this week. Now that I m fully recovered I ve been hitting the card tables and the drawing board with a vengeance. I ve done 2 life drawing sessions and 2 sessions at the altes museum as well to practice my hand at the portraits using the roman busts as models. They sat still and didnt really mind the attention from what I could tell. Guess they are used to it.
First up is this roman lady and its the second of the 2 studies I did. Theres a lot I like about it and am overall pleased as progress is being made but I m still having problems with some structural aspects. You just can t fake it when it comes to these busts as mistakes are so glaring but its good as once I get it sorted the rest of my drawings will be greatly strengthened imo. Or at least thats what I hope.
This is the first portrait of the week. I was doing some experimenting with an idea so its not as clean as I d like. I toned the paper with some charcoal and planned to do the darker tones with graphite and put in the lighter tones with my kneaded eraser and use some white pastel or charcoal if I wanted them lighter. Didnt quite turn out how I had imagined but I got some ideas to improve the results.
These are last weeks session. I got a new roll of cheap paper for the drawing sessions and I m digging it quite a bit. Its some recycled stuff that has a nice grey midtone and takes charcoal quite well imo.
These photos show the actual color of the paper better. I have a lot of fun with the charcoal as you can really get in there with it and get dirty. Sometimes it really feels like your sculpting the form out of the paper as the charcoal is so malleable. Sometimes its kinda random though and hard to control but sometimes you happen upon some far out effect.
But I m back and ready to pump out some more drawing action. I havent been completely out of action so I do have some new work to show but didnt hit the life drawing as I felt it was pretty rude to go while fairly sick with a cold. I have hit the museum a couple times though and got some work from there to show. I also discovered that a church close to the museums here is a museum itself where they showcase a bunch of 18-19th century sculpture. Its pretty awesome for the drawing as the works are nicely lit up by the natural light. Its still not as awesome as having the work in your own studio with optimal lighting but what ya going to do? I m def never going to have a whole hall of life size marble works in my studio either.
First up is a bargue that I ve completed lately. This one was tough and its not as spot on as the last one I did but I learnt a lot. A big lesson here was learning how to manipulate your edges between different degrees of hard and soft. I let my soft edges get hard on the right side of the tone and I really paid the price as it took a lot of effort in order to get them reasonable again.
This is a torso from a hellenistic hero or leader from the altes museum here in berlin. Its the 2nd study I ve done of this sculpture as its pretty far out and lit fairly well imo. I did this over 3 sessions so about 6-7 hrs. Its the first time Ive done a study from life this long and I m happy with the result.
This is from a bust at the church I was talking about earlier. I spent about 2.5hrs on this one and I am pleased. Obv wasnt able to get it very detailed but I did try to get the most important details in a least. I really struggle with portrait type drawings as they are supremely unforgiving and theres loads of pre installed symbols in our minds that get in the way of seeing whats there. I think this is a reasonable start for getting better at these though and I m going to go back to the museums and do more of these drawings of busts.
And to end we got a selection of life drawings from a couple weeks ago. Been working with charcoal again some and I sadly threw my chalk on the ground and it broke into 4 pieces. I went to the store and got a pastel pencil to replace it though so I don t need to smash the whole thing when I drop it next time. I m going to do more work with charcoal pencil as well i think as I like the dark definition of charcoal but the vine stuff is too loose and difficult to control to keep the drawing nice and tight in a 15 min time span.
Went to both life drawing sessions with week and got some interesting results. The monday session was some actor from australia. I ve seen him before and he s a good model who makes an effort to make dynamic and interesting poses. Last nights session was I think a english girl who kinda lacked a bit of life in her poses but the drawings still turned out interesting. I find the bargue studies are effecting my life drawing in strange ways. I feel less able to just “let go” and draw as I go about it in such a analytical way. On the other hand I m focusing more and getting the proportions down well and trying to capture the nuances of their body. Eventually my eyes will be well trained and I can eye out the angles and proportions easily and I ll be able to draw more freely and naturally and the drawings will be more powerful as I ll be able to implement both sides of the equation at the same time.
I think this is one of my strongest in a while. Dudes are hard to draw I find as their form isnt as nice and curvy. I like the feeling of energy that is conveyed in this pose.
I don t know if its noticeable but I approached this one from a different angle. I drew in the highlights first then filled in the darks which is opposite of how I do it normally.
As you ve probably noticed this girl loved lying down poses. I took a lot of time trying to make sure her legs where in proportion(I love to give people long legs when they lie down) and getting details like her knees.
