Sunday, November 25, 2012

Learning from the Old Masters. Damn - they had a complete freakin' SYSTEM for this shit!!

Thanks to all these Old Master studies - copying their drawings and paintings and also learning what I can about their techniques from Hale and Vilppu etc, I'm actually starting to get a lot more than I bargained for - I'm actually getting a complete system for constructing the figure that begins with a thumbnail composition sketch, then a gestural sketch which allows you to place the figure and pose it without thinking too much about details yet, then construction and anatomy by placing the bony landmarks and running lines from the origin to the insertion of each major muscle group - and finally placing the plane breaks properly and core shadows. As well as always running your shading lines etc around the form to show roundness.

This stuff is exactly what I need - a system that allows construction of figures directly from the imagination - no need for models (who tend to pose in deathly dull ways and are very expensive) or photographs, though using either will only help to advance the learning process.

Had a revelation tonight while walking Pepper - the figure is not identical to the body or to a person. Those are actual flesh and blood things - the figure is actually an artistic convention - a virtual model and a system for drawing it. A set of ideas if you will. I mean, I mnow - it sounds pretty obvious, right? But it holds a meaning I had never fully understood bfore in all its glory - a figure painting isn't a painting of a human figure - it's the artist's hard-earned awareness of his own particular version of the figure, done in his own method.

One great thing about copying these drawings and paintings - you get great poses! And all these awesome muscular old men, balding with with long flowing beards and long hair. The very image of Renaissance masculinity in maturity.

By doing only one figure a day I'll amass 365 of them in a year - if I make it double or triple that I can hit a thousand in a year's time. A necessarily compressed master artist training session (compressing a dozen or so years' worth of daily study into a single year, though the learning process continues ever onward). Right now it's pretty crazy, struggling with new techniques materials and ideas each day. But soon I'll become familiar with some of them and start to really get a handle on how to work with them, and then it's on baby!! That's when the skills really begin to flourish.

Teachings of Tiepolo

Doing that Tiepolo last night was hard, but what a learning experience! The posing - no symmetry anywhere, every form askew in some way, each figure also askew from all the rest. And especially his masterful way of sketching in the figure - striking in flowing lines that always run from origin to insertion, with a break between lines (always at the bony landmarks or where muscle groups overlap). Then the decpetively simple wash always denoting plane breaks, with a few accents only where needed.

Tombow lives again

What a break - learning to do the wash before the inking! Means I can use the Tombows again, which I did tonight, though it still didn't go great - until I decided to google how to use them that is. Ooohhh - so you're not supposed to just blend dry? Oops! A damp brush will work wonders, and allow intricate and perfectly controlled wash effects. Also, scribble on plastic and pick it up on the blender to add just a touch of tone or color into an existing wash. Awesome!!! Now THIS is rockin!!

Inevitably, as soon as I saw how excellently I can work with the Tombows (yes Virginia, there is a w) I considered getting a limited range of colors resembling my palette. Something to keep in mind, but not surprisingly there followed directly on the heels of this thought another one...

Cracked the Aquarelle code!

I had tried in the past but never got anything good using water to blend the aquarelle pencils. But then I never tried using a damp brush! Plus I only tried once or twice that I recall, and always got too-intense colors and didn't understnad color theory or anything about painting really. A quick test shows this works very nicely indeed, with a somewhat different effect than the Tombows. Tombows are more washy while aquarelles are more like a drawing/airbrush type medium. I like them bth in different ways - I definitely do want to get a set of Tombows that includes a burnt sienna and some kind of cooler darker brown like an umber or vandyke or choclate. This is a beautiful, simple and very non-messy way of doing wash work that's extrmely precise (if you want it to be) with super-easy cleanup. Same goes for the aquarelles. 

Hah! Had to laugh... it was only after writing this above : "soon I'll become familiar with some of them (new materials and techniques) and start to really get a handle on how to work with them, and then it's on baby!!" that I suddenly got a handle on Tombows and then, immediately after, aquarelles. Oh it is on! 

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