As previous posts explain, I have been doing left-handed drawings after Ingres. It’s become an unofficial Ingres Day around here. And it’s not even his birthday. (That’s August 29th.) This drawing is taken from a very un-Ingreist portrait, the Young Man with an Earring, 1804 of the Musee Ingres, Montauban. The young man looks rough and rude, and Ingres’s treatment is dark and smudgy, not the superlinearity that we customarily expect.
And my version is … well … my version. Some details below.
I can’t help it. I love close-ups.
The shading all runs the “other” direction because this is my left-hand’s shading.
My daughter asked me today if I could have a meeting of my favorite artists in heaven, who would I invite?
Hmm. Had to think a moment. Ingres, of course. Rubens, Durer (my candidates for three of the greatest draughtsmen of history). Would have to include Degas. I cut my teeth on Degas, and he’s a great admirer of Ingres and even met Ingres. Since I invited Rubens, how can I not invite Rembrandt? Duh. And I thought I should invite Hokusai, too (the old man mad about drawing) even if he’d have the most difficult time conversing with the others, being Japanese. Van Gogh. And last but not least, Winslow Homer.
Homer made lots of drawings, but is not known very much for “finished drawings,” having given up anything remotely like that when he stopped being an illustrator. But I’ll take even a scribble by Homer any day.
I figured that English, French and Latin connections would be enough to allow most everyone to talk to most everyone else (with others doing a bit of translation). And Hokusai, all he’d have to do is start drawing and everyone would stop talking and just do some jaw dropping and watch, before picking up their own drawing tools.
With this lovely question for inspiration, I have been drawing today with my left hand again, which I do for amusement and freedom. Decided to make some drawings after our heavenly hero Ingres, taking images from my copy of the book Ingres by George Vigne. (And no, I didn’t pay the price they’re asking for the book now.) My copy is made from the Head of Boileau, 1827 (Musee Ingres, Montauban). You can see Boileau in the completed Apotheosis of Homer here (he appears in the lower right corner of this detail).
So, we won’t all be playing harps, I think, when the role is called up yonder. Some of us, I wager, will be drawing!
I was telling a friend of mine last week, as we strolled through the National Gallery of Art, how much I missed my old friend Titian. His painting Venus Blindfolding Cupid has been taken off regular view ever since somebody decided that it’s not a real Titian. The theme is ironic. Love, blind. Well, I’d say that some of the Italian curators are have a little vision problem too. It’s such an incredibly beautiful painting. Interesting to compare with its counterpart in Italy. (The image exists in a different version across the pond, probably one reason that the authenticity of the NGA picture is doubted.)
Alas. Well, thinking about it got me in motion. I went digging around looking for a reproduction of the image so I could look at it. And I made the quick drawing above. Became quite captivated by the face — which is more ordered than the face of the Italian picture. Quite possibly the NGA version might be painted by another artist — I’m not saying it’s not. But it’s such a beautiful painting. Can’t it be enjoyed simply for what it is? For its own loveliness?
My kid wanted a drawing lesson today so I suggested she do what the old masters did when they were pups: copy. Asked what she wanted to copy, she said she wanted to draw “an old renaissance picture with people in fancy clothes.” So I gave her a catalog from the Met, and she ended up choosing Ingres’s fabulous portrait of the Princesse de Broglie.
She had some questions afterwards about aspects of her drawing so to answer them I made a super-fast “copy” of my own, the above. I’m glad I can teach my kid to draw because drawing becomes one more tool a person uses for thinking about things. Whether one becomes an artist or not is irrelevant. When you know how to draw, you see things in a new way. Moreover, drawing is a useful skill. You can design all manner of things once you know how to imitate the image you hold in your mind.
Only once did a teacher show me something in art by making a drawing of it herself. That was my high school art teacher Karol Thompson. In college and ever after, every question one asked was answered with talk.
I have the utmost respect for anyone who will answer a question by picking up the pencil and “telling” in lines and shades. My daughter’s question was very focused and my answer — my loopy answer — was equally quick and free. And that’s the way I like it.