Sunday, April 6, 2008

My first drawing from life!

(Brendan)

After all my work learning to draw, I had finally reached a level where I wanted to move to drawing from life (instead of drawing with the aid of a picture as a reference). Following the classical atelier methods, I read up on the sight-size drawing technique using such books as Drawing Course, by Charles Bargue, Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach, by Darren Rousar, and Classical Drawing Atelier, by Juliette Aristides. There are lots of websites that also aided me, such as here, here, and here. It's a fantastic way to train the eye to notice the most minute details of the scene being drawn and to truthfully render it.

Sight-size methods are often used in schools and ateliers to teaching "cast drawing" and "cast painting." For such a drawing, a cast statue is used as the subject with a light source at an oblique angle to create a shadow over a portion of the statue. Cast statues and busts are ideal for learning to draw because they are generally white in color with dark shadows and can be rendered solely with a combination of white and black tones. Casts also don't move, so a scene can be set up (a complex task that usually takes a day) and then left in place for weeks or months while the drawing is done in spurts (Molly's laughing now, because I made use of the "months" part of that).

We really had only one cast that we owned that would serve the purposes of this drawing, and it was an "Our Lady of Grace" statue that we have outdoors in a garden area. So I brought that in and set up shop in the only place in the house I could, the laundry room. Molly loved the fact that I did this :-) and left my set-up in place from about November to yesterday. I got charcoal dust all over the place, blocked off access to the water softener and some shelving, and used her favorite bed sheet (black flanel) as my background. Hey, it needed to happen.

So here's some pictures from the set-up after I finally finished last night (click either of them to enlarge)...
Unfortunately, due to the fact I had to take the pics in the dark and couldn't use a flash, they aren't quite true to the actual appearance (it's hard to see the subtleties of the shadows on the cast, for instance, as our cheap camera couldn't pic them up). And the background behind the cast was lighter in real life, more like what you see in my drawing. But, you still get a feel for the scene I was drawing, and I am ecstatic with the final artwork. Once I get it framed it will definitely be a prized piece of ours.

Here's closer pics of the drawing itself, which I could take with a flash (click either to enlarge)...
Cast Drawing of Our Lady of Grace, by Brendan Koop
Vine charcoal, compressed charcoal, and white chalk on gray Canson Mi-Tientes drawing board, approx. 16"x36"

I'm thinking a permanent place for this in our new house will be in the library, due to the quietness that's exuded in the picture and the fact that there is a fireplace there that would suit out-of-view light source of the picture.

10 comments:

Joe Clarke said...

Great job Brendan! I've been waiting to see this post since I saw the project nearly finished a few weeks ago.

Sounds like a win-win for Molly on all accounts... the laundry room is back in order and she has some great art for the house.

Starting a new one anytime soon? ... just kidding Molly :)

Amanda said...

Brendan- This is gorgeous! Is there anything you don't excel at? Hahaha. :)

Kristina said...

WOW! Looks great. I'd love one hanging in my house!

Kristina

Brendan Koop said...

Thanks for all the kind comments!

Allison Koop said...

I showed your drawing to one of my students who is an art major. She was entirely stunned. You can barely tell the difference between the picture and real statue! I swear, you make me sick sometimes! ;)

Brendan Koop said...

Thanks! But honestly, it's more about the method than talent. I think anyone can learn these methods, it's just a matter of whether they want to spend as much time doing it. I will claim some talent for determination, but that's about it!

Molly Koop said...

I do have to say that Brendan rarely starts something unless he's pretty sure he'll be able to do it well. He'd likely be awful at something like knitting, so therefore, he would never try it. :)
Also, I have to say that I LOVE having my laundry room back! (And it is mine. No one else in this family does laundry, and I do prefer it taht way.) :)

Suzanne said...

I loved seeing 'Our Lady' finished so beautifully. Brendan, have any advice for younger kids 5th and down on were they should go to learn different art media? I am considering finding something for my son who loves to draw. This method sounds a little advanced at this time:)

Brendan Koop said...

Suzanne:

I would really recommend getting some good books for him for now, everything I have learned I've learned from books. There aren't many classical training opportunities out there for kids, and only a few for adults, so books are a good place to start. If he's interested in learning the cast drawing technique, a really good basic book is Darren Rousar's book (which is brief and easy to read). I also would recommend this book which gives a very good, simple overview of classical drawing.

melody said...

This is so beautiful! I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see it!