Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to do a Bargue by Sight Size

This is the first step in the Bargue Cours de dessin, the course of learning to draw by the classical method.

The steps are pretty straightforward.

You start with one of Charles Bargue's lithographs. These can be purchased in a big folio.

You stick one of them up on the easel at eye level. You stick a piece of paper next to it. You draw some guidelines, one on the edge and the other down the middle of the drawing so that about an even amount of information is on either side of the line.

Using a plumb line, you measure and mark the most significant points along the contour edge of the drawing, starting with the one the furthest away from your side guideline. This would be the tip of her nose, in this case. Then you join up the dots, going around the curves not with curved lines, but with a whole bunch of little straight lines. This way you can get the curves more accurately. Curves in nature are never even like a ball, but are always slightly lopsided, with the apex of a curve being closer to one end or the other, and little "hidden" straight bits that aren't immediately evident. You can soften the straight-line curves later.

Then you plot the significant points inside the contour line, and join those up.

Then you shade in the "values," (that's shadows in non-artfart speak) doing them all evenly with a light touch on your first pass. Don't try to darken in the darker bits right away. Just do them all the same for now.

When the values are in, it becomes easier to see where the faults are in placement of the stuff inside the contour edge, and the places where the contour edge is a little off.

Then you put in the deeper shadows, darkening the values progressively, being careful not to focus on one part of the drawing at a time, but doing the whole thing evenly all over.

Then you spend three weeks fiddling with it to make it perfect.

And Voy-Lah: Art!



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