten bloody when they try to leave. It hits close to home as I have at times seen such young girls working the blocks around my art studio building. I know many of the neighborhoods in the film. I’m sure I commute the subways with parents of children this happens to every day.

As the film points out when we talk about the trafficking of young women we so often refer to the Philippines or Thailand, Africa, somewhere else. It is happening right here in America. It is an growing and overwhelming problem right here in our back yard.

Watch it. Get involved in some way in preventing the trafficking and prostitution of young girls. Send men who assault women to jail. Please, please please. Your child may be at risk. Don’t sit back and let someone else handle this. Get involved. Fight for tougher legislation against pimps and people who perpetuate this business. Speak out against the reasons there is a market for such things.

Its available instantly on Netflix.

Please support:
http://www.gems-girls.org/
http://www.facebook.com/girlsarenotforsale

Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and
Body Image (Live Girls)

September 4, 2010 2:56 pm

As some who know me are aware of I read a good amount of books pertaining specifically to woman’s issues and many in that category fall under body image. My work is constantly exploring this issue and trying to challenge and expand our definitions of feminine beauty.

One of my favorite body image books is “Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image (Live Girls)”

Its a series of essays written by women sharing their experiences with body image. The book is absolutely great. It provides a wealthy insight into the broad array of body image issues faced by women in today’s society.

As a figurative artist whose work tries to focus on these issues I went into this with what I had considered a pretty fair knowledge of the subject. I came away from this book with a new and much greater understanding that body image issues which face women today are far greater than just having curves that don’t fit the societal and male stereotypes. This book provides insight into all sorts of issues, such as tattoos, height, hair, being too skinny, ethnic stereotypes, and others.

Its an eye opening exploration of the topic both men and women should read. It brings to light to the many ways in which we as a society need to expand our narrow definitions of beauty and why such existing definitions are harmful.

This book has helped me to expand and grow my work and constantly keep thinking of ways and ideas I can use my work to expand our definitions of beauty. It along with feedback I get from the women in my life and my work has forced me to reflect on how my work can also be used to heal the damaging effects of narrow ideals.

Many thanks to Rebecca Walker and Ophira Edut and the many women whom contributed their personal experiences to this book for opening my eyes to something greater and providing me with some new and fresh perspectives on body image issues!!!

The Storyteller – Final

September 3, 2010 12:57 pm

There’s something seriously sadomasochistic about creating a 5 foot wide pastel drawing. Here’s why.

They are very difficult to store.

Some pastel artists will use something called a spray fixative. It applies a clear coating that bonds the pastel chalk particles to the paper, reducing the chances of smudging and “preserves” the drawing. I learned a long time ago this also slightly alters the look of a piece. To some artists the alteration is insignificant, to artists like me there’s it is simply unacceptable. I will not fix a drawing ever at anytime.

This leaves the surface more vulnerable to damage from smudging and other forms of contamination such as dust prior to framing.

Theoretically to store a pastel before framing one could cover it with tissue paper and store it in a flat file drawer system. 2 problems here. First my studio is too small for 6 foot wide flat files, and I honestly am not even sure they make them that big. Second, I use very high end, very expensive pastels these days. I use them because of their incredible vibrancy. The colors are incredibly saturated and beautiful. You have to see them in person to really get a feel for how really, really rich they are. I don’t want anything coming in contact with the pastel, not fixative, not tissue paper, not anything. Ok I’m a little stubborn:) but it matters to me. I put in the time, effort, and money to make these the highest quality pieces I want them to stay at that level.

I have idea’s on how to get them to the framer’s without anything coming in contact with the surface. I can build a recessed cardboard carrier, keep it flat the whole time. Shouldn’t a problem.

Storage until then? Until I can afford to frame them (will get to that problem shortly) I am storing them on the walls of my studio. Problems again. I have high ceilings but a lot of work building up in here. A couple more of these pastels and I’m out of space:( They are also vulnerable to dust but I don’t have too many worries about smudging.

Framing…
So as it has been explained to me due to their size these can not be framed using glass. Ugh. They will need to be framed with plexi-glass. Ok simple right? Nope, more problems. The static electricity from the plexi-glass will over time draw the pastel figments away from the paper and to the glass surface, obviously creating an undesired effect. To offset this effect the drawing will need to be framed in a deep box and spaced back from the glass.

Also…I always liked the double mat look. Due to the large size they will need to be single mat. I can live with that though and I have considered though no mat as they have tape edges that will be peeled away upon framing. A mat may not be necessary.

Anyhow due to all of this framing for just 1 piece like this will cost around $1000. I am ok with that price if its of the highest quality but coming up with that uh I already spent it making the piece lol.

Dust!
And the amount of pastel dust all over my studio is incredible.

So why create artwork that is so difficult to store, costs $1000 to frame, has around $700 in pastels on it, high quality expensive paper, the model, the studio overhead etc. ?(time spent yeah right)

I have to.

So I contemplated not. I contemplated making some more small pencil drawings, work on something else, ink, a smaller pastel maybe. I contemplated it for all of about 2 hours telling myself all of the above and why I shouldn’t, but I could see her, I could see her 5 feet wide and she was powerful, she was beautiful. I never stood a chance, she was getting made and she was getting made at this size!

So I make art that is difficult to store, to frame and even more difficult to sell (I will have to find very high end buyers). Sadomasochism at its finest!

I think though if I can make 12-15 of these and frame them I’ll have a body of work I can approach a serious gallery with. Until then…

Heat Wave

September 1, 2010 6:17 pm

Almost finished with the background. Should be able to finish up tonight. Pretty happy with it. Treading lightly and slowly on the face, I’m scared to wreck it :-0

She’s almost 5 feet wide by 3 feet tall. Big and powerful!

There’s been a heat wave here in NYC. I think it got up to 96 today. I am working on this under 2 150 watt lamps (at least I’m not painting, that would mean 3 lamps). They are kicking off some serious heat and with no windows in my studio that means no air conditioning or fresh air. Because of the pastel dust no fan either. Its pretty hot!!! I’m just grateful to be drawing right now. Its one of the best feelings in the world!