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I know you're looking for criticism but I'm afraid I can't give any since I don't think I have the credibility to do so.
However, I just wanted to drop a line and tell you I really love your work! You have had such vast improvement over such a short span of time, and your studies, especially your quick gesture sketches, are inspiring me to want to return to pursuing art (I left it as my intended major a couple of years ago in favor of something else). I can see so much potential here; you have the skill, the willingness to learn, you're open to criticism, and you're very humble. =) I don't see anything against you at all.
Please do keep posting! It really is great inspiration to us lesser people out there. x) Good luck with your ongoing endeavors~ =D
Tumbling Teru: Thank you so much for your words. They meant a lot to me -- and encouragement such as this means to me as much as constructive criticism (what does not mean much to me is simply empty or condescending flattery -- and I know this was by no means the case here). I've been working hard and hopefully learned a few things since I started taking classes a few months ago -- one of the things I learned was that there is nothing as important as practice. The other thing I learned, however, was that it is not a matter of simply practicing -- we've all heard the advice: "draw, draw, draw"; this is just half of the story -- but what really matters is *how* you practice. There's good practice and bad practice, and repeating the same old habits will keep you almost in the same place, since bad practice simply reinforces itself. Learning how to learn -- learning how to study -- is, I think, the hardest and also the most rewarding aspect of the whole process. I am still figuring it out, but looking back now I can see I at least know some of the questions to ask, even though the answers are still beyond me. And that, I think, is a start.
Here is another portrait in oil from life. The drawing is off in many ways, and so are some of the shapes and edges, but I left it with the impression that I am slowly beginning to understand what seemed to me most difficult: color and temperature shifts. In the middle of the painting session, after returning from one of the breaks, I suddenly *saw* the greens here and there popping between the relatively warm, rosy complexion of the model. Being able to see it felt very good; now I need to learn how to translate it to the canvas. Again sorry for the bad picture; I still haven't figured out how to eliminate the glare with the poor lighting set up I have here...
Nice works! To me, edges are the least of your worries. Most students overthink them because they somehow think through manipulation of edges alone, illusion of form happens. The real secret is accurate colours sitting next to each other. It would be nice to err on the softer side for contours (because it's always easier to sharpen an edge then blur one) but that's a picky, detail oriented crit.
You seem to be going for way too much information at one time. Simplify, simplify, simplify. I can't stress that enough. Look for big shapes and big relationships, that's the way to an accurate likeness: NOT getting the subtle gradation of reflected colour as it swings under the blah blah blah. It's about a strong drawing. Try working every phase of the composition with the same amount of vigilance - that includes the drawing.
One way to help that, would be to limit your value range. Try 'premixing' two darks, a midtone, and two highlights (a five value scale, using your choice of flesh colour) and place them on the planes of the model accordingly. Use big blocks of colour to understand the planes underneath the form. Don't mix the colours and get all blendy as you paint directly on the surface. What's going on with the last head's shoulders makes more sense the whole rest of the painting, and I mean that in the most encouraging way. As the shadow of the shoulder goes from a dark, to a lighter dark to a midtone on the front of his chest, is exactly how you should approach this. Sorry for the length here. You have such great potential! The drawings are very strong - bring that knowledge to your paintings.
"Art is the invisible, rendered visible, wrought with love"
- Frank Mason
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Oruhito: Thanks very much for the critique and sound advice. I agree completely with you. Sometimes, when trying to learn how to be more sophisticated with colour and temperature shifts, I forget that clear values is really what's more important; it is what gives us our first read. Thanks for reminding me of that.
Here is a couple of quick drawings from life. First one is a 5 min pose and the second one is about 15 minutes.
Last edited by bkkm; May 3rd, 2010 at 01:33 PM.
Marian Rowling: Good to see you again here! Thanks for the words. I've been trying my best to improve.
Here are a few quick sketches. First poses are 2 minutes. Last one is 5 min. Need to be more conscious about my line quality without losing spontaneity. A delicate balance...
