Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Intimacy and Fragility

Yesterday, Dan Thompson, my teacher for Figure Drawing Intensive at The New York Academy of Art took us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view master drawings. This was a special viewing, though, because we were walked into the guts of the MET, we went down some stairs, into a quiet library where you couldn't take out pens, only pencils, no cameras and no pictures. And the drawings that were most requested by the class, were brought out to us in pairs, there was no glass, no velvet rope to distance us from the drawings; we could get as close as we wanted to and if we wanted to see even closer, there were magnifying glasses provided to us.
There is a fagility to a drawing, if you don't seal it, it is easy for it to be damaged just by touching the paper; and even if you have sealed it, there is still risk of it being damaged.
A piece of paper is so easy to permanently damage. Even if a drawing is framed and protected by a piece of glass, that somehow makes it more vulnerable.
A painting is usually oil or acrylic paint applied over canvas or fabric, when a painting is finished, both elements (fabric and paint) somehow make each other stronger, the fabric with the paint feel like very sturdy, heavy and malleable plastic. The paint becomes an additional layer on the fabric.
Somehow, the same cannot be said for drawing.
But I digress.
That's one of the things that came to mind when I was looking upon these drawings that have been preserved for an indetermined amount of time.
One of my favorite drawings was a drawing of the head of a dog, I don't remember the name of the artist and it was done in watercolor and graphite.
The one the struck me the most was Michaelangelo's study of the Lybian Sybil. It's about 8 x 10 inches, it's small, this is one of the only ones that had glass on it.
I don't know why it struck me so much, maybe it's because I'd seen it so many times before, but this time I was looking at the original piece.
Along with the Michaelangelo drawing there was a Leonardo study. I think it was the moment that I saw Leonardo's that I kind of realized what was happening: Leonardo, the man himself, at some point in the past was looking upon this piece of paper, playing around with materials, experimenting, drawing. Leonardo himself touched this piece of paper, leaned over it and breathed over it.
These were merely studies for something further.
When an artist finishes a piece and shows it, he/she is ready to show the world the artwork, at this point the artist chooses to show the finished product. The drawings that I got to see were the premise to that moment of security, these drawings were like reading from a diary. An artist doesn't choose to show the sketches that came before the finished product, when the artists is still throwing ideas back and forth, looking for that which suits him or her the best.
This is a moment of vulnerability, moments of insecurity, taking notes. So, I basically got to see Leonardo and Michaelangelo in what I consider to be moments of hesitation and openness.
I have a hard time thinking of certain people as merely human, it's difficult for me to think of Trent, Leonardo and Michaelangelo as humans like me. Defective humans.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Today, I finished this Cast Drawing with Roberto Osti assignment. I drew the ear using a method called sight-size which was a pain in the ass, I seriously teared up, because I was so frustrated and angry at some point when I was starting out the drawing.
You're meant to put your paper right close to your cast, which is your reference and step back like six or seven feet and measure, so you walk back and forth, measuring and putting reference points in your paper, until you feel like you have enough reference points to just connect the dots and start working more and more detail into the drawing. You can work as much detail as you want into the drawing, except you have to keep walking back and for over and over again. It's an arduous process, to say the least, but it's a really good observational exercise. It's good to find relationships, points that converge on a single horizontal or vertical line.
I've thought of doing it maybe one more time, just to polish that observational ability, but I don't know if I want to subject myself to that again.
I decided after the third session of work, I think, to just take a fucking picture and take the thing to my studio and work from there, because I was up to my balls of walking back and forth. So, when I started putting on shadows and the ear was basically all drawn, I stopped walking back and forth.
So, my tools were a blending stump, a kneading eraser, an HB pencil and I drew over Canson paper. Whilst I was taking measurements, I was using a knitting needle, and I should have had a plumb line, but fuck that noise. I had enough with the knitting needle.
So here is the final result, I really like it, I'm going to frame it and put it up in my etsy shop, which is called Gabriela Handal Arte, because I have a lot of imagination.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Top Lit

Yesterday, I finished my final for Figure Drawing Intensive with Dan Thompson, here at the New York Academy of Art. The assignment was to choose one of the techniques that we used during the semester and make our final with that, the theme was completely our choice.
So, since I'd never done any of the techniques that we used before (I'd kind of done gesture drawing before, but never the way I did at Dan's class), I had a lot to choose from. Because I'm a big fan of overhead lighting and just really heavy lighting and heavy shadows, I chose the wipeout technique. For this technique, Dan instructed us to buy Canson's Mis Teintes paper and to tone it with charcoal, so this is what I chose.
I chose an orange and a grey colored paper, it's kind of what I saw in my mind's eye, I saw the same image on both papers, both off center, top lit. Self-portraits with my beanie. I've been drawing self portraits on the train, I've done several already, where I'm sitting on the train and I see my reflection on the glass across from me and it's top lit and I just love what I see.
Here is an example:

