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    Cast drawing?

    Reading up on the atelier style of art instruction, cast drawing sounds interesting. But after learning how much those casts cost, it's also a little impractical.

    Are there any cheaper alternatives to cast drawing? I.e. substitutes for casts but will still help focus on the skills of observation in that manner?

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    Any form of life drawing should do the trick if you are as careful and percise as you would be on a cast. Copying Bargue drawings are considered a good lead up to careful cast drawing in traditional atelier instruction.

    Last edited by Zaxser; February 7th, 2009 at 04:32 AM.
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    Even though I think it can be useful for value studies, for everything else I think cast drawing's usefulness is questionable and mostly useless.

    Especially if it involves sight sized drawing, because many people claim sight sized drawing is a traditional method. Which is in my opinion complete bullocks because there's absolutely no evidence that this was ever a traditional method.

    I love whoever wrote this on amazon about a proclaimed author and book everyone recommends about "traditional methods", like they're some kind of elusive special method, which usually involves cast drawing combined with sight sized drawing.



    "Yet another opportunist example of the terribly rampant photorealism today which has nothing to do with classical art. The authors work and premise is a joke in its attempt to connect later 19th C. methods with Classical ones. Photo realism began in the 2nd half of the 19th C. with gimick methods such as the Barge, mentioned in the book. (ther's a reason why they look like black & white photo negatives). Its all a scam and while artists like Bouguereau, who sometimes painted from photos, actually had some legitimate classical training (eroding quickly in his time), the fact is no one today does because it doesn't exist. The cast drawing section in particular is totaly incorrect because proper, classical drawing prior to the mid 19th C., has to do with delineating and emphasizing form not throwing a light on something and copying the shadows with pretty, airbrush-like, rendering techniques - this in turn produces paintings that look like poster illustration. Artists following these methods while claiming their relattionship to classical training are ignorant quacks - they all follow this system because its easy to do and teach but they have unfortuanely decieved themselves as well as their students. Most all academy collections of casts today are of terrible, diluted quality anyways. Students would do much better by studying museum sculptures and the "form drawings" displayed in "Michelangelo Drawings" by Hugo chapman, I believe found here on Amazon. You'll clearly see that's he's focusing on 3-D design and structure - drawing "through" forms, not merely doing external renderings. I'm a painter tryng to study the LOST art of classical drawing/painting and want to help set the record straight."

    Last edited by Jem'ennuie; February 7th, 2009 at 01:40 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaxser View Post
    are considered a good lead up to careful cast drawing in tradition atelier instruction.
    What does the "tradition instruction" exactly mean. What makes it 'traditional' for you?

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    It's part of a system of atelier instruction that pretty much started with Charles Bargue. It's widely used in modern ateliers, mostly due to (you guessed it) tradition.

    It's only about as old as the American Civil War. Sight Size is probably a little older. The debate comes up when it's implied that this is how Raphael and Da Vinci drew, which is almost certainly bullshit.

    Happy now?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaxser View Post
    It's part of a system of atelier instruction that pretty much started with Charles Bargue. It's widely used in modern ateliers, mostly due to (you guessed it) tradition.

    It's only about as old as the American Civil War. Sight Size is probably a little older. The debate comes up when it's implied that this is how Raphael and Da Vinci drew, which is almost certainly bullshit.

    Happy now?
    ya =)

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    Those 50-hour long cast studies do serve a purpose, but I'm uncertain that the time spent engaging in the sight-size method is at all efficient. Completing scores of these drawings will certainly improve the artist's ability to see space and tonal relationships accurately as well as build up a great degree of zen-like patience while working through the tedium.

    That being said, I think every artist should try this as an exercise a few times for both the experience of doing it and to realise it's both harder and easier than it looks.

    I also don't think that it has to be a museum quality sculpture. This aspect of the tradition is more from the idea that beautiful things make the best art. An unpainted garden gnome or bust of Elvis will serve the same purpose.

    There are a great many traditions in traditional drawing -- find the one that works best for you and run with that one.

    ~Richard

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    One can learn a lot from cast drawing. Any white matte complex object will do the job nearly as good (you can get something fit for this excersize for less than a buck)... White because it gives you the biggest value range and a lot of bouncelight, and matte because you don't get confused by speculars.

    No texture, no local color, no speculars. Perfect for learning the basic principles of lighting in detail. Understanding basic lighting is a lot more complex than most people think. Transfering it onto a canvas is even harder.
    just because you can copy it doesn't mean you understand it. The difference will show when working from imagination.

