Dam promises

I mistakenly said I’d post the latest study I’d been working on. I say mistakenly because it hasn’t worked out. Normally I would take the lessons learned and move on to the next page of my sketchbook. However, since I said I’d post it here I’m stuck.

I feel like a little baby, just learning how to walk and deciding to grab a pogo stick and leap the neighbour’s fence on it. That’s one of the things this study has shown me. Another is that if you rush, which I didn’t feel like I was doing at the time, you will lose your way.

Drawing is all about seeing. I’m almost getting sick of hearing myself say that. It is though, and one of the things I am finding interesting is that I can see so much clearer when some time has passed. After just finishing something I can’t see the errors that I can see later in the week. I don’t think that I see clearer days later. I am wondering if there is something else going on. Am I unable to see the errors because I am too wrapped up in the idea of what I’ve done? Another way of saying this is, am I wrapped up in the result instead of the process? The process of seeing is very present. You look back and forth between the original and your drawing trying to see differences. I find that I can see these differences with less trouble when I look at a photo on my computer. I know that there is detachment from the image while looking at the screen. So, I am thinking that there is an emotional component to my inability to see just after finishing, or maybe even during (I’ll have to watch for that).

This image comes from an amazing book called, “Classical Drawing Atelier” by Juliette Aristides. This is an amazing book. I am not even finished reading it and find myself telling everyone about it. If you don’t have it, you must purchase it. Juliette talks about the process that ateliers use to train students. The photos of various students and professionals are super helpful. I really like that she has a full spectrum of image contributors. She could clearly have just put her own work in the book (which is awesome), but she chose to put in many works by great contemporary and classical artists. She also had a really nice explanation of the golden ratio and how da Vinci used it in his painting, “The Annunciation.” Her understanding of art is deep and very refreshing and inspiring.

This image is in three stages: block in where you set the overall proportion and likeness, position the shadow shapes and indicate the background to create context for the head, and carefully turn the form between the light shapes and the shadow areas.

Instead of using a grid of any kind, this time I drew in the horizontal lines to define the vertical space and added a vertical line from which to work horizontally with. In her book she refers to this as relationship measuring. This is where you measure your line, or point, in relationship to another line or point.

Classical drawing atelier - lesson five - portrait drawing

Classical drawing atelier - lesson five - portrait drawing - stage 1

I was happy with this process because I was able to more accurately find points. I would choose a point and then mark it on my sketch. Then I would pull out the ruler and check it. For many points I was within one millimeter horizontally. Often though, my vertical was off. The fact that I had many points so close is the feedback I think I need. It tells me that I am improving, if only a little. I think this stage is almost the most important because it sets up everything that follows. Mistakes here will translate and grow exponentially in the following stages. This was a very  important lesson from this study.

In the book the next photo is partially shaded already. For me, the blocking in of the shading was a first. I hadn’t tried this before and found it quite interesting to do. My previous post already had the shading blocked off for me. Again, this is one of the reasons I think I tried to leap the neighbour’s fence. They call them baby steps for a reason.

Lesson five - portrait drawing - stage 1.5

Lesson five - portrait drawing - stage 1.5

Another interesting difference is that the stage one photo was a close-up compared to the stage two and three photos. This made it more challenging also because now I had to shift to what Juliette calls “comparative measuring” where you are using proportions to determine accuracy.

Lesson five - portrait drawing - stage 2ish

Lesson five - portrait drawing - stage 2ish

I just realized that my stage 2 photo has the image from stage 3 beside my drawing. That makes the comparison difficult. I can honestly say that my image isn’t the same as hers. This will be more evident with my stage 3 drawing (this is the moment I’ve been dreading).

Lesson five - portrait drawing - stage 3

Lesson five - portrait drawing - stage 3

Again, I am only posting this because I said I would. I am really unhappy with this study. Almost all of it is wrong. Like I said though, I learned many things during this one. The most important is to not take too large a step at once. There is a reason why there are steps in the first place, otherwise it would simply be a sheer rock wall – straight up (grab your rock-climbing shoes and get moving). I am going back to my Bargue plates. I found a good copy of plate one on google today and printed it.

Once the tears dry from my pogo stick I shall return to the sketchbook (shouldn’t take long now since I have the heater at my feet while I watch the unbelievable snow falling in April – weird).

peace,
harold

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