Exploring the human figure through yoga asanas (postures)
In this chapter, I was drawing through a series of yoga postures gathering ideas that I aim to explore now, through a more free and experimental approach.
RED SERIES- watercolor and phototransfer:
DEEP BACKBENDS- The fearbird
“The fearbird” is a personal symbol that comes back to me often, a flutter of wings in the chest when going into deep backbends, and then the release when the pose is completed. A flock of birds, or wings or the stiff frozen bird of fear are images that have often appeared in my drawings before and it is an idea I want to continue exploring.
Here I am in Laguvajrasana imagining a flock of birds released from my heart.
I make a series of experiments in A4 of different deep backbends- inspired by Louise Bourgeois using red watercolor:
It is definitely the last one that I will keep developing. I see the figure in watercolor as it is now, with the “fearbird” as a foto transfer of a flock of real birds. Here some small tests:
Roots growing through my feet or hands is another image that comes up in several poses like where the contact to the Earth is very dominant. It could be a close up of only the hands or feet with the roots growing.
Finally I crop the figure til only the feet are left- standing still in Samastitih- equal standing- stability and roots.
Roughly drawn shapes in watercolor (Louise Bourgeois, Marlene Dumas). But then I am attracted to the mix of the more illustrative feet of the last drawing, combined with the abstract shape of roots or connection.
I am testing various other wet on wet or watercolor approaches, but will stick to the red version with the fototransfer of the birds.
A third image I want to develop is Garbha Pindasana- the embryo in the womb pose. The name alone lends itself to a lot of imagination.
I am exploring how this can work in a series:
But it is definitely this version I want to develop:
This seemed to all fit very well til I got more experimental with the first posture- Garbha Pindasana and realize it really looks weird and difficult to understand if you are not very familiar with the pose (A4):
I will change for Balasana- the childs pose- a similar message but a simpler shape:
These are the final drawings in A4:
In a series it looks like this (3xA4) :
I am happy I experimented with fototransfer and explored the postures much more loosely and less detailed, it feels like new territory again. I am rather happy with the two drawings to the right, the feet and the backbend. The womb pose does not quite work yet.
YOGA MAT DRAWINGS
In this experiment I wanted to explore the movement of the yoga practice without focusing on the external shape it takes. So I cut brown packaging paper the size of my yogamat.
And was drawing the marks left by my hands and feet on this mat. In this first version I was simply outlining the hands and feet with a black Uniball pen while moving through the yoga sequence. In the end I added white ink to clarify some surfaces:
Here are some details I really like:
I like the ghostlike character of the lines, but decided to try out a thicker blacker line so I switched to charcoal sticks instead:
and some details:
Here the smearing of the charcoal created some surface and I like this mix of multiple lines and some tone.
For these two drawings I kept interrupting the practice though, to outline the hands and feet, and now I wanted to experiment with covering my hands and feet with charcoal so that I could leave marks while moving fluidly:
This felt wonderful to draw, and I think you can feel the movement, but it all got very smeared. Lastly I added some outlines of the feet in white charcoal to bring back some clearer shape. I am quite happy with this mix of flow and line.
Lastly I repeat the same experiment stepping into acrylic paints, to try and keep the fluidity while preserving the marks as well:
In the end I dripped paint and ink over the marks, Jackson Pollock like. This version was really fun but the result is chaotic.
Finally I could of course not resist a photo session of my paint covered feet:
I am really happy with these yoga mat drawings. More with the process than with the results. It feels very much in line with my intention to explore this subject from a personal experiential place, rather than just looking at the shapes of the postures. It was a very creative and spontaneous process that feels freeing and joyful.
BACKDROP mini animation
I was looking at the series of picture of moving figures by Eadweard Muybridge, and experiencing my first backdrop after a long break- and practicing gesture drawing with action lines… Til it all came together in the idea of this small book of animation.
Every page has one part of the movement of dropping back. Flicking through the book creates a mini animation of the movement with the figure dropping back and standing up again. This blog does not allow videos… but maybe the idea is clear through these photos:
The backdrop happens twice in the booklet, dropping back, down, up, back down and up again.
COLLAGE AND LINE – cutting through yoga magazines
Despite my keen interest in the subject, it is rare that I read yoga magazines. I used to work in fashion a life time ago, and I guess I have just had my share of idealized, beautified versions of women, of body, of life. I even feel a little frustrated flipping through these magazines now, but feel satisfaction at ripping them apart and cutting body parts out. As I have mentioned before, my experience of yoga is definitely not only one of serene smiles in the midst of lotus flowers, but rather a tool in working out some rather dark corners. Inspired by the work of Wangeshi Mutu, here I am swinging the scissors for some collage combined with drawings, all A4:
Cosmic Warrior Mama:
I like the slick, clean look of leaving the background white and the figures standing out with a clear shape in the 3 first pages, so I decide to stop here. Originally I had some ideas of adding ink splashes or watercolor, but this “clean look” attracts me more. It also links back to the magazine world of beauty images.
ONE LINE FLOWING THROUGH THE SERIES- A CONCERTINA BOOK
Similarly to when I discovered Tracy Emin, when I first looked at Chloe Piene’s drawings, I could really not appreciate them. But now having tried to draw similarly, I start seeing the beauty of them and how they have a very personal language.
Here I have interpreted yogaposes with a ragged flowing loose line, inspired by her work, all A5 :
Downward dog and backbend- these are my favourites and in orange just to try something different. Chloe Pienes drawings are always in black.
Lagu Vajrasana and shoulder stand:
Utthita Hasta Padangustasana standing and Paschimottanasana, seated forward bend:
It was again very freeing to use this wild crazy line .
And from here came the idea to draw one line through the series, connecting pose with pose like the breath connects the movement. For this I will use my small concertina sketchbook, that will then unfold to reveal the whole series in one line.
I start by sketching out the “correct” poses ligthly in pencil and then draw with the wilder free line in black pens. This is not the series as I would practice them, it is a sequence that unfolded drawing it.
It is not so easy to photograph- but the end result is a concertina sketchbook with 32 panels:
As it happened over a long period of time, the line is quite different and even in different pens. At times I think it comes close to Chloe Piene’s wobbly line, at times more strict and straight with geometrical elements and at times very “sketchy”.
This is how the series look:
And some close ups of my favorite moments:
For assignment 5 , I connected two parts of my life that I love- drawing and yoga. I learned a lot about both! It has been very useful to continue with figure drawing. I love drawing the human body and will definitely continue learning here.
I was afraid I would fall straight into cliches about yoga art with this subject, but although my drawings are still too illustrative at times, I believe I avoided the most obvious pitfalls- not a single “OMmmmm” sign here!
I have really enjoyed looking closer at several contemporary artists work and let myself be inspired to explore their techniques or styles. My approach has become looser and more spontaneous through all these different experiments.
Through this assignment, I created the opportunity to use various media and combinations like watercolor with fototransfer and collage with line drawing, and also very different supports- from yoga mat sized drawings to two different series in tiny books.