Thursday, October 20, 2011

Learning charcoal

This is my second value sphere. I didn't do it from life, but copied it from Juliette Aristides' book, the Classical Drawing Atelier. When I looked at it, I kind of sighed, knowing that I had to do it to learn what I wanted to know, but sort of assuming it was going to be a bore. Turns out it was anything but. There are a great many things to think about when you're looking at how light behaves when it strikes a solid object.

I realised that I just didn't have the skills with charcoal to make a go of the Dramatic Tea Pot still life. I was attempting to play a concerto without ever having practiced scales. But if I'm going to go where I want to go with this, the only way is the slow way.

There are a bunch of formal exercises like these that teach your brain and hand now to handle the medium. When I said below that it is possible to learn to draw, this is the sort of thing I was talking about. Learning Classical Realist drawing and painting is more or less the equivalent of learning a musical instrument and requires the same kind of application, something I was certainly not capable of doing when I was younger.

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Also: Here is a website that allows some very close examination of the charcoal figure drawings of Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, the 19th century painter and draughtsman. I don't think his paintings particularly stand out from the crowd of 19th century academic painting, but his drawings have a special glow. His technique is well worth looking at if you want to know how to do rounded figure drawing with strong light/dark contrasts in charcoal.