Sunday, January 25, 2015

The vital importance of construction

Now If we are talking about ideal figure drawing education then Id say that we have to start by deviating from the seen reality right away. 3D anatomical construction with a strong composed perspective.
Now, on top of this base you can do all the light study you would like, but the base need to be there. That is my opinion.

The 19th century french masters was strongly rooted in a different tradition, the same tradition that they kept in the Soviet union and the tradition that we have to return to IF we want to get back to the standards of the past.


Now as for the system that is being used at FAA or Angel or other places, I understand that this system works well for having a short(3-4 year) program.
It is most likely the fastest way of learning realist drawing/painting. I wont argue with this. I believe in it!
But I also believe that a figure without inner structure or strong composed perspective is lacking the essential!
Then Id rather wait with the study of realism and subtle rendering of light/shade untill Ive mastered the basics. That makes sense in my mind.

I talked with a person from the Angel school who, after 4 years, admitted that he had no draftman skills.

But I see many people at Angel academy very satisfied with the figure drawing program. I dont think they would be happy with a complicated system that required them to sketch bones on a daily basis, learn planar construction, etc.

So as for the situation today, perhaps it has to stay like this for a while.


I can give you much insight into the rutine of a russian renaissance atelier, I like to talk about this so I just write it her.

Now half of the day is spent drawing bones. These bones will be constructed in perspective, planar construction, light/shade rendered from imagination using Michelangelos system. In this conceptual system the only point there is, is to communicate form. Thus the light/shade follows form. Edges(places where the form changes angle) are rendered, marked. Sharp edges is rendered with sharp transition, soft with soft transition.
The other half of the day is spent doing figure studies - from 15min to 15 hours, perhaps more.
Bones are used while you draw the figure - you grap them and study them and compare them to the figure in front - and figure out where they are on the figure you are looking at.
As for the rendering, bones are rendered with a sharp transition, muscles with a soft transition. This works well with the feeling of touch.

Youd be feeling the form with your hands if you cant figure it out. Personally I prefer to just mark the edges(change of form) with a piece of charcoal.
Youd be using cross-hatch to follow the form, and REALLY get the feel of 3d form.

The organizing outline is the most difficult to master - as the "outline" really moves into the form, marks the bones. These organizing lines are especially usefull in order to keep the structure together. That is, small forms grouped with other small forms, on top of bigger forms. Thus "outline" ISN'T contoure, but is also found within the figure. An outline is ANY line that is used to help the visual communication by seperating form(one form behind another) AND organize a hierarchy of forms.
Then there are different strenghts of outline, both in size and value. (Sorry to say that this is impossible to communicate in words!!!)

But this is ESPECIALLY why even the fastest sketches done by masters work so well - they simply organize everything - communicate the most complex structure with the simplest possible use of lines!!!


This is perhaps the most important thing,

You train your 6th sense of form, x-ray eyes, omniescient wisdom!

ALWAYS draw transparent, draw what YOU CANNOT SEE!!!
Draw the backside of the model when you only see the frontside, and MOVE around the model. Look at the pose from ALL ANGLES to really understand it. You NEED that omniescient knowledge in order to construct a proper pose!
Even in his 80's Michelangelo would still draw transparent to solve more complicated movements of the limbs.
It is simply impossible to get the true feel of the body without this way of working. You ARE the body that you are drawing - your mind is inside it, rather than just scraping the surface.

All right, there is much much more..


About the artists you mentioned. I truly think they are amazingly talented. Honestly.
As for Robert Liberace, the reason I think he is so talented is that he manages to copy the renaissance style so well, without understanding the subtleties of construction.
But that is also where his limitation lies. He simply cannot push it much further, because his technique is still mainly based on copying. This is what it looks like to me - maybe Im wrong? Time will tell.

The renaissance artists differed - their technique where mainly based on construction, then copying came second. Michelangelo rarely copied the light, much study he did from imagination.

Strength is especially needed in the composed perspective.

I can tell you a story,

When I was studying at the drawing academy with my russian master, there was a student who was drawing a bust that was put above head hight.
Now this bust was slightly leaning to one side, making the eyebrow to eyebrow line tilt opposite of what it would have done had it been stable.
This person drew it like he saw it, aka copying. Then the master came along and REVERSED the angle of the eyebrow to eyebrow line - thus being opposite of what the person saw.
This resulted in a huge argument, and what was most interesting was that the master didnt even look for one second at how the bust was actually leaning!
Because this lean was accidental and worked against a strong perspective, it would really weaken the feeling of a high position and make the drawing too complicated for a beginning student (minutely tilted head)

Because in order to do something that truly works, we have to EXAGGERATE and find the ideal way of visual communication, and this is also where I find many problems with todays realist figure drawing programs.
I suppose you could say that exaggeration is "manerism" but it truly isnt. Its the only way to learn how to draw properly in the long run.

The model pose is another example.
In the russian system you set up a slightly exaggerated contraposto, because you really want to communicate(and learn) this pose. This is not manerism, this is logic. Especially since the model stiffens.
But in order to exaggerate you first need control, and that is hard work! Draw the bones, construct the figures, get the feel of working in 3 dimensions, learn the anatomy etc. This can take many many years alone.

But if you want realism after only 3-4 years, then you have to skip all the basics, and that is why I say that the current atelier system can never produce masters of the same standard as the past. It is completely impossible.

Seperate the principles, learn them one by one, and then build on top of these.


To get back to your post,

I dont know much about sight size with the figure. I cannot imagine using it, also because I want to learn to do proper proportions without having to rely on such a system. But if you find it useful, thats great!
I know that Thomas Eakins used it when doing portrait sketches. So he could work faster, getting an expression without having to worry about proportions.

About the angel gesture system, there are some things I really like about it.
Personally I prefer Vilppus system.
The russians thinks more in terms of tilts of the big forms.
Often why their academic works lacks gesture. I dont think they have a linear gesture system.

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