‘Experimental Drawing’ By Robert Kaupelis

On Saturday I went shopping at Fred Aldous in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. I’ve signed up for an e-course on Making Monoprints with Linda Germain using gelatin plates, and I needed some materials for the course.

While I was there, I treated myself to Experimental Drawing by Robert Kaupelis. Apologies if you already know it, but it’s new to me. It’s absolutely fascinating! It is written by an art teacher who gives quite odd exercises to his students. For example ’50 Drawings in Four Hours’ leads to some interesting results!

Kaupelis also describes getting his students to draw a well-out-of-focus image projected onto a screen at the front of the class. All they can do is shade the various areas of light and dark. After a few minutes, he sharpens the focus slightly. The students are able to add a little more to these areas. Gradually he sharpens the focus until after half and hour they have excellent drawings of an old woman with a very wrinkled face, that they would have struggled to draw in a ‘traditional’ way, but which they have actually drawn upside down.

Today I went to Julia’s drawing class and so I had a go at one of Kaupelis’s exercises. (Most of the other members of the group are happy to draw ‘straight’ from a photograph, but that doesn’t do anything for me.) This exercise was about distorted grids. A regular grid is drawn on the original photograph to be copied. Then a distorted grid is drawn on the paper. “You can make a few especially wide, a few too close together, slant some, curve some, or drop every other square slightly lower than the one to its left …”

Here is the selfportrait I drew (you can see the pencil lines of the distorted grid):

kaupelis01aAnd here is the original photograph I was using with its regular grid:


My right eye finished up in two large boxes while my nose and mouth were in tall narrow ones. I thought it was an interesting activity. Here are a couple of illustrations from the book:

kaupelis03akaupelis03bI don’t fully understand why the book portrait had ‘discontinuities’ between neighbouring boxes, such as the mouth. Surely if a feature cuts the right hand side of one box a third of the way up then it will cut the left hand side of the box to the right of it a third of the way up, since it’s the same line, and what is in one box is drawn in the corresponding one box, not in two different boxes.

While I was drawing my self-portrait, another artist made some comment about ‘vanity’. I’d never regarded self-portraits as being about vanity. Do you think Rembrandt was vain? And as for Egon Schiele ……!

Another illustration I liked was that of a life drawing done with about 300 marks at a rate of about one a second, just looking at the model. You should be able to read the information on the scan.



About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website johnpindararts.weebly.com
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7 Responses to ‘Experimental Drawing’ By Robert Kaupelis

  1. I wish I was able to participate.

  2. Your drawing is wonderful! It creates a completely different character than a straight self portrait would.

  3. Y. Prior says:

    never heard of using a distorted gird like that – very interesting. 🙂 and I like your drawing.

  4. starrybird says:

    That’s really interesting; I have heard the book recommended but thought it was out of print. Hope you enjoy the gelli printing as much as I do. It’s a great way to build up monoprint layers. I buy so much gelatine that my supermarket thinks I’m making industrial jellies – kinda true.

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