Mutant Human Drawings by Laura Spector
Mutant Drawings by Laura Spector
I could paint before I could draw. I was a professional artist for several years until one day I realized, "Hey, I can't draw!". I would imagine that it would be similar to that of being a senior in high school and not knowing how to read. It was a bit embarrassing and daunting to say the least. I have actually found out that this is fairly common syndrome among painters. After all, drawing and painting use the same theories, but they are two very different activities. To be good in one, doesn't mean you're good at both. Nor does it mean you can't be good at the one you're doing. And, in contemporary schools, not much time is spent on teaching skills, more time is spent in the critique room learning how to talk about art, versus making it.
I began learning how to draw from classes that my collaborator was teaching at an International School. I practiced constantly. I had notebooks I would carry around with me. When I didn't have access to paper or pencil, I would follow the outlines of things around me as if my eyeballs were the lead of a pencil and I would create lavish drawings on six hour bus trips that existed in the air and in my imagination. Soon I became interested in drawing from the figure.
The stigma of artists working from models is the sexy part of art. For some reason, film directors enjoy depicting artists in their studios with a bottle of wine and a nude woman on a furry sofa. The truth is usually that the artist drinks after they finish working, so they can have a steady hand while they work. And, many artists have in the past have actually preferred male models to female ones. (Check out the apple breasts on the few female models that Michelangelo depicts. They look like this because he was drawing from men and adding the breasts after the fact. This was a very common practice throughout art history.). And, models are expensive. So, they rarely just "hang out" in studios these days. On average, one could expect to pay upwards of $65.(USD) for a one on one session working from a nude model. And, to find really professional models that know how to move through space and are confident in their skin sans tattoos, is a challenge on its own!
I committed to working from the model every Saturday morning for two years. I showed up to the figure drawing sessions as if it were my religion from 10am-1:30pm. And, in between Saturdays I would draw people sitting in cafe's. I finally figured out how to draw the figure. Shapes, perspective, volume, values, foreshortening, line quality; I had figured out how to capture what I wanted to draw and to draw what I was actually seeing.
One day, I got bored. (Must have been the Gemini in me).
Books I Recommend:
It started with a simple profile of a male nude. (Entitled, "Warp"). I began repeating him again and again on the same page, thus mutating what it was that I saw.
Once I figured out how to break the figure apart, there was no stopping me. I found a way to make figure drawing once again challenging and fun. I enjoyed figuring out what part to repeat, oftentimes referring to Cubism, yet challenging myself into new realms. I wanted to create something fresh that I hadn't seen yet. I wanted the works to consist of truth, beauty and humor. And, as I continue creating them, they continue to evolve. Perhaps one day onto canvas or into sculpture. But, for now, I'm quite content to keep mutating the human form.
One of the works, "Mantis", was used for an album cover, "Geography of Hungry Ghosts" by Matthew Whiston and Bradley Dean Whyte. Which, at the time of writing this, is a free download on their website. (And, a darn good album too!).