Bargue, The Figure and Grisaille in Oils!

Wow – A lot to post today. The fruits of a busy and really productive week. First up – The figure!

This is my second figure drawing from a live model using the sight-size method I am learning at the studio. It is a really slow start in that this is about eight hours of drawing. I have so far to go but I have come so far since my first attempt. I am focusing on the block in now. I cannot even grok shadow shapes yet and it feels like getting there is akin to going to mars. I know one day I will be doing shadow but I want my block ins to be confident and strong first. Below is my first attempt at a figure, my first session with this figure and my final session. Lisa and Jonathan are amazing teachers and help me to really understand what I am seeing, how to prioritize all the input and how to capture it.

And then there are the Bargue drawings.  This is my previous work compared to this weeks work. The Bargue drawings are incessant. The big realization I came to last week: The closer you get, the farther you are. Truth.

Finally, to the oil painting. This is not under the direct instruction of LIsa but it is under her guidance. In a traditional atelier you would spend months to years drawing before you ever pick up a brush. Well, I am getting a late start at this whole training thing and I am burning daylight. So I must paint. It is my heart. Under Lisa’s direction I am re-beginning my oil painting studies using indirect painting in grisaille (gray values) only. For most additional instruction I seek to find the best sources of information and apply it to the best of my ability. I applaud the atleliers and artists that are so open about methods and materials.

Below are my under paintings and the “open grisaille” beginnings along with the reference material I am working from. I have no room in my very small apartment for a still life so I am relegated to working with photos of still lives I have put together. The drawings are done using the techniques I am learning in my program. The under painting is a burnt umber. The grisaille palette is a value string made of a mixture of ivory black and burnt umber for the dark and titanium white for the light. I am using a nine value string. My lean medium for my open grisaille is turpenoid with a tad of liquin to assist drying time. My fat medium will have a little more of the liquin.
Other than that, in terms of application I feel like I am learning to drive for the first time and I am out of control of the car.

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Knee Deep in Bargue…

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Here is the work from last week’s Bargue. I have come a long way from the last post but have a long, long way to go. Firstly, the belly in the Bargue drawing is slack and relaxed. Mine is tense. This changes the entire pose and in adjusting it I am going to make a number of small adjustments that will effect the whole drawing. The loin cloth is too long and misshapen. Thigh to butt space is still too skinny. One of the arms is too thick. Lisa and I came up with at least twenty adjustments that are needed just from where it is right now. Finishing the top of the head being the least important. This can be very frustrating because it “looks” so close.

We have been working on the same Bargue drawing for a few weeks now.  I have gotten to the point a few times where I really want to stop and move on to another drawing. A point where I really think I can not see any clearer or look any harder. Each time, even before I say anything my teacher, Lisa Silas anticipates the angst. She says that is at this stage of the drawing that you learn the most, the you stretch and grow the most. Under her firm and unwavering critique my eyes finally refocus again and adjust to see what she is pointing out and what I can do to become even more accurate in the drawing. More and more I see that the Bargue drawings are not about drawing the best copy of the drawing. It is about taking every opportunity to stretch your ability to look, to explore line and shape and work the muscles of perception until they literally ache. This training is already changing the way I paint in my off-school time in huge ways. The discipline of it is changing my level of commitment to my own artistic path.

When artist and co-founder of the school, Jonothan Chorn welcomed me when I first started out he welcomed me to a “way of living”. I thought that strange at first but I am beginning to understand that the rigors of a classical training program and the discipline involved create just that, a way of life shared by you, your teachers and your fellow students. It is becoming more and more treasured by me.