Monday, January 28, 2013

Not Quite There.

Pencil Copy of JS Sargent's charcoal drawing of
Edward Augustus Silsbee, 1899 
I'm not quite back to the studio, but I'm back. I tried copying another JS Sargent drawing. Again, I used a number six pencil. I gave myself an hour. This head was more complex. All that hair made seeing the shape of his scull difficult.  I persevered. Whatever drawing is done in a day is advantageous to personal growth.  

I'm not so sure copying a master is a great thing to do, but it sure does tune you in to what they did in those vague areas, the ones that are indistinct and fade into the background. It would be interesting to copy a painting. If it didn't kill you, it would make you stronger. 

I spent a little time online too today exploring the Portrait Society of America. I was thinking of membership, but discovered I wasn't ready. While I'm sure my dues would be appreciated, I want my skills to  be closer to those of the other members.  

The winning portraits in their last membership show were much more developed than anything I've done so far. What caught my attention was that few of the winning portraits were head and shoulder  or three quarter figurative poses, they were people involved in something or with some others.  That observation sent me to my reference photos to see if I had any photos that would work. I found a couple,  but most singled out the subject. I'll have to make a photographic change. It's time to start JD, he came close and I did find a usable photo of Ellis. It's also time to take a formal portraiture class. Where is Spring? I'm in a hurry.


14 comments:

  1. Nice work, Linda - and it think is invaluable to copy the masters whether in pencil or in paint. It makes you think like they think - or at least makes you think you are thinking like they were thinking! In my portrait drawing class the instructor keeps encouraging me to draw the portrait to include the hands while I want to concentrate on the face. So much to learn!

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    1. There aren't any hands in the book I have of Sargent's charcoals--heads and shoulders. In JD, his hands are the important part of the painting. I'm not concerned. I once spent a great deal of time sculpting my handing and them casting them first in plaster. From that mould, I made paper casts. I drew my hands a lot before starting that project-- those phalanges are just a string of little sausages :-))

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  2. I agree with Susan's comment about copying the masters. There is so much to gain from the exercise. Portrait work is very demanding and it is a case of honing a personal style or be prepared to devote all of one's efforts to developing the classical skills taught by the current crop of portraitists who seem intent upon making photorealistic images.

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    1. While I strongly lean towards gestural portraiture, I do think I must take a formal portraiture class. My gestural efforts will be stronger with the discipline that formal portraiture demands. Copying the masters is a great way to spend a day of every week , or every month? On Mondays,there is painting in the galleries in our museum. Norman Rockwell studied the masters a lot. Several of his paintings have copies of the masters paintings in the them. Very clever.

      I dislike photorealism. I do like photography. Photography is an art. Why kill yourself painting a photographic copy of a photograph? That remark could spark some indignant comments.

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  3. Great copy. Interesting what you say about the portraits - I am going to go look. Thanks! Glad you are doing better so quickly.

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    1. What did I say about the portraits? Of the Society? I thought the winning paintings were unique in that they were formally done informal portraits. No gestural brushwork.

      My bounce back was a bit slow if you ask me, but I am glad to be back to the same old same old.

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    2. That they were people involved in something.

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  4. Nice drawing, LW...and I am glad you are solidly on the mend. I see in the comments you don't care for photorealism. I feel the same. I like a painting to look like a painting. But I am aware that there are as many different ideas for what is good or bad as there are people! Luckily, it seems, there is room in the world for all of it. I love copying the masters---it is great fun.

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    1. There is no definitive in art. All of it is valid--to someone. :-)).

      Thanks. This one is tough. Especially when your hand is heavy and you still haven't gotten your eraser templates out of the traveling art kit. It's also done with a considerably softer medium than a #6 Berol. Each medium presents itself differently. But with only pencil in hand and only an hour to kill, you do what you can. It does have likeness.

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  5. Have to agree re photorealism....seems pointless to me. I am so impressed with your drawings, you have me thinking I should practice more. When you say 'pencil' is it graphite? charcoal? carbon?

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    1. Graphite. #6 is the softest, has the least amount of clay in it.

      Actually as impressive as photorealistic paintings look, they strike me as heartless. There's no doubt in my mind that art to me is the emotional reaction of the artist towards her subject. I have also always had, and can't seem to shake, the opinion that style is an expressionistic tool. Some subjects provoke a traditional response, some an abstract. In portraiture, there's only the likeness to deal with and I prefer to capture it via the gesture, a mix of tradition and abstraction. People are forever changing. Each is a multitude of characters. To nail them down into one, is unrealistic. Gestural portraiture portrays that constant motion that's going on internally and externally.

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  6. I love the sketch and I think if you learn things from it, then it has a purpose.
    I personally don't get any kick from photorealism. Pure skill is boring to me. I want to see skill and personality.

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    1. Me too. Now that we can go to the market and buy bison and avoid hunting in the wilds, I think art serves however we want it to serve--personal expression, decorative, political statements, commemorative, whatever. Skill is certainly admirable, but you can get too slick. Every time I see one of those paintings, I think projector. That's the one tool, I find offensive.

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