Norkagar: Thanks for the visit! At the moment I am not taking any uninstructed workshop (but I was until very recently). I agree with you; I also learned a lot at them, trying to apply all I see in class, and I hope to be going to another one soon. For now, though, my strategy has been to take classes with teachers whose approach to drawing I identify with. This way, I am not really *forced* to draw like the teacher; rather, I draw the way I want to improve at, and have the teacher to help me achieve this goal. That was a mistake I made in the beginning (i.e., a few months ago), when I started taking drawing classes: being exposed to too many, contradictory approaches. Now I've made my choice, and hope to be as exposed to the one approach I have stronger affinity with as much as I can. Oh, and next time you see me, do say hellol!
Here are a few drawings from life. First one is a 5 minute pose. Last ones, all on one sheet, are 25 (standing pose), 25 (knee study), and another 5. Critiques are always welcome. The more honest, the better. All I want is to improve. Thanks for looking!
I am slowly beginning to see how sensitive many of the old masters were to even the slightest variations in value. Even the faintest specks of tone -- which I used to think were owing mostly to the poor quality of the black and white reproductions I had access to -- point to changes in form, however subtle, and/or anatomical landmarks. I hope to do more studies keeping an eye on that. Here is one after Rubens.
Hi Brenno your last life drawings look really solid and have a good feeling of weight to them. The master study is also beautiful. Your improvement is really inspiring to me and I thank you for the help and advice you have given me. I always look forward to seeing what you've been working on I only regret that I cannot provide you with any help myself, other than support, encouragement and admiration.
Marian: Thank you for the kind words. I, too, am enjoying following your progress. Keep it up!
Here are a few quick life drawings. They're mostly 5 minutes poses, with perhaps a couple of 2's in between. At some point, the lighting set up was changed and I found it a great opportunity to experiment a bit with silhouette and rim light...
Here is also a full-figure oil painting I did last week. I couldn't do much in the time I had (5~ hours; yes, I am slow), so I focused mostly on simplifying the shapes and forms...
Last edited by bkkm; May 22nd, 2010 at 12:36 AM.
A few gesture drawings (2 and 3 minutes poses) and a recent oil painting. The painting has many obvious problems, but while I was working on it something clicked, and I've got an insight that I hope to investigate further into next time. For now it is so guttural and quite vague that it is not worth trying to describe. Let's see what comes out of that...For now, let this even vaguer note to self suffice here.
I recognize those russian drawings ! I am a big fan of them too.. I must say ur gesture drawing is getting reallly good! What have u been eating haa..? Very inspiring to see ur improvement and progress...
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Hey Brenno lovely updates and great progress. I think some of your gestures have great flow in them. I've been watching a little Vilppu so I can fully appreciate just how difficult it is to capture these lines. I'm wondering what makes you choose your other drawings to study as you seem to pick really great ones. Are they just drawings you like and admire or are they part of your course. Really looking forward to seeing your next painting as I can see the improvement in each one.
Hi Marian, thanks for stopping by again While I don't have any updates right now, I thought I'd try to answer your questions because they touch on something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It has to do with how one develops, with how one learns how to learn and to ask questions...
You asked me how I choose the drawings I study from, whether I pick ones I admire or whether they are a part of my course. Let me attempt a slightly less direct, though hopefully more comprehensive answer here. I imagine it's going to be a rather lengthy answer (I know myself), but hopefully not a waste of time to read it. Bear with me as you go
When I started taking formal classes in drawing and painting back in January this year, I had made up my mind to learn not only how to draw or paint, but also to learn how to learn. I knew that I'd only have a limited time here, where I could take classes, and would soon have to return to a place where no such kind of instruction was available. Mainly because of that (but also, as you may have already noticed, because the whys and wherefores behind things --and all their philosophical premises and consequences-- exert a powerful fascination on me), I wanted to learn how to learn, which is the other side of learning how to teach or to study -- in other words, I wanted to know how to study by myself, to keep working and building upon whatever little I learned here, once I could no longer take classes. And what I learned is that to a great degree it boils down to learning how to ask more and more specific questions. The process of learning how to learn is, significantly enough, very similar to the process of learning how to draw, or paint, or, I would venture, anything else (my formal education is in literature and philosophy, and pretty much the same applies there).
