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Getty Center Workshop on Drawing Drapery with Zhenya Gershman

October 27, 2010

Last week I took a 3-hour workshop with Zhenya Gershman at the Getty Center. I signed up for the class because I wanted to develop more facility with the drawing of drapery. My miniature illustrations,  such as  Media and Melancholy and Bipolar Depression and Family Support, contain figures wearing heavy robes.  I plan to continue using historical costume in my paintings, so mastering the “ins and outs” of drapery is important to me.

I expected the class to be useful but not necessarily fabulous. I didn’t bother to review the instructor’s credentials, so I was delighted to find out that  ZG is not only a master teacher, but a child prodigy, having received artistic acclaim in her native Russia from the age of 10!

Zhenya introduced herself individually to each student before the class started.  More teachers should do this; it establishes trust early and builds student confidence. Z projects tremendous energy and enthusiasm. Her lecture with images was deceptively breezy; to present so much content so clearly requires much research and preparation. The handouts were first-rate, concise yet suitable for  beginner or advanced student. A lot to take away for a 3-hour workshop!

I’m taking the “warts and all” approach and revealing my class drawings here. The first was from Z’s visual description and not from looking at the drapery:

drapery sketch first attempt

Sketch 1

I’m comfortable looking at things and sketching them, but not necessarily with drawing something from memory. So the result looks a little stereotypical, but I applied the idea of tension points that Z presented.  Note the point where the folds start to cascade.

Being more comfortable with looking and drawing at the same time, I came up with Sketch 2, based on fabric pinned to a form:

second drapery sketch

Sketch 2

While we were sketching,  Zhenya presented the idea of the “eye” of the fold, which was new to me. This is where “the fold is formed when pressure pushes material out in the center to form a more prominent point. The ‘eye’ is the starting point of all the planes.”*

This sounds technical but it’s easy to see, especially in classical drawings and paintings. You just have to look for it.

Enough with my drawing lesson. Here is the final sketch from a Flemish painting in [the location and artist into to be added later]. We had 45 minutes to work, so I got absorbed and forgot to write down the source.

Drapery Final Sketch

Final Sketch

For upcoming Getty Center short courses for adult learners, go to http://www.getty.edu/visit/calendar/events/Courses.html

*from Zhenya Gershman’s August/October 2010 handout

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