Search results for “bargue”

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In Which I Argue for Bargue

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

Yesterday I came across some info on a school in Florence for realist painters, and one of the first things their students do is follow a series of lessons devised by Charles Bargue, a 19th-century French artist. The idea is to copy the drawings exactly, using a piece of string to plot key landmarks, and letting your eyeballs do the rest. With enough practice, apparently, you can ditch the string, and apply your newly honed spatial abilities to draw more accurately from life. Here’s a copy of the lessons in PDF format if you’re interested.

Well, it’s the moment of truth. I’m green, and Bargue is pink.


Aaand, just like in tee-ball, I get the participation trophy. Sure, it seems pretty close, but the parts where I strayed definitely coincide with the parts I drew without consulting the string. I’ll keep plugging away.


Speaking of Which


I decided this weekend that I’d like to progress a little faster, and the only way to do that is to spend more time drawing and learning. I looked at all my distractingly cool gadgets and realized, hey, I can use technology to get me motivated instead. So, starting tomorrow, my computer will roust me out of bed at 7am, my iPhone will harass me to get in the shower, and then I’ll dive into 2-3 hours of drawing before work. I’ll come up with my assignments no later than the night before, so I have something definitive to accomplish. Tomorrow it’s more Bargue–I’ll probably start over on the foot and hopefully do well enough to move on to the shading.

After work, I’ll spend at least an hour reading offline; I have a lot of art-related books that I’ve failed to dive into.

I think it’s a pretty realistic and modest plan; certainly there have already been plenty of days where I spent 4 hours, or more, drawing. But more often than not, I’m sitting in front of Google and free-associating my way through the Internet.

Not that I expect anyone to keep me in line, but because I like to motivate myself with accountability, I’ll also be using Twitter a lot more, to post updates about what I’m doing art-wise.

That’s about it! Wish me luck.

Measure of a Slacker

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook


This sketch of a statue at the Met looks OK, right? Better than your dog could do? OK, I’ll give you that. Your dog’s a hack.

But compare it with a photo of the statue, taken from the same seated position from which I drew it.

diocompareGreen=Sillhouette of the real statue=I am Mr. Magoo

OK, so a camera can add its own distortions, but not this much. I SUCK.

Don’t worry; I’m not actually beating myself up over this. There was a time in the past when I would have seen this as a sign to throw in the towel, but now it’s quite the opposite. It’s comforting to know that all the art books and teachers are right. If you want to get good, and stay good, at drawing what you see, you need to practice. All the time.

It’s timely that this fella Noah Bradley recently posted an article entitled “21 Days to Be a Better Artist.” It’s one of many such “challenges” on the Internet that makes a game out of something you should already be doing. I do like the fact that he restricts it to accurately recreating what you see.

Let me deconstruct art for you. Taking the 80/20 rule to art, the most important thing you can learn is being able to look at something and recreate it on paper. That’s the first and foremost skill you should learn in art.

Longtime readers (hi Mom) will remember I was pretty gung-ho about this for about a week in 2012, spending less time on cute sketches and more time learning how to see and measure.

The thing about measuring is, you can’t really half-ass it; it just ends up screwing you up more. As I set about drawing the statue above, I held up my pencil a few times and thought I made some accurate measurements. I made some marks on my paper and proceeded to shoehorn poor Dionysus here into those obviously wrong proportions.

I know better than to make these mistakes. A corollary to improving with practice is getting less shy about holding your pencil up in the air like some artist out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. You just gotta do it.

Anyway, consider this day 1 of the challenge. I probably won’t post everything, but feel free to ask me about it and hold me to it. And, if it’s your kind of thing, try it out yourself!

Some Bust

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook


One day down. After a couple lectures about the oil painting process, we practiced by drawing a plaster bust. The models will arrive on Wednesday.

The method they’re teaching is very meticulous, essentially the same as the Bargue drawings I was doing a while back, but one thing that surprised me is that we’re doing all our drawing/painting about 8 feet away from the easel! What that means is the canvas is aligned with the subject. We step back and use a piece of string to measure and plot the location of various features. We walk up to the canvas, make a mark, walk back and check to see if the mark is in the right place.

The upshot of this tedious, non-creative process is that you end up with an image that’s a perfect copy of what you’re seeing, and if the canvas is aligned with the subject, the copy is also exactly the same size as the real thing. It’s kind of like a reverse-engineered photo. And if you get this part right, most of the hard work involved in getting a likeness is done.

So, we’ll have 3 days with the model to get this part done, plotting points and delineating highlights and shadows. Then next week, painting begins.

Gawrsh Mark needs new eyes

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

It’s about time I drew a goof besides myself. This time I approached it more like a Bargue drawing, measuring and correcting as I went (as you can see from all the half-erased lines). In fact, I think I’ll make these my replacement for Bargue drawings, since it gives you the same sort of practice (learning to see accurately), but you end up with a cartoon character instead of a boring piece of clip art.


Every Day I’m Practicin’

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

I debated: which would make for a less interesting post, the Bargue practice I’m doing, or a stylized photo of myself practicing?

Now the question is, did I choose to post the less interesting one, or the more interesting one? I just broke your brain.

Cutting the Caffeine

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

I know, just what you wanted to see from me: scissors in a mug. Actually, weekdays on the ‘ol Sketchbook are about to get a little more boring, because I’ve now set aside certain days for exercises like this. I really want to ramp up my drawing/seeing ability in anticipation of the two-week painting workshop I’m taking in Florence, Italy this Summer. So there’ll be still life days and Bargue days, with fun stuff saved for the weekends. I’ll at least try to find funny objects to draw.

Oh, and hey, Kerkel surives another week. Vote if you wanna.

Pumping Lead

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

Picked up a compass and started in on a new Bargue. Still made a few mistakes, but overall this is much closer than my first two attempts. I’ll continue working on this offline, but I’ll try to post something different here tomorrow, since I know these are a bit boring to look at.