If you have questions about techniques or just curiosity about the how to of art, drop me a line by way of a comment. Might make good material for a post, because if you have a question, there’s bound to be others who are wondering the same things!
Here’s a drawing after an Ingres portrait by Kirstin Lamb. Her copy has become an entirely new image, quite in its own right, with wonderfully loose lines and frank directness. It’s certainly fun for me finding it and being able to demonstrate someone else’s use of copies. You discover how fully inventive Lamb’s copy after Ingres is by comparing it with its original. Mrs. Hayard has had a good make-over, as a consequence becoming a thoroughly modern Millie.
[Top of the post: Copy at Ingres’s Madame Charles Hayard, by Kristin Lamb]
The same Renaissance portrait sculpture that I drew and posted previously is pictured above from a different angle. The wonderful thing about drawing from a sculpture is that you can study a figure from various angles, and yet always the pose is the same since, of course, she never moves.
I was aware of an artist’s manual, written by none other than Peter Paul Rubens, that exists now only in a fragment. He advised artists to make drawings after sculpture (as was his own practice) and to draw in such a way as to breathe life into the figure. It should not look like a sculpture, but like a person. I was aware of that advice and felt at the time of the drawing that my version was too much sculpture still and not enough of a person. However, looking at the drawing now from a distance of some years, I think the woman in the drawing looks very alive — even despite her iris-less eyes.
That’s why you draw first and editorialize later. You need to gain distance from your drawings if you are really to understand them. At the time of their making, your mind is full of your intentions — many of which do not make it onto the page — many of which are even conflicting and unformed. And your mind is full of the model, which will of course be different from the drawing in innumerable ways (and this is not necessarily a bad thing).
When you are drawing, you should simply concentrate upon drawing, being focused on the subject and your visual thoughts about it. And afterwards you can learn to understand the drawing you made, but you have to realize that it takes time. What you notice about your drawings changes with time. (Sometimes your drawing gets better! Sometimes it gets worse. Que sera sera.)
I can’t find the particular sculpture that I drew on the National Gallery’s website. Perhaps I can locate it at a later date. However, it is similar to this figure attributed to a follower of Andrea del Verrocchio.
I like the way this woman’s head is held high, the way her neck is as supple and erect as a young plant. This would be a difficult pose for a model to hold without tiring, which is exactly why drawing from the sculpture has so many benefits. This model not only doesn’t move: she never gets tired.
[Top of the post: Drawing after a Renaissance Sculpture, by Aletha Kuschan]
I’ve been pouring through notebooks looking for drawings to post. This is a self-portrait from a few years ago. However, I don’t look like this. I don’t think I looked like this then either. Perhaps on a really bad day, I bear some resemblance to this if I am having a serious state of the blahs. Even now, in the grip of my cold, I look much better. It matters not.
Indeed, I post this as an example of the virtues of self-portraiture, benefits that transcend likeness. You can use yourself to try out ideas, to make emotional statements — or just to model funny hats — it worked for Rembrandt (though I prefer to use squirrels for that). The drawing doesn’t have to look like you to be a provocative drawing. It just has to be what it is. And it communicates what it will.
What I like about this drawing, though (and what I hope it reveals about me) is its economy of line. That constitutes (I hope) my “portrait” in it. Like the line that describes the top of my head — that’s got some punch. It’s bold drawing. (One wants to be bold.)
[Top of the post: Self-portrait in the pose of Melancholia, by Aletha Kuschan]
The squirrels are into the tequila again. Actually this is a drawing for a painting. I draw things that I’m going to paint. It helps me think the image through. It’s also very enjoyable to rehearse the idea. And naturally having rehearsed the idea, it develops more readily in its painted form.
But the differences in drawing and painting are quite plain. All the small lines and textures that you can capture in a drawing have to be sacrificed in a painting. Well, each has its own charm.
[Top of the post: Squirrel as Carmen Miranda, by Aletha Kuschan]
Congratulations Alice! This pretty much raps it up for my coverage of the Cat Olympics. There are still one or two more events, but none that include our Alice. And, naturally, the whole Cat Olympics is now being eclipsed by the human version. But I’ll keep you posted about Alice’s other adventures. She always has some. She’s quite a cat.
[Top of the post: Alice with her medal, as drawn by the young artist.]
A certain kind of drawing is fast and free. If you were trying to think out loud about something, you wouldn’t worry about eloquence. And in a certain kind of drawing you don’t worry about eloquence either.
It’s like writing a “to do” list for yourself. It’s like quick catching a first impression. It’s a form of play. You create your own coloring book drawing, rapid-fire lines that you fill with color — or that you leave empty — it doesn’t matter.
It’s like mumbling to yourself. Hmm … this goes over here. This goes over there ….
It’s really not a big deal. That’s a kind of drawing, too. I drew this tea pot as casually as I would drink the tea.
[Top of the post: Tea pot and Cup, by Aletha Kuschan, pencil and watercolor]
Would that I’d had a model, but I couldn’t afford to hire someone. So, I became my own model for hands too. I sometimes used a mirror and sometimes photographs. Regarding these drawings, I don’t post them as exemplary of good drawing, but as instances of everyday ideas being tried like scales and riffs on an instrument. They were casually and quickly made. And they, too, offered me freedom.
I was painting a commission, the kind of thing that pays bills. But in the studies, I could explore ideas.
[Top of the post: My hands, by Aletha Kuschan, pencil]
Art happens as a consequence of many small decisions laid out over many days and years. I was doing a historical portrait for a commission and needed some feet for one of the subjects so I became my own model. This isn’t the only drawing I made of me wearing my nice shoes.
This was actually very enjoyable to draw, too. I found freedom in the drawing that wasn’t available in the commission (for fairly obvious reasons).
I think the shadow served to give me some ground to stand on. That’s always a good thing to have when dealing with feet and shoes.
[Top of the posts: Drawing of My Taupe colored Pumps, by Aletha Kuschan, pencil]