by Gregory Conley, B.A. in Studio Arts
Ruth Block kindly donated her "Painting the Figure in Watercolor with Ruth Block, Part I: The Gestural Approach" instructional video for review and for our giveaway. Here's a quote from her site:
"Ms. Block holds a B.A. in Art Education and a M.A. in Counseling from Michigan State University. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and in Mexico at the Belles Artes and in the Masters of Fine Arts Program at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She is currently an MFA candidate at John F. Kennedy University.
Ms. Block continues to teach art classes and workshops to adults in the San Francisco Bay Area where she currently resides. She is devoted to her own passion for creating meaningful art as well as to facilitating this process for her students."
Painting the Figure in Watercolor with Ruth Block, Part I: The Gestural Approach
The Gestural Approach concentrates on loosening your style up through a series of short critiques of student work, demos of the lessons with poses, followed by actual timed life model poses that you can work from. Be forewarned that this video is as if you are attending an actual art school class, only some of the poses include clothing. There's no other way to study the human form than by having it directly in front of you.
Ruth walks you through basic materials and palette layout as you prepare to do some large brush monotone exercises. Ruth will focus you in to translate the pose into it's basic elements and talks you through each decision she makes as she demos each lesson. You will learn to interpret the flow of gesture as Ruth guides you through learning to boldy state the essence of the human form in space.
The lessons layed out on this tape cycle through many, many poses that increase in length from 1 minute to 5 minutes. Each lesson increases in complexity as you learn to use the white space and varied tone for implying depth and overlapping all the way through costumed multi-toned lessons of longer length. By the end of the tape you are working with a combination of washes and watercolor pencils, exploring the addition of line to enhance your work.
The material you learn using The Gestural Approach is equivalent to a college-level workshop. Each lesson point is explained well and there is even Ruth's narration during the extra poses. She points out different elements you should pay attention to as you work your way through the pose.
The only reason I gave this a 4.5 star rating was due to the actual physical editing of this tape. What starts out as an excellent fixed structure of timed sequences and lessons, finally ends up short a pose or two with an apology tacked on and a long wrap up pose added. The confusion can be ignored due to the fact that you are getting a great resource with well over 2 dozen timed life drawing/painting poses and some excellent in-class instruction with student work critiques. Had only a couple extra segments been scripted, this tape could have been edited to save us the weirdness towards the end.
www.Watercolorpainting.com recommends "Painting the Figure in Watercolor with Ruth Block Part I: The Gestural Approach" as an excellent aid for professional level at-home study of the human figure in watercolor.
There is a companion tape available, "Painting the Figure in Watercolor with Ruth Block, Part 2: Expressive Techniques I," in which Ruth continues the gestural approach with an introduction to color as it relates to the figure, mixing color, painting in shadow shapes, using and ignoring boundaries, and an introduction to building layers with glazing.
Both tapes in this series sell for $64 each, or you can order both at once for $109 directly from Artists Interactive Video.
Ruth is also the author of the highly acclaimed life drawing series, "Classical Life Drawing", an impressive, professional-level life drawing course that spans an 8-tape array of classic life drawing workshops. Many auxilary study tapes for the professional artist are also available at AIV.
Greg Conley, 2003, 2005