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 with friends

Rodin at NGA (2)

Today at the National Gallery of Art, drawing with my friend, I made this drawing after a Rodin marble sculpture.  Drawing faces helps get me ready for an upcoming project and it offers also a pleasant form of separation from my current painting. After drawing faces I come back to the frog teapot and other objects with a fresh eye.

I took a picture of the sculpture with my low resolution dumb phone.

The gallery’s superior photo and some information about the sculpture is available at the link:


I find myself thinking about all sorts of things while I draw.  Because the marble sculpture had such broadly generalized forms and smooth transitions, I found myself having to deal with line in as precise a way as I could manage.

But I found a small, very amorphous sculpture of a head in one of the display cases, a small unfinished study by Degas.  Drawing it, I thought about using an amorphous approach with the clay pencils.  I imagined that I was working with clay myself, that the patches of dark were slabs of clay.  And I saw the masses of darkness as inchoate shapes that suggest the emergent form rather than as specific features.

The picture at NGA’s website shows the object in more definition than I could actually see while looking at it through the display case, no doubt a characteristic of the particular lighting.

amorphous face at NGA Degas question (3)

I try to give myself as much freedom as possible in these drawings.  You can feel a little inhibited when you’re drawing in a public place, but I tell myself that I can do whatever I want while I’m drawing — that I can ask any questions I please, use whatever method, that I can finish a drawing or not.  Drawing this particular object was a really pleasant experience.  It seems to me that Degas was telling himself that he could do whatever he pleases as well.

Information about the object is available at the link below:


drawing with friends

after Rodin nga 1

Drawing at the National Gallery is always enjoyable, especially when you’re drawing with a friend.  This time I made a drawing after Rodin’s “Bust of a Young Girl.”  It’s very relaxing after working with so much focus on the Big Painting studies to be looking at and drawing something that’s not a flower — much as I love drawing flowers ….

Here’s a link to the Rodin:


more drawing with friends

101_1367 (3)

Back at the National Gallery again, this time in the sculpture galleries, with different friends than my last post, I decided to draw one of Rodin’s studies for his Burghers of Calais.  It’s a largish drawing: the head takes up a lot of space on a 14 x 17 inch sheet.  And I don’t altogether like it.  But I learned a great deal making the drawing, and sometimes its good to keep pushing through a drawing even when it isn’t very appealing just because of the information that collects inside your brain.  All that stuff comes to some use eventually.  I worked very freely (maybe it shows — haha!).

I am in still life mode in the studio, but I draw all sorts of things when I’m at the museum.

Here’s my guy, seen at a different angle.  Note the zoom feature.


after Rodin in smooth lines

after Rodin crouching figure Hirshhorn garden

My meetup group visited the Hirshhorn Museum recently.  Outdoors in the sculpture garden I made drawings after Rodin.  The Hirshhorn is home to some brilliant works of art, but the pressure on modern museums to try to produce something uncanny is great.  Consequently there’s always some head-scratching exhibit dominating the place.  Currently at the Hirshhorn it’s not one exhibit, but nearly the entire building that’s dedicated to head-scratching.  And there wasn’t much to look at that holds any purely visual interest.  Purely — visual — interest — you know, the sort of thing that your eyes just want to linger over because the sensation of looking is so mesmerizing.

It’s strange.  I wonder sometimes if the people who have trained themselves in modernity-in-quotes have forgotten how to see?  Rodin is right there in the garden.  He produced sculptures of great visual beauty that are full of emotion also.  They’re even provocative — and are thus so in a genuinely enduring fashion.  But the managers of the Hirshhorn’s hapless collection cannot seem to make the connection.

Ah well!

Rodin had more in the way of ideas and imagery than I knew what to do with.  But I spent my bit of time gazing at the face of his crouching woman and made my drawing above.

my old haunt

rodin after NGA sculpture feb 18

Been busy this week cleaning and organizing my studio — and getting ready for an even bigger cleaning event — the BIG SPRING CLEAN!  So not so much painting in the last few days.

However I did go to the National Gallery of Art yesterday for a few hours and while I was there I made this drawing after a Rodin sculpture.

Spent some time looking at still lifes too in anticipation of my switch from landscape to still life which is coming, coming — soon!  Every time I am out where cut flowers are for sale I am thinking also about still life.  Soon, soon!

Here’s what I was looking at:


Aime-Jules Dalou

drawing after Rodin's head of Aime-Jules Dalou oct 29 nga

I was drawing at the National Gallery of Art yesterday — practicing figurative drawing for the regular life class I attend — and made this drawing after Jules Dalou’s portrait of Alphonse Legros.  I suppose they had an idea about hair — as an expressive feature — that really gets exploited in 19th century art.  In Alphonse Legros’s own self-portrait (see below) he seems to have somewhat less dramatic hair than that with which Dalou portrays him.


While I was drawing the sculpture, I got very caught up in the features of Legros’s magnificent, fictional, lionesque mane.  My drawing is inside a 9 1/2 by 6 1/4 inch Stillman and Birn notebook.  I also made a slightly larger drawing on Strathmore drawing paper (not pictured).  And I’m eager to get back to the museum soon and make some more drawings after the sculpture — because — the hair!

Here’s a photo of the sculpture on NGA’s website — different angle — but it’s a link to an image that you can zoom into if you’re so inclined ….


At first I thought the bust was by Rodin because the room is full of Rodin sculptures of various sorts and sizes.  I had never heard of Dalou before, but now I learn that he was an amazing sculptor with a quite expansive, varied oeuvre.

And while looking for information about the National Gallery’s Rodins, I happened upon a fabulous Rodin drawing that NGA owns.  The link below also has a zoom feature.  So, I’m thinking about this kind of drawing too as inspiration for life class.  How freely Rodin approached the figure, but of course his freedom is built on tons of knowledge.  Here’s the link to the drawing:


So many things to see, so many things to draw, ain’t life grand?!