Sunday, 28 August 2011

Master Studies- growing skills

I have this deep urge to grow my skills almost on a continual basis. I'm always reading up on things and I recently decided to follow through on something that I have wanted to do for a long time but just didn't have the time. Still don't have the time but I'm making the time. Warning! Tangent ahead: Often the debate about self taught or going to school rages on about which one is better. My view is that whether you go to school or not, you have to take responsibility for your own education. DON'T EVER relegate your education, growth and development to someone else or an institution. If you have the opportunity to go to school be sure to go but if you don't have that you need to immerse yourself in self study and practice. Unfortunately it is all too easy for those who get an education to not push as hard as those who are doing it by themselves. In my opinion: Dedication and passion, a desire to grow skills and learn and the realization that it all starts with you mixed in with an openness to be taught and corrected moves one in the right direction whether you study at an art school or by yourself. Tangent ended. Sorry about that.

I set some rules from the outset for doing these studies. The first one was 'NO EYEDROPPER TOOL'. I want to train my eyes to recognize value and hue more effectively. I have kept to this rule and the others I set throughout.

So, I am doing some master copy studies. My aims have been different for the two studies I'm doing. The first one here I decided to do to learn more about how William Bouguereau painted figures. My main aim was not to perfectly reproduce the painting but to learn about his use of color and how he constructed his figures. So I'm looking at color usage, form and so on. I must say I was surprised by what I learnt. Bearing in mind that the conclusions I came up with could be erroneous from what he actually did on canvas and in the historically factual sense, my learning experience even if it is subjective has taught me some great things that I am sure to apply to my work.  The first thing I found surprising was his use of grays, most of the surface is a gray of some short with some areas of purer color related or contrastive to the gray around it to make it pop. Further the palette I think he used for his skin tones were unexpected, purples and crimsons playing a strong part. Bearing in mind that I'm painting digitally from a poor copy of 'The Wave'. I can still say that the things I learnt are sound if I think about my understanding of the principles of art that I have amassed in my head. 

I'm not going to finish it, it is incomplete and vaguely resembles the model in the original but I have learnt tremendously from the experience. Funnily I actually used some of my new found knowledge from this experiment to paint 'The Three Little Zombie Pigs' which is nothing like  the fineness of William Bouguereau's beautiful painting. Never used to like him much (prejudice from art school days), but I must admit that I am in awe after examining his brush work and delicate finishing.

The second master copy I'm busy with I want to be more precise and reproduce the picture to be as close to the original as possible. At this stage I want to finish it as well but am not sure that I will. My aim is to study not to reproduce so I might leave it to study something else if I feel that I have learnt what I set out to learn (limited time). I'm not done with it and I will post updates in this post as I go. I love John William Waterhouse's work and chose to paint 'Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses'. From the start I was stunned by the differences between what I had learnt in the William Bouguereau painting and this one. The palette is very limited as well, I would venture to say from my observation that I have isolated about 6 to 8 major colors, probably less that more though. So here is my first WIP.


Blocking out color and shapes.