Thursday, July 9, 2015

Joined Watts online atelier and ordered an Asaro head

Suddenly decided out of the blue yesterday to sign up for Watts. Definitely my biggest step since joining conceptart and taking LevelUp. Actually this is the best step I've ever taken in art education - everything else has been only a dress rehearsal. I felt like I was stagnating trying to self-motivate, and decided it was time - I had been planning to do this for some time actually. I also just ordered an Asaro head a few minutes ago - another step I've been meaning to take.

I think it was actually a good move to wait a while before joining - I've been watching all the Watts videos on YouTube - the Friday Night workshops etc, and learning a lot about how they do things, and I've had time to locate the materials they use, like the Conte 1710 Pierre Noire pencils and smooth newsprint. So many desperate comments from people who joined and now need to track down all this stuff.

Watched a bunch of the videos last night for Fundamentals phase 1. I had already found videos by other people about how Jeff wants you to sharpen the pencils - it's very specific and very extreme - a long taper that covers almost half the length of the pencil, which allows you to lay it down sideways when you want broad strokes. The 1710 is one of only a few charcoal pencils with a lead strong enough to allow this, plus you can easily get the full range of values depending on how hard you press - no fumbling with different grades of graphite or anything.

But now having listened to Jeff Watts rhapsodize about sharpening the pencils this way, I have a whole new level of respect for it. The pencils are your instruments - you have to learn this very difficult way of sharpening them and also lean how to hold them and rotate them as you draw so the point remains conical and round. Now they feel like little disposable violins that you get in boxes of a dozen and use them until they're little stubs before tossing them, and your job as art student is to become a virtuoso. The act of sharpening a few pencils before you draw is like a zen ritual where you ground yourself and get focused for the session, the way Sumi-e artists make a ritual of grinding their ink before drawing. He's also got me thinking of drawing in a whole different way - every mark being a thing of beauty.

Now I'm going in to start on Heads phase 1, which combines the Reilly abstractions with the Asaro planes and Loomis head construction. Exciting stuff!!

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