Thursday, July 16, 2009

A bit of drawing

The last part of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain emphasized drawing lots of portraits, both from live models and by copying those of the masters. I've been itching to do the latter, knowing I need to practice practice practice. I've been reading about Pablo Picasso where I ran across "The Absinthe Drinker" from his Blue Period, a painting I found very compelling and wanted to try copying. I started late last night, setting up my grid in my sketchbook and taping the transparency grid over the picture in the book. I'm sure there were more important things I should have been doing today, but I found myself picking this up again - just for a few moments, I told myself. I got so thoroughly engrossed in the process that several hours passed before I knew it.

Logic would dictate that copying a painting at the same size as the original would be easier than smaller or larger. To my puzzlement, it is not. The nose in particular gave me fits, and it still needs some work I think. I've lightly penciled around areas where the dark values shade lighter. I foresee this next step of subtle shading to be quite challenging - I'm still learning how the different hardnesses of pencils react and how to smudge and lightly erase. And I can't use the crutch of changing colors to shade like I might with fabric.

Already I'm seeing the value of this copying practice. In the process, one really looks at the details, sees subtle shapes and connections that a general viewing misses. It is also said that one can get a bit into the head of the artist doing this, understand the style better, and I'm experiencing that too. The eye in particular has been a revelation.

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