So, with Mexico behind me, and six weeks worth of 'everything' to catch up on, I find myself back drawing animals, after sketching the Mexican landscape, city scape, churches, flora, fauna, statues... you name it.
The brief for this particular drawing is a vet opening up an obedience training school. He wants a natural/organic feel, friendly and warm. My intention was to source a dog and add hoops and frisbees where they weren't present. I had to take into consideration the original photograph's perspective and change the shading and perspective accordingly. I went for a fairly natural look, although I've decided to do a second drawing, perhaps just the line work, or in pen and ink...
The drawing then has to be taken into a colouring package where I intend to give it a backdrop and possibly an 'organic' texture.
Again with drawing the animals, ensure the eyes are right - the eyes tell you a fair bit about the dog and so getting them right sets the scene for the rest of the picture.
I did redo the drawing a second time, because the perspective on the frisbee was off. Ensure the perspective lines up if you are creating something that looks realistic to a degree; it's all that discussion about the 'uncanny valley', so if you're trying to sell the realism, ensure the texture, such as fur, cloth, shines etc. are where they should be. Proportion wise I have used a photograph that had a fair bit of perspective distortion on the image, all I did was make the ear closest to the camera a bit smaller.
The line work is about 90% there, what I need to do next is check out the form and tone. This is a dynamic pose, with a fair bit of balance (e.g. two hoops, big head, larger right hoop etc. so I just need to ensure there is balance in the lights and tonal darks of the pencil. For this one, I've worked smaller - A4, because I had 4 hours to do the actual drawing and approx 2 hours sourcing images. On that note, I would usually photograph my own reference, which I'm trying to do more of, but I think I'd need a trainer to get a dog to do this!
Work in progress....
Walking through the Blue House, you get a great sense of the life of Frida and then later Diego. Frida's father built the Blue House, which is mainly where she grew up, and then in her later years, it is where Diego and Frida returned to live. Things that struck me about the house and how it must have been for Frida to have lived there when her health was failing after her divorce from Diego, included how physically small she must have been. I imagined this larger than life character, flamboyant and Amazonian - or perhaps a little smaller. In fact, as the corsets (one of about 150 I believe) show, plus the wheelchair she sat on at her easel, she was of a slim, small to medium frame. Diego towered over her, and I believe she would have liked that - could it be that she thrived on intellectual and sexual dominance during her younger years? From reading her autobiography Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo [Paperback] by H. Herrera, she enjoyed the impact she had on men (and women) often through her appearance and her ability to control conversations through body, wit and inuendo,
The biography tells of a challenging relationship between the couple, and it was their divorce that lead her to do many of her best works. Consider this, here is a woman, in pain, on her back in a brace for almost a year at a time, drinking to ease the pain and still producing some of the most iconic images of any female painter of the era in Mexico (and I'd even go as far as to say abroad). Her Surrealist connections never involve other female painters, except for mention of Georgia O'Keefe, who Frida respected to a degree. From a few of the comments from Herrera's book (made by Frida) I'd say she made no attempt to hide her sexual orientation, which may have been a little confronting for female artists, such as O'Keefe.
The problem I do have with Hererra's paperback is the front cover - it has the film version actress Selma Hayek posing. Assuming that Hererra's book as used as the basis for the film, I'd say they went as far as to leave out major facts about Frida, her passions and intelligence, and her wars, instead portraying some watered down version of an artist, romanticising her struggles and ignoring the best parts of who she really was. Herrera's book says much more, in about 900 pages.
Below are two of her sketches from her journal. As Diego was a major source of inspiration, much of his Aztec influences and European interests filtered into Frida's work. She opted for a more naive style of painting, but many of her sketches showed stone, arteries, thought and construction, and raw pain....
I am sitting in a lovely little hostel in the Coyoacan region of Mexico City... it is my birthday today and the first time I get to a pc. Obviously it would take me all night and a few days to relay my experiences of Mexico, so I will take the time to type out my diary entries over the next few weeks, and add images and doodles of my adventures. But, to now, what brings me here... Frida Kahlo. The woman, the legend, the artist and the fighter. The lover and the tormented. My passion for Frida started many years ago, and possibly because - like many - I dismissed much of her artwork because I never understood it. I have spent about ten years, revisiting her work, her life story and I feel I am just beginning to understand this extraordinary woman who was.
Starting four weeks ago, I set out to Mexico City, and on day one, I hopped in an overpriced tourbus which slowly worked its way towards the Coyoacan region, where Frida grew up, and spent much of her adult life. I was given a direct order, 1 hour, and then we move on. I studied Frida and Diego Riveria's dwellings with awe and so much more appreciation than I had expected. The beautiful garden, the wonderful studio that has windows to let in natural light all throughout. Reference books, paints, easels... her deathbed, it was overwhelming.
On that day, I vowed to return to Frida's home - The Blue House, built by her father - and here I am, three weeks later... I have every intention to take in the Rivera|Kahlo dwellings, visit the galleries they frequented, and have a day to draw and paint in this beautiful garden. No tours, no busses, not more markets, just Frida and me.
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Tanya is a traditional and digital artist, living in Brisbane and inspired by all that is 'Art'.