Robert D'Arista, Monotype

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sketchbooks: Various Artists

"The sketch hunter moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook." -Robert Henri
"I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen..."  -Frederick Franck

"It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character."  -Camille Pissarro

"Let whoever may have attained to so much as to have the power of drawing know that he holds a great treasure."  -Michelangelo

The sketchbook is an important adjunct to drawing in the studio from the live model. Outside of the structured problems of a studio class, the informality and modest scale of the sketchbook allows you to follow your own fascinations in making images, to practice and absorb drawing concepts and techniques from class, and to redress any gaps that you perceive in your grasp of certain aspects of the figure. Are you missing something about the structure of the knee? You're in good company. Check out Van Gogh's studies of the knee in his sketchbook.

To attempt to draw living, moving figures from life is to enter a mindset that is all but lost in today's digitized visual culture, when most of us feel ourselves too pressed to take the time to do a drawing. To stop, and look, and draw, is the finest act of defiance!  A saying that has been attributed to everyone from Degas to Leonardo da Vinci states that an artist should be able to draw a man falling from a three story building before he hits the ground! Think of that the next time you feel seduced by the notion that living figures move too quickly to draw them effectively without the aid of a camera, or the long pose of  a model. Such is the basic nature of the sketch - an abbreviated moment, a modest little piece of life being lived, saved from oblivion by the motion of the pencil or the brush on paper. And the sketchbook is its repository.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Week 3: Brush & Ink Wash Drawings

Brush and ink wash drawings from Caravaggio in the 16th century, to David Park in the 20th.



Van Dyck


Auguste Rodin

Elmer Bischoff

David Park

David Park


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sketchbooks: David Hockney

David Hockney, an avid draughtsman and one of Britain's leading artists,  discusses why a brush captures reality better than a camera in this interview with Andrew Marr of The Guardian:

    "David Hockney laughs, pulls open a wooden drawer and rummages through scores of identical small black books. He pulls one out, checks the first page for a date, and throws it over. It turns out to be the visual record of a few recent days in London - small, fast sketches recording his journey on the top deck of a number nine bus, then visits to exhibitions, a record of a funeral service at the Brompton Oratory, a couple of hours with the plaster casts in the V&A, a restaurant meal with friends, Hyde Park corner and an Evening Standard headline reflected in a silver bowl he'd just bought. Each one is done with a nylon Japanese watercolour brush..." 
    Images from Hockney's sketchbooks

Friday, January 21, 2011

Antony Van Dyck, 1599-1641

Sir Anthony van Dyck, a student of Rubens, was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England.      -Wikipedia


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele was born in Austria in 1890. He died in 1918, at 28 years of age. A pupil of Gustave Klimt, Schiele lived and worked at a time when both Art Nouveau and Modernism were strongly influencing art in Austria.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Katy Murray

Katy Murray was a Washington, DC artist whom I met and became friends with while I was a graduate student at American University. I admired her loose, gestural way of constructing the figure, the way she worked her way across the whole figure in the first few seconds, laying down the tracks of her eyes' movement to which she would  repeatedly returnto refine or revise. We worked out a trade of our artwork. I went to her studio one afternoon with my work in hand.  She had several stacks of drawings, each one about a foot high, which represents many hundreds of drawings that she had executed over several years. Sadly, Katy died a few years ago after  battling cancer. This is just a small part of what she dis as an artist, but it was an integral part of her practice to draw weekly from the model.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sketchbooks: Edgar Degas

In 1877 Edgar Degas attended weekly soirées at the home of his friend Ludovic Halévy, a writer of opera librettos and popular romances. At these gatherings, Degas drew portraits of his friends and made studies for his own work. He quickly filled this sketchbook with drawings that show his preoccupation with a variety of theatrical themes, including the café-concert and the ballet. When he completed the sketchbook, Degas presented it to his friend, who shared his passion for theater and music. Halévy later added inscriptions to many of the pages--a useful addition for scholars, as they distinguish Degas's contributions from those by other friends who occasionally drew in the book. Halévy inscribed the date 1877 and the words Croquis de Degas (Degas's Sketchbook) on the book's cover.

During his lifetime, Degas filled thirty-eight sketchbooks, using them for a variety of purposes: recording the appearance of a work of art he admired or a person he observed, visualizing a fictional scene he had read, or experimenting with a new idea. For scholars, this important collection of reliably dated documents provides first-hand information on aspects of his working methods.

Souces: The Getty Museum

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jerome Witkin

An interview with narrative figure painter Jerome Witkin, from the blog Painting Perceptions.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"To the Nude," by Rafael Alberti

To you, skeleton embellished,
full rose garlanding its trellis;
bone clothes: set in relief, newly
whitewashed light, a solid lily.

To you, swift, loose hair a flash,
lightning foreshorten'd, sea-dash;
tranquil enchantment, goddess at rest,
palpable dream of a Form expressed.

To you, contemplation, play, and pleasure,
delight's malleable treasure,
beautifully covered, tram-wound loom.

The brush's glory is to mold you,
and in clothing, to unclothe you.
To you, Painting's Venus in full bloom.

                                                   Edgar Degas

New Course Blog

Welcome to Embellished Skeleton, a new blog  for my students in Figure Drawing at Ohio Wesleyan University, and for anyone interested in the challenges of drawing the human figure.

The blog's title is taken from the poem, "To the Nude," by Rafael Alberti:

"To you, skeleton embellished,
full rose garlanding its trellis;
bone clothes: set in relief, newly
whitewashed light, a solid lily..."