Arts and Entertainment

A sketch is worth a thousand words

 - Courtesy art
— image credit: Courtesy art

The human figure has been alluring to the artist’s eye for centuries.

Picasso abstracted it. Van Gogh evoked its melancholy and labor. Da Vinci studied it intensely both in portrait and in movement as well as in sentiment and science.

Port Orchard artist Gregg Scott subtly does some of the same in the works that comprise his show “People on Paper,” which hangs through May 31 in the front room gallery of the Custom Framing shop in downtown Port Orchard. A reception is slated for 4 p.m. May 9.

Of course, the aforementioned archaic painters worked in oils and acrylics while Scott works in mostly stark charcoal. Still, some of the masterpieces that are so highly admired and revered today evolved from sketched studies on the human form like the ones in this show.

It is Scott’s studies that make up “People on Paper” at Custom Framing.

A graphic designer by trade, living with his wife and two kids in Port Orchard, he sits in on figure drawing classes with live models around Seattle, and sometimes in Kitsap, as a hobby. Sometimes, he anonymously draws random people that he sees on the street.

“A lot of these I’d just take home and sit in a drawer somewhere,” Scott said of the pieces on the wall.

That is until some of his friends and fellow artists suggested that he put them out for show.

“What makes figure drawing so hard is that everybody knows what people look like,” Scott noted.

So, if the artist makes even the most minor of mistake, Scott said, it can come out looking not quite right to the viewer’s eye. Perhaps that’s why his sketches have been in the drawer for so long, and perhaps that’s also what so enraptured the artists of yesteryear.

Da Vinci studied it right down to the science of it, employing extra skinny models to better examine the human muscle composition, which was the only way, he said, one could ever really get it right.

“Mostly I’m just struggling to get it right,” Scott said of his method. “Most of them are about 20-minute pieces ... it’s kind of like photojournalism in a way, especially when you’re trying to catch people on the street.”

Scott’s approach is multifaceted.

While he’s been the type to sketch and draw for most all his life, he went to college with the original intent of actually becoming a journalist. During his study, he’d taken a few drawing and figure drawing courses on the side, “not even thinking that I would go that way, I just thought they would be easy classes,” he noted.

The classes ended up not being so easy, and Scott also ended up excelling.

Midway through the year, his professors — including the head of the design department — convinced him that the art route might be the way to go. He listened, and it led to a career in graphic design, getting paid for things like illustrating children’s books and crafting local business logos.

In fact, he designed the logo for Custom Framing. You can see his commercial art on the sign outside the building, and on the inside, you’ll find his quick-handed, emotive people in the motion-laden free time sketches.

“I kind of like it when there’s that sense of urgency,” Scott said, looking at his framed drawings on the wall. “But it’s kind of volatile. You can’t erase, I don’t even try to erase ... .”

When looking at the show, I can’t help but feel an array of different emotions from the expression of each face in each piece. For example, the face piece of the show (which was the image on the flyer) is a fairly distinctive profile sketch of an old woman sitting looking straight ahead — you can feel the boredom in her face and posture.

You can feel the sexiness in another sketch of a seductive-looking woman with her dark hair pulled up, who’s in the beginning stage of pulling her dress off of her body.

Then, there’s the classic scene of a woman deep in thought, sitting alone with a cup of coffee, a portrait the masters have been drawing for centuries. WU

Gregg Scott’s exhibit of figure drawings called “People on Paper” will hang in the front room gallery of the Custom Framing Shop, 839 Bay St. in Port Orchard. An artist’s reception is slated for 4-6 p.m. May 9. Next month Custom Framing, which just this year started featuring artists, will host the whimsical work of an old Alaskan lady named Ree Munoz.

Info: Call Custom Framing at (360) 876-1031.

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