click for enlargementI chose this drawing to copy because of it’s quality of line. I’m spending alot of time with lineat the moment. And also because it’s a beautiful drawing, Sargent had talent coming out of his ears.
Two other things this drawing had going for it: Firstly, the print I worked from was actual size.I think it’svery important to copy work the same size as it was originally done. working actual size means thatyou see all the gestures of the original artist exactly as they were made.
Secondly, the original drawing was done in pencil. If youuse the same materials as the original artist did, you get to see (hopefully) how the lines weremade, and maybe a little bit of why.
When I started this drawing, I immediately noticed a difference between this and my last old mastercopy, the Van Dyck drawing. Of courseit’s a lot less complicated than that one. But this time it felt familiar, doing the Barguecopies has made this sort of thing feel like home territory now, even though I’ve only donetwo and a half plates.
Here it is near the start, the first benefit of the Bargue copies is showing. I started by markingout the highest point of his hair, and the bottom of his chin, then the point of his nose and the backof his head. Then I went round the drawing, picking points and marking them in, without actually drawingmany of the lines. Then I joined up some of the more major points, resulting in the stage it’s athere. Now I can see how close I am to the overall shape.
Not very. Much of this had to be redrawn, I’ve got the whole thing too big here. I can clearly seethat I’ve got the distance from the shadow under the moustache to the eye too big. Less obvious isthat I’ve got the distance between the chin and the lip too big too.
I should point out that the copying is done by eye, no measuring. The point of the exercise is eyetraining, judging distances and the outline of shapes. I do measure every now and again when I thinksomething is right, to make sure I’m on the right track, and if it’s out I go back to judging byeye. There’s no point in measuring to get through the exercise more quickly, short cuts make longdelays. Finishing quicker now would mean much longer before I get reasonably competent at judgingby eye.
Overall I think I got the main shapes down fairly well, but my line is nowhere near assensitive as Sargent’s and my shading is much less delicate. This is not a Bargue drawing, with linesdrawn with great evenness and precision, designed to be copied. This is an artist in full flow, moredifficult to capture in a copy I’m finding.
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