Friday, November 09, 2007

More Existential Crises

Continuing the theme of turmoil and existential crisis, at least to the extent that I ever do it, I finally signed up for the drawing class that I've been telling myself I was going to sign up for. Over time, I've figured out that theatre is the field I ought to be in, and design seems to be the specialty that works for me. I've been getting a little annoyed with lighting design, though. The problem is that I can spend all kinds of time giving a script a close reading and figuring out how to reinforce that story with my lighting, but it pretty much always ends up being a warm wash and a cool wash and some saturated washes from the top, back, and/or sides. It's a rewarding process to light a show, but I want to do more than just reinforce the work of the other designers and the director of a show. I also don't think that my finished product is that different from what I'd create if I read the script a couple times and called it a day. Since I'm going to do the research one way or the other, I think I want to do something with a larger role in the production and where the research time will make more of a difference.

Which brings me to sets. The problem with sets is that right now I really only have the skills to build a fairly basic, non-structural set and then not paint it. I haven't done any scenic painting and since I seem to have a skin contact sensitivity to latex, I can't learn it any time soon. I hate painting anyway, so this is not such a bad thing, but if I can't just build a set myself I need to be able to express what it should look like. Which means I need to know what it should look like. I like to think I'm a pretty good draftsman, but I can't freehand draw to save my life. Let's not talk about other skills in fine arts right now. So I can read a script, research the script, production, etc., and visualize a set. Great. But I can't show anyone else what I want it to look like. How to build it, yeah, maybe. But not what it looks like.

It's bothered me for a while that I can't do renderings to present a lighting design, but at the level of theatre where I've been doing design work it hasn't really been a problem. With sets, though, I think that not only do I need to be able to do a rendering to present to other people, I need to be able to do a rendering to present to me. Theatrical design is visual, and it's hard to think about something visual that I can't actually see. To some extent, I can get around this with tools like SketchUp, but I'd rather be able to do it without a computer to distract me, at least at the initial stages. So all that brings me back to drawing.

I've had two drawing classes now. I'll be taking that class two evenings a week through the end of the month, and most likely for the first half of next month before going away to Lake Tahoe. I should try to draw some landscapes out there. It's a life drawing class, which means drawing a model doing short poses - usually around five or ten minutes, sometimes as much as twenty minutes or as few as two. My instinct is to look for the strongest parts of the outline and start there, but the technique that the teacher is teaching is to draw parts of the body, mostly by apparent mass. So an oval for a head, a column for a neck, etc. He tries to ignore anatomy, which is impossible for me to some extent because with all the dance training I can already name most of the muscles, at least by group, and I have a hard time seeing an arm without seeing it motivated by delts, traps, and lats. But I feel like I've been doing a lot better trying to do his way, and I can already see my sense of proportion improving. I think that working with a person rather than objects is a good way to learn this because since objects are inorganic shapes, in general, I could probably get away with reinforcing all kinds of bad habits just drawing them. It might make me a better freehand draftsman, but there are computers, or, failing that, rulers, protractors, compasses, etc., so I don't really need to be a good freehand draftsman.

Anyway, when I get back from Tahoe in January, I'll need to figure out about some next steps, and get back to trying to land design jobs. Between all the recent drama and the fact that I've been working a ton and making enough to zero out my credit card and buy new sports toys, I've been getting off track a little. But taking this class seems to be a really good step.

1 comment:

numbersgirl said...

As usual, the things you are doing fascinate me. I can't think of a much greater challenge that to study drawing: it requires such patience with one's own shortcomings. It sounds as if you have found that patience and are seeing positive results. My admiration knows no bounds. Rock on.