    You should focus on Values, Edges, Coreshadows, Cast shadow construction, bouncelight, color temperature and all other lighting effects which are just so much easier to observe on a matte white surface.
    Also try different types of lighting (pointlight, sunlight, diffuse light from a window).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaxser View Post
    It's part of a system of atelier instruction that pretty much started with Charles Bargue. It's widely used in modern ateliers, mostly due to (you guessed it) tradition.

    It's only about as old as the American Civil War. Sight Size is probably a little older. The debate comes up when it's implied that this is how Raphael and Da Vinci drew, which is almost certainly bullshit.

    Happy now?
    I'd go further and say that the formalized, almost ritualized sight-sizing practiced by the ateliers coming from the Gammel/Lack lineage is less than 100 years old.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaknafain View Post
    ... White because it gives you the biggest value range and a lot of bouncelight, and matte because you don't get confused by speculars.
    Not the biggest value range, but one that is easily reached with pencil and charcoal.


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    but, but,

    what about the quote from amazon?

    Is he right, I mean, given the source. lol.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    I'd go further and say that the formalized, almost ritualized sight-sizing practiced by the ateliers coming from the Gammel/Lack lineage is less than 100 years old.
    I was aware that Bargue's method and sight size combined later, but the whole, Bargue to Cast to Life sequence sarted with Bargue.

    I go to google. I put in Gammel. I get garbage. I put in Gammel and Lack, I get this.


    Hunter said, "One of the most important things he taught me was working sight-size. I had never heard of it before - none of us had ever heard of it before. It was most enlightening and most enabling. It was the single most important thing."

    This corroborates what you said. Are there any sources on how it became so popular?

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    Hmmm...interesting.

    I've had my share of experience with sight_size, and Bargue drawings over the last year and a half. I'm by no means an expert on it, because I still have alot to learn but the atelier I attend does have these things as a part of the required curriculum.

    I think there are benefits to the sight-size method. It makes your eye alot sharper in regards to measuring accuracy, and it makes sure that the artist is infact making careful observations of the subject. Some people say it's mechanical, which is legit at some points, but it is a valid approach. The patience it encourages is really helpful.

    As for the history behind cast drawing and sight_size? I think that cast drawing has it's genesis in the old master pracitce of drawing from classical sculpture. Rubens and others wrote about that so we know it was praticed in the old days. Sight_size is another thing. As far as I know there is very little, if any, evidence of sight_size in classical academies or ateliers prior to the
    20th century. It seems to be primarily a creation of contemporary ateliers. I'm open to seeing any documents that show otherwise though.

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    I'd like to hear more people's thoughts on this.

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    Copying from the flat, then moving to casts, then to the figure is far older than Bargue. Of course, Bargue to casts to life started with Bargue- but Bargue introduced his plates as a reaction to the plates students were studying, which he (and others) felt had grown inadequate over the years. As for when sight-size came about, it's difficult to say precisely. I believe there's a print by Durer of a strange grid contraption that is effectively the same thing as sight-size, so the concept has likely been around for a long time. I'd agree with Elwell about the origin of the "ritualized" sight-size we often see today (that might be the perfect word for it).

    Personally, I think sight-size is a valuable tool to have in your arsenal. It's definitely valuable as a training tool, especially for beginners. I question the absolute necessity of taking it as far as some of the ateliers do today (there are other paths to take), but it has certainly produced some nice results, and there are lots of artists who are perfectly happy and/or successful doing nothing else. It's hard to question that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    I'd go further and say that the formalized, almost ritualized sight-sizing practiced by the ateliers coming from the Gammel/Lack lineage is less than 100 years old.
    Some of the florence ateliers for instance, clearly cite gammel,
    I echo your post,
    it's just a bit too rigid.

    ---

    The reason Bargue created the plates, it seems, was because a lot of the ones in circulation at that time were "of poor taste", and there wasn't really a definitive drawing course.
    The government later used most of the course's plates for their curriculum I believe.

    (extrapolated from the book on Bargue by Gerald M. Ackerman).

    Last edited by Helioth; February 16th, 2009 at 03:59 PM. Reason: no naming and shaming
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    What Zakna said.

    Also, to add to the discussion about whether the method is historical: They had 2D plates to copy before Bargue. All schools also had collections of sculptures and casts to study from. Whether they were used in the same way as casts are in modern ateliers, I do not know. But I know that Gerome (who asked Bargue to create his drawings), when he was a student, spent many years copying different plates similar to the Bargue drawings. He and Bargue created the new set of plates because he felt the old ones were.. well, old.

    GurneyJourney post on plaster casts

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