Monday, March 16, 2009


These are sketches from statues found in the awesome Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Greeks certainly loved portraying naked dudes, but this sculpture happens to be female and clothed. As I will discuss in an upcoming post, I have been struck down by the astute criticism of an artistic superior, which opened my eyes to certain subtle drawing practices that have already improved my sketches. I have been trying to learn these new techniques, which are in some ways entire paradigm shifts in artistic methodology. I was feeling pretty successful with this clothed female Greek, until I was forced to eschew one basic and important aspect: completeness. If it were up to me, the Met would be open evenings until very very late, so I could go and draw whenever. Also, the museum would switch its lighting around so that the statues are all lit in such a way that makes drawing them most fulfilling. But alas, the world does not revolve around me. So the Met kicked me out and closed its doors before I could finish this drawing. I may finish this sketch soon, though, because I think it was going well.

I often take a lot of time to remove all lines form my drawing, for lines are unnatural. Line in nature is determined by shape and contrast, rather than contour. In sketching, line is a basic and useful tool. So a sketch may be made by increasingly tightening lines to form the desired object. If the drawing will be taken to completion, these lines would be applied in such a way as to be easily subsumed into the shading. In the clothed woman sketch above, I didn't even get as far as planning to subsume the lines.

This next sketch of a robed Roman man was another aborted artistic process, but this wasn't the Met's fault. This was to be a chiaroscuro drawing, because if I remember correctly this sculpture is metallic and I thought the ability to highlight would be beneficial to the sketch. I skipped any outlines entirely and started applying values in a haphazard way. I became impatient and stopped after some minutes. It is really worth noting that the full process of taking each artistic step to completion is the best way to achieve finished, quality, realistic drawings. That is in fact true of almost every human endeavor. While there are valid drawing techniques that don't rely on line, but rather on the application of dark and light forms and values, this evidently wasn't suitable for my mind and the piece at the time.
I didn't end up finishing this drawing, or even spending more than the few minutes required for this sketch. I went back to it the same day with a different technique and instead focused on line to make a preparatory sketch with more success:
It's interesting how some techniques fit certain subjects sometimes but not others. Tell me what you think and what works for you! I'll be posting more statuary soon...

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