Last couple days I’ve sent myself back to school, making drawings after various old masters (mostly Ingres, as in this case). I suppose this might be viewed as the “artist’s vacation.” A few days spent leisurely drawing, a change of pace, a change of media, a change of subject matter. As with some of the other drawings I’ve posted lately, this drawing is one I did with my left hand. Using my left hand slows me down. I cannot possibly draw fast, and I feel as if I notice more. Whether I actually do or not, I can’t judge. But even the sensation that time is passing more slowly is delightful.
Of course, one copies an old master to learn. So this “slowing down” is also time spent with the artist being studied. Looking so intently at Ingres’s painting (as reproduced in a book), I find myself marvelling at the extraordinary richness of Ingres’s world. The way he sees even just the woman’s hair, for instance, is just amazing. He has turned her curls into the most intriguing structures which he reproduces with a great and loving sensitivity.
In making a copy, you experience the painting you study so much more deeply. And it is as though the master tells you, “oh, look at this!” and “what about that!” and thus you have a silent conversation in the pure language of images.
Okay, I suppose it’s possible to do a kind of quick drawing with one’s left hand (talking to right-handed artists here). And I did do this next drawing in a fairly short time, in a sketchy way (though most my left hand drawings look a little sketchy no matter how carefully I make them).
I made this first left hand drawing of the Ingres woman in a rather quick, summary way. It’s a “getting acquainted” kind of sketch. Then I did the longer drawing at the top of the post.
The two drawings have a slightly different character and mood. And thus one can make many versions of a single subject, even when copying.