So for Dan's final, I kind of wanted the self-portraits to make it out of the art journal and become a kind of more finished and polished piece. When I was talking to Dan about it, he told me that I could play with how much of the eyes I wanted to reveal and he also suggested me not to use white for the highlights and lightest lights, he suggested to use something within the color range of the paper. So for the orange one, the lightest color is yellow and ochre and for the grey one, there's just different tones of grey, some blue and a teeny tiny bit of purple.
After a while, I decided (with the constructive criticism of a couple of colleagues and classmates) to treat both of them just slightly different; and so, with the orange one, I decided to go with the whole thing of revealing only part of the eyes and revealed part of the eyelids and with the grey one I played a bit more fantastically with it and drew in a bit of the irises and the pupil. The orange one feels super colorful, the background and the face, I used oranges, yellows and browns. The grey one, I think actually has more color, but doesn't feel colorful at all.
Both of them, I think are cool in the sense that there is that capacity of discovering those details of the eyelids and irises if you look long enough.
Since I've been here in New York, there has been a surprising influx of self-portraits. I generally don't think or care enough to dig deep into why I do certain things, sometimes a "meaning" just happens to come along whilst I'm making the piece and if it does, that's cool, I go with it.
I definitely have found it interesting how I'm suddenly making and wanting to make a bunch of self portraits, although that's definitely not all I'm doing. I haven't read much into the psychology of the self-portrait, maybe I will at some point, but I think that maybe (specifically with the ones in the subway), I'm kind of trying to SEE myself HERE in New York and in this school, just because it doesn't feel real. It feels like a dream or a twilight zone or a parallel dimension. I KNOW that I'm here, I just can't seem to believe it, so the self-portraits in the subway, I think are kind of a way of making myself believe that I am here in this completely foreign and new environment, that I really am living in New York, that I really did move to New York, that I really am studying at the New York Academy of Art.

So here are the drawings:

In other news, I have obtained a domain and I'm working on the website itself, I'm just gonna go with linking it to tumblr. The website address is just going to be, 'cuz I have a lot of imagination.
Either way, don't forget about my Facebook page, which by the way, I got a regular handle for:, easier to share!
Thank you for reading!

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I keep forgetting that this blog is about musings and art things, not just my work, so I decided that I would make a post that is not necessarily related with my work.

I stumbled into this video in my tumblr about three days ago and I've kept watching it since. I'm a pretty big fan of ballet, not an expert at all and I probably wouldn't go to a ballet, what I'm really a fan of is how powerful their bodies become and how they change, the control they have over their body. How their feet change, because although they dance with their entire body, their feet carry the weight the great majority of the time.

So, the dancing in this video, I think might be somewhere between ballet and contemporary dance. I don't know how old the girl might be, because I haven't cared enough to look, I think she might be somewhere in her teens, maybe getting close to twenty; I only think this because her body is so flat in every direction.
I wonder how many people questioned the performance and choreography, because she looks so young and the dancing is pretty sexy in some parts, I find the attitude of the choreography is kind of sexy. I have no doubt there is a freaking idiot out there that will comment that exact thing, but whatever, that is none of my concern.

The song is titled "Suspicion" and I agree that it's something that the music conveys, there's just barely a climax in the song, there are strings throughout that I think sound playful and mischievous.

Her dancing is quite flawless, I think, and I like her facial expressions. Sometimes she's doing regular dancing, but some other times she dances a long to the strings or the scarce drumbeat. The way the choreography starts and ends is the same: with her walking her hand back and forth, with her fingers, I think there is some playfulness and flirtatiousness in that.
To me, maybe because of her outfit, she's a Black Widow or a Femme Fatale or Catwoman. Perhaps, she'd be appropriate as Catwoman, maybe that's my favorite possibility, although I like the idea of her being a bit more evil than Catwoman, who's just an anti-hero. Maybe a mixture of Catwoman and the Black Widow, or one of those women who marry men and then kill them to keep their money, something along those lines.
The sinuosity of the dance and the waves she makes with her body remind me of a snake. Perhaps she's Klimt's Judith, but much more powerful.

Choreography by: Gina Starbuck Danced by: YAGP winner, Gisele Bethea Music: "Suspicion" by Drehz Filmed and Edited by: Naeem Munaf