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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

M.C. Escher Blows Your Mind

Whoever admires drawing admires M.C. Escher. A brilliant draftsman. A superb craftsmen in the graphic arts. A mathemetician. An awesome artist of the highest callibre. He had a full command of drawing; and his extrodinary prints grab the viewer's attention on first sight and mesmerize.

The couple of years Escher spent studying architecture as a young man is very apparent in all his work. Escher excelled in perspective drawing and his mastery in constructing the illusion of deep space is seen is all his works. His instructors, however, thought this genius would be better off studying the decorative arts, rather than architecture; and Escher switched his major. His dad was disappointed.

The graphic arts--woodcut, lithography, mezzotints,etc.,was and is considered decorative art: the more prints you could make, the more prints, albeit product, you could sell and the more fans you could have decorating the walls of their homes with your work. Printmaking is an art, but it's also a practical business. Escher's dad wanted him to be a success in business.

I would imagine Escher made a very fine living. He was a master craftsman in the graphic arts, particularly woodcuts. Many of his works exploring three dimensional space on the two dimensional plane and the interplay of positive and negative space are done in that medium, and they all began with a well thought out drawing--or two.

"A woodcut is a relief print made by cutting into the end grain of a wood block with sharp knives, gouges, and other engraving tools and [then] printed from the surface of the block",(The Art of The Print by Fritz Eichenberg). In other words,only what remains on the surface of the block takes the ink and prints. My woodcut of Stallone was done using a block of white oak,(and is responsible for my artritic thumb).

Perspective drawings are mathematical, have scale and vanishing points and are illusions of three dimensional space on a two dimensional plane. My sketch is an example of a simple perspective drawing where the squares on the surface of the paper recede back into the distance. Perspective drawings have length, width and the illusion of depth.

If you've been vacationing on another planet and haven't seen the works of M.C.Escher, you've missed one of the great draftsmen of the art world. Check him out, his work cuts you down to size.

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