I managed to bang out the 2nd heel from the bargue plate. I used the lessons I learnt from the last one and did it with record accuracy, time and also managed not to get overly frustrated with any part of it. Guess I m getting better at this which is good cause the drawings will be getting more complex although I m not in a huge hurry to get to the really hard ones as I d like to hone my technique on the easier ones still. I think generally the course is well paced so shouldnt be a problem.
I basically didnt do a ton of measuring and relied more on the relation of the angles to each other to get the accuracy. As long as your paying attention and being careful things should look off enough that you ll notice a difference if its more then 1mm out of line. It also is way less tedious and easier on the head which saves energy for when your trying to fine tune the drawing to bring it to a full finish.
Just finished another drawing from the “Course de Dessin” by Charles Bargue today. Pretty exciting as its clearly another improvement from the last one however I still got some work to do to fully nail one of these beasts esp when you consider how crazy complex they get farther in the course.
I still need to fully analyse it. They recommend taking some tracing paper and tracing the original to see how close you got with your reproduction. I really had a hell of a time with the bottom left section on where the heel, shadows and the block its on intersect. After some thinking and reading more about what to do I ve realized I m not paying attention to the angles of the lines. Hard to explain but I think I learnt something fundamental and important doing this drawing. Another thing that was hard to judge was how dark to go with the darkest tones. The paper is white but the bargue is on a bit of a tones surface so you can t go quite as dark with the reproduction. Overall its a success but still a lot of work to do.
Got some sad new s this week. I got beaten by the bargue leg and had to put it down for the moment. As I was working through it more I was just noticing soooooo many not so subtle errors. In the photos it looks ok but those are forgiving for sure. It just got to the point where trying for a accurate copy was not feasible anymore and where you learn from the exercise is by pushing your visual capabilities to the max and getting it super accurate. It basically was just tilting the hell out of me and the exercise was becoming big time diminishing returns.
However LOTs was learned and thats what matters! I developed some technique for getting a really fine texture with the graphite as well as realizing where my weaknesses are and why Im not managing to conquer these drawings. I m basically not nailing the first few steps of the procedure where supreme care and accuracy is called for or else you suffer for another 40 hrs trying to work with a poorly executed blockin and plan. So I ve returned to the basics and have started working on the exercises at the beginning of the book where they step you through the procedure.
This is the first drawing I ve completed since returning to the beginning of the book. If you look closely you can see some definite inaccuracies esp on the right one but I m working on nailing the blockin so I can pull off a accurate copy soon.
I also went to the Altes museum this week to draw from the sculptures they have kicking around. They opened the lower level that was closed for whatever reason so I went to check it out. The whole level is about ancient greece and the sculptures they produced. Its unreal what they did over 2000 yrs ago. I found a torso of a Hellenistic hero and drew it for about 1-1 1/2 hrs.
By far the best of the 2 museum drawings I ve done. I do wanna do a 20hr+ study of one over a few days and really get something far out together. This is pretty cool but its clearly rushed and not fully finished.
And finally again some life drawing. Standard 10-15 min poses. This time I used these graphite pencils I have kicking around that are all graphite and no wood. They act somewhat like charcoal and goes down quickly which is obv nice for the short poses. I also got a harder stick of white chalk and its soo much better as I have a easier time putting in the light layer of it that I want. Its easy to overpower the drawing with white.
I enjoy these ones. I think they have a better sense of volume then earlier ones.
2 posts worth of completed drawing didnt happen this week so I m going to post up a little collection of what was done. First up is mondays life drawings. I used graphite for the first time in forever at as well as some different paper I had kicking around. The combination of different medium and being a bit not totally in my A game resulted in some weaker drawings but they are still kinda interesting. What I m happy about is if I compare them to a weaker night of drawing a few weeks ago they are much stronger so this means that my C game drawing is getting better. This is important as the stronger your C game gets the easier it is to get your A game stronger. One of the many lessons I ve learnt playing poker.
Next is a drawing of my fist. I did a couple quick sketches of my hand due to some inspiration from my good friends Dave and Jen after a international skype party we had the other day. Its just a quick 20 min study or so but I like it.
Last is the my current progress with that bargue drawing. Friggin thing is busting my head but I m working through it. I m learning lots of interesting things like working out how to see the shapes of the shadow areas and getting the fine edge control. Its just so tedious some times as to get the nicest texture of tones you need to use a super super sharp pencil and go sloooowwwwwly. One day it ll be done and I m learning a lot in the process and thats what its all about. Finishing work just means you have something new for the wall.