a finger in many pies

moth on june 25

Even as work proceeds on “the Big Painting,” I still have other projects that need attention.  One is this partly completed 30 x 40 inch painting of a moth.  I am at a crossroads of sorts with it and must decide which direction it will go.  And I must decide fairly quickly as I have plans for it — plans that have a deadline attached.

But the lovely thing is that every activity helps with all the others.  Making drawings after sculpture at the National Gallery sharpens my drawing skills for my other work.  And the Big Painting and this picture of the moth have more relationships to each other than might ever be apparent to an outside observer.  So it all works together.


drawing with friends

drawing 6 alphonse legros

I went to the National Gallery of Art today to draw in the sculpture galleries with my friend.  The drawing above is from  Aimé-Jules Dalou’s portrait of Alphonse Legros.  I’ve drawn it before.   And I drew it twice more today.  The drawing above is today’s second drawing.  Below is the first, which was also a sort of “warm up” drawing.

drawing 5 alphonse legros

The first drawing measures 12 inches in length in the longest area; the second measures 11 inches, but the man’s features are larger in the warm up because the format is tightly cropped in a notebook.  Both are drawn using Caran d’Ache Neopastel crayons, using just three colors.

After doing these two largish drawings I turned to a smaller notebook to draw two of Rodin’s face studies of Honoré Balzac, both of which are amazing sculptural works and comparatively difficult to draw for their exaggerations and foreshortening.

I started first with a pencil drawing made very freely.  I let myself get acquainted with things when I draw and some drawings are ways of talking to myself about what I’m seeing.

drawing 4 balzac

For the other drawings I made of the Balzac, I used a wonderfully expressive Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencil.

drawing 1 balzac

In each drawing I feel like I am learning something about Rodin’s visual ideas and his feelings about the man he was portraying.  He portrays Balzac as a powerful and mysterious figure. It tells something about the power of great art that Rodin’s forms create these inferences about Balzac’s personality in ways that photography of the man clearly does not. In contrast with the writer’s rather ordinary appearance, Rodin creates a Protean figure while preserving elements of likeness.

drawing 2 balzac

The forms are so exaggerated that it’s difficult to get them right.  But I will draw these sculptures again because I want to learn these things.

drawing 3 balzac

I realize too that I have to allow myself my own reactions — that I am reacting to Rodin, and I am reacting to my reactions to Rodin, and I am translating the three dimensional images into 2 dimensional ones, and striving to be sensitive to the qualities of the particular materials that I’m using whether it’s the Neopastels or pencil or pastel pencil.

The drawing that made of Dalou’s Alphonse Legros appears in an earlier post:


Here’s today’s Legros and that earlier one together:

Of course the wonderful thing about sculpture is that you can walk around it and draw from different vantage points.


A link to the NGA feature on the sculpture can be found at that post.  And a link to NGA’s two Rodin faces of Balzac is here:


and here:




drawing without friends

after brocade in Cezanne portrait of Hortense Met

I was supposed to be drawing with friends Sunday, but I misplaced them.  My drawing group was meeting at one of the other museums on the mall and I had planned to join them.  But I could find nowhere to park until too late, and that parking space was quite far away.

However, I did draw at the National Gallery of Art, making some drawings after Cezanne. Above I drew one section of the curtain in the Met’s painting of Hortense, the artist’s wife. You can find the section of a fruit with leaves on the lower right below.


I also drew some faces from two other paintings.

after Cezanne Hortense

Both of these are portraits of Hortense.

after Cezanne

Love drawing Cezanne.  Sorry I missed seeing the friends.  But glad that I did get to make drawings after Cezanne’s beautiful paintings anyway.