Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Figure Invention taught by Lucas Graciano - Notes and Review

Figure Invention at Watts Atelier - taught by Lucas Graciano

"Really great, innovative and fresh drawing exercises!" - reviewed by Chris Chien

This was a special 5- week course at Watts Atelier. It was only $220! What a steal compared to the $600-$700 price tag of CDA. The scenic drive from Irvine to San Diego was beautiful and almost NEVER had any traffic. The students there were very talented and it was a great energy.

That's student work you see on the walls. And...any instructors at the school were also previously students. 

Week 1: Drawing Mannequins

At first I thought this was pretty basic. But I found the exercise very helpful. I'm glad the instructor had us draw from photographs instead of the live model (I find that it's very easy to get distracted by all the details on the live model) It was much easier to concentrate on the task at hand with a simple photograph. You could take your time and really focus on simplifying the form. 

Teacher's Demo

The teacher gave us handouts, and we turned them into mannequin drawings. 

Week 2: Change the pose

In this week's lesson, we mannequin training really paid off. We copied a photo from a photograph and we had to rotate the pose - like it was on a turntable. It was a some guesswork - but if you understood the form correctly - you could do it. It was a great challenge. 

The left and right drawings are different. The left one is drawn according to the drawing. The right one - I reversed the pose (if you look carefully - the legs are different.)

In the left drawing - I drew it according to the model. And the the instructor had us draw the same drawing, but in a slightly higher perspective. 

Week 3: Face. Mastercopy + application

At first - I wasn't sure the purpose of this exercise - but this ended up being my favorite lesson! We did a master copy. And then we stylized the photograph as if that artist did it! Really helped me internalize things and STEAL techniques so it's my own - rather than just copy. 

 Instructor Demo: doing a "Mucha" master copy. During the master copy - he really stressed the importance of going slow and taking your time. Most people rush their master copies and just go for the big picture. But this instructor really instructed us to get the structure down but find the small subtleties as well!

(Left Top) That was my Mucha master copy. 
(Left Bottom) This was a copy of the photographed STYLIZED with what I learned from doing the master copy. This was a SUPER helpful exercise. And really helped me digest what I learned from doing the master copy and put it in use!

Week 4: Drapery from Model

Instructor's Demos: In this lesson - he taught us the 7 different types of folds. He really broke it down. Then when he was teaching us that the folds should really help explain the form. DO NOT COPY WHAT YOU SEE. Sometimes the folds go against the form, or the fold changes as the model moves. But if you understand the different 7 types of folds, you can make it up and it will look realistic. 



Above are my drawings. The lesson was super helpful. Later that week - I drew a cute cosplay girl with a nice dress. I think that week's lesson REALLY helped me make the drawing look so much better. I learned to not just copy the photograph, but interpret in a way that shows the information more clearly. 

Week 5: Draw Model from Memory + Change the Pose

Instructor's demo: This was a GANGSTA lesson. So the model would pose for 5 minutes. And you would just memorize the pose. Then for the next 5 minutes you would draw FROM MEMORY! It was so crazy.  And then to take it even further - you would take the drawing you created, and draw the model from an alternate angel view! Then the model would pose from the back view and you can check to see if you were correct/ make any changes! 

(above) These drawings were created from memory. Afterwards, the model would get back in the pose, and you could make any necessary corrections. This really challenges your brain and pushes your comfort zone!

(above) These were drawings I created. We had to recreate them from memory after staring at the model from 5 minutes. And then translate the drawing to a different angel! In the drawing on the right, the instructor told us to draw the model from a higher up angel! This was really challenging - cuz there was no way to check if you were right or not! 

 Class Pros & Cons/ Observations

- Only $220! Great Deal for 5 weeks. I don't feel like a 5 week course is inferior to a 10 week course  you probably will learn the most important essentials anyways.

- Class is not reoccurring. The school constantly changes it's course schedule from term to term. So you won't be able to get the same deal/ take the same class I did.

- Small class size - about 10 students.

- Great Handouts every class! The class was well structured and the teacher was very organized.

- No homework/ critique. Is this a good thing or bad thing? You decide. You can show the teacher some of your work during the breaks - but there really isn't a formal time for it.

- Very solid classes. Each lesson had a different theme and lesson - so you were learning something NEW each week - with practical exercises that you could do at home.

- I was a little annoyed that people kept asking me how many classes I was taking. The culture at Watts is that students take 3-5 classes a term. And students don't have any homework. I come from a culture where you do a minimum of 3+ hours of homework for every 1 hour of class (at least that's the expectation at Art Center and Carnegie Mellon). It seems strange to me that students and instructors glorify the class hours - and skimp on the homework hours. But whatever - it's just very their school's culture. You can always do extra homework on your own time.

- Despite what I just said previously, most of the students have very exceptional skill from taking lots of classes.  In my opinion, the collective technique skill of the students (in terms of figure drawing) is superior to that Concept Design Academy, Kazone, 3 Kicks Art Studio and LAAFA. You can easily reason that it's their primary focus and hence their strength.  The advantage is that you are surrounded that a higher level of talent and that pushes you more. I would definitely go to Watts to learn figure drawing - and go to another school to learn perspective, digital illustration, concept art and stuff.

Had a great time with the class. I take classes at Watts every once so often. While the San Diego drive is scenic - it's still long 60 minute drive from my house. I think these fine art classes are good for refreshing your art muscles - but there will always be a jump between academic drawing and commercial illustration - and it's up to the student to make that jump. Instructors who tell you that landscape painting and figure drawing will directly help you get a job are... probably just trying to get you to take more classes with them. lol

 I really enjoyed the class and I had a lot of fun. I would recommend you taking the class - except it's not offered next term - and there is no way of predicting when it will be offered. lol. :) Good luck.

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