Burne Hogarth class notes

When I went to art school (Otis in Los Angeles) many moons ago, I knew I needed to get better at figure drawing. I had already taken several semesters at the local Community College (Glendale College, aka GCC) and had a wonderful teacher there. But after a while, I’d exhausted all my possible semesters of life drawing and it was time to move on.

I happened to see an ad in the L.A. Times for this art school, called Otis. I had never heard of it before, but I sent away for a catalog. And when I got the catalog, I knew that it was where I wanted to go. (I also considered Art Center in Pasadena, but it was a no-go, because it would have been too difficult to get there by bus. So, that’s how I made my decision for Otis. Bus routes.)

Anyway, I had some semesters of wonderful classes there, which showed me more about anatomy and figure drawing and I was doing okay, and improving. Then one semester, the new schedule came out and among the figure drawing classes listed, was one taught by  . . . Burne Hogarth.

No, that’s not good enough—just typing it out like that—that doesn’t have enough gravity. BURNE FRIGGING HOGARTH.

There.

Burne Hogarth class notes

Cropped page from my sketchbook. Class notes from Mr. Hogarth’s class. Click on image to see the full page.

Oh my goodness. I think I shrieked right there in class (wherever I was) and made a complete scene in front of everyone, pretty much babbling, “BURNE HOGARTH! BURNE HOGARTH!!!” over and over again. Several other students wondered what my problem was, and then I explained, between excited shrieks, that this guy has written one of the best instructional books on figure drawing and anatomy and I had studied his books from cover to cover and they rocked my world. And now he was going to teach there. At Otis! Sign me up!

Several of the other students who heard me shriek about Hogarth signed up for his class too, just based on my reaction. They later told me that they were soooo glad that they did.

Burne Hogarth class notes

Cropped page from my sketchbook. Class notes from Mr. Hogarth’s class. Click on image to see the full page.

Mr. Hogarth (as we all called him) was a wonderful teacher, very old school. Always full of information and ideas. He’d draw these biiig drawings on an easel at the front of the class and lecture on whatever part of the anatomy he was covering that week. It was amazing to watch him work.

He attracted some very advanced students. There was an art teacher from one of the Cal States (who was already a fantastic artist) who asked everyone to not mention to Mr. Hogarth that he was a teacher too; he was just there to learn from the Great Hogarth. There were some illustrators, comic book artists, and a guy from Disney as well. Some really amazing people. And some “regular” students, like me! It was such a fun class and I know it helped me improve my skills a lot. I was lucky to have a couple of semesters with him. I’ll never forget.

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Figure drawing resumes at GotART gallery! (Nudity)

Yay, GotART has resumed its figure drawing sessions, every other week. I’ve missed figure drawing so much. It’s my belief that every artist (especially figurative artists—but seriously, every artist) needs to return to the fundamentals, and one of those is figure drawing. It’s one of the hardest things to draw (so they say) and so it’s a wonderful way to keep on your toes.

We had a new artist join us last time. She said she hadn’t been doing any sort of art that long, and she was worried that her life drawing wasn’t good. She said it was the first time she’d ever attempted anything like it. Well, I thought she was awesome, especially considering her relative lack of experience. She knows she needs to practice (don’t we all) but I think she’s off to a great start.

That’s something I feel very (VERY) strongly about. That you get started and you don’t give up. Even if you don’t think you’re very good, you’ll never get any better if you don’t keep working at it. I hold great respect for anyone who plants their butt in a chair and struggles through something difficult like figure drawing. It doesn’t matter how well their drawings turn out, but that they’re THERE. Doing the work. Improvement will come in time. What matters is the commitment to doing the work. Without that, there’s no hope, is there? That’s true for everything.

Okay, here’s a few of my sketches from that session. Done in my 9×12 sketchbook, with one of those mechanical clickie pencils. Most of the poses were maybe 5-20 minutes, I think. I was not feeling very perky (it’s always hard coming back to figure drawing after an absence), but it’ll be better next time.

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“Sneaky” oil sketch, almost done

A little 5 x 7 oil painting, done for the fun of it and for practice. It probably took 90 minutes to get this far. He has a sneaky gleam to his eye, so that’s what I’m titling this painting.

It’s not quite done, as it needs some additional tweaks. (I adjusted the problems, sort of, in Photoshop, to see how it looks, and now I must do it in real life!) And I need to finish the hair. I’m trying to refine my technique and aim for a looser, more free style, and it’s my hope that these little oil sketches will help with that.

oil sketch“Sneaky,” oil on linen board, 5 x 7 inches.

UPDATE: “Sneaky” has now turned into “Sideway Glance” and you can see him finished on this page.

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