Monday, January 26, 2015

Huston lecture 6 notes

When I first decided to search for any Steve Huston videos and found these excellent lectures, my intention was to see if I like his teaching to decide whether I should sign up for New Masters Academy or not. I do. But now, after looking at a bunch of previews of what's on offer in there, I've decided between these lectures, the free gesture tutorials on NMA, and all the Vilppu videos I've seen, there's really ho need for NMA. Honestly it doesn't look like either of them is teaching significantly different stuff there than what I've already seen from them. The only reason would be for more repetition and better video/sound quality really. Though I must say repetition is actually a damn good reason in itself - it's how we learn after all.

Anyway, on to the notes. First 40 minutes -


getting the whole - everything being part of a greater picture.

the parts are like notes, the gesture and composition are like melody, more important. The journey rather than the individual steps.

Stretch is the gesture (most instructors say gesture s stretch pinch and twist). Pinch is the form - if you draw the stretch to get gesture and then define the forms the pinch takes care of itself.

Each stretch leads to a pinch, then another stretch, Though sometimes several forms or parts can be included in a single stretch or pinch.

But the figure is a dynamically balanced set of stretches and opposed pinches.

Basic art history tour through from Egyptian front/side views through Kritios boy standing stiff to be seen frontally only, to classical Greek sculpture defined by Controppasto.

But then he takes it farther, and I wasn't aware of this part --

Michelangelo created modern dynamism in art

Michelangelo went beyond controppasto by bending the figure forward at the waist and exaggerating the twist through it. Classical contrapposto is a relaxed standing pose with opposed tilts of the big forms against each other and a subtle twist through it as well - the well-known 'line of the gesture', which is important in classical Ballet. But Michelangelo also bent the waist forward to bring in another dimension to the action - rather than ranged along essentially an upward line (though twisting and bending a bit), the line itself now bends toward the viewer or away from the viewer. Huston called this 'thinking like a painter rather than a sculptor', because it would be difficult or impossible in heavy brittle stone. This idea enables more complex and active painting like Tiepolo and Frazetta, with all their extreme dynamism.


3 levels to composition--


  • Values


  • Key


  • Gesture
  • Structure
  • Armature
Art is about integrating everything into a cohesive whole. This is true for each of these categories of composition. We usually integrate by reducing choices - limited colors, limited values etc - group complex muscles into groups by function.

The drawn composition (armature I suppose?) is basically a way of taking the individual figures and other elements and applying the ideas of gesture to them to unify the entire image through one idea.

Composition is design + a concept

Many schools teach that composition is only design, but that's just a modern idea and too simplistic. It's really all the elements of design brought together to create a single idea that unifies the image - a narrative.

Composition (drawn) is made of shapes in alignment. The shapes are flat versions of forms, and are analogous to the forms making up figures, and alignment is gesture.

Shapes and colors and numbers can have symbolic meaning. Used not as design but to help tell the story.

Really good stories have a theme that runs even underneath the story. The theme is the concept.

The theme/concept guides selection of symbolic shapes, colors, numbers and how they're arranged.

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