In the beginning, you have only a vague idea (if any) of what attracts to you a particularly activity, or approach, or painting or drawing. You may simply think to yourself: "I like it", or "it's beautiful, I want to learn how to do that", without knowing exactly why you like it or find it beautiful. I remember, for instance, my very first classes with Vilppu, back in January. Something about the way he did his hatchings and cross-hatchings in his figures attracted me. At one point, as looked over my shoulder and he saw me struggling with a drawing from the model -- I was clumsily trying to give volume to it by hatching -- , I dropped my pencil, I asked him what was the secret to good hatching. He smiled and said there was no "secret", in the same way he is wont to say there are no "rules", just "tools". So I asked why my hatching didn't look like his, but instead (pointing at my drawing), like *that*. He didn't really *answer* my question, but instead showed it by drawing on my drawing. Looking back at it, and at the way I asked the question, I see it was a rather awkward and vague question -- the "secret" to good hatching. At that moment I knew something attracted me, something puzzled me and intrigued me, yet my own thoughts about what it could be were too generic, too blurred, and I could not come up with a better question. It's no surprise all he could do was smile and show me, instead of articulating an answer. As time passed, as I took a few more classes, looked at a few more drawings, I began to understand a little better what attracted me about that and similar kinds of drawings. I began to understand a little better what my question was. It was not simply that I "liked" "good hatching" (whatever both expressions mean: they are too subjective, too generic, too vague, to be of any real use), but that there were a few specific characteristics in a certain kind of drawing that led me to prefer that kind over others, and to classifying this hatching as "good" or as "better" than others which did not share in those characteristics. I began to refine my own questions, and moved from vague, generic terms such as "good hatching" and "like" to something more specific: I began to realize that what attracted was a certain sense of "rhythm" in the lines that composed what I called "good hatching". "Good hatching", then, became "rhythmical hatching". A progress, something less vague, you see. I could now come to a question that was a little less vague: what was the secret to "rhythmical hatching", or rhythmical lines how did one go about it, instead of drawing lines that lacked "rhythm"? But if this question proved to be an advanced over my first one, it was still a bit too vague. For, what is, exactly, "rhythm"? I can say that a certain drawing is "full of rhythm" -- and it certainly sounds a bit more authoritative than simply saying that I "like" it -- but "rhythm" is still a word that lends itself to quite a few definitions. "Rhythm", like "beautiful", "true", "right", is one of those words charged with positive meanings that are sometimes useful as rhetorical devices, but that, in the end, don't really give us much concrete information about that which it refers. Again, time passed a bit more, I kept pondering on that, and I began to realize that what I was calling "rhythm" was actually a certain way of leading the eye across and throughout a drawing by means of the arrangement of lines. It had to do with "composition" (and at the same time, having thought so much about it, and refined the terms in which I was thinking, the word "composition" -- also one of those big, vague words -- came to me as something more concrete, more useful, in a sense). Rhythm, I figured, was the ability of an arrangement of lines within a figure to lead the way from one place to the other, it was a compositional device, and as such it gave unity, internal unity as it were, coherence, to the figure. It helped tie its many parts together (like, in literature, a good plot does with the many heterogeneous events of which it is composed). That was, then, I thought to myself, why the drawings that have that characteristic -- that rhythmical quality -- seemed so pleasing to me, that's why I "liked" them. Now the vague words with which I started, in a very clumsy way, my inquires, began to acquire more concrete qualities, began, in a way, to make sense. Now I could ask a much more helpful and more specific question: how does one lead the eye across a drawing? How does one tie together, by means of either line or tone, the many parts that compose a drawing into a coherent, harmonic whole? I then began to see relations between drawing/painting and music -- the way that many different themes are woven together in the same piece, even the way that dissonance and -- the contraponto -- work to highlight the overall unity by means of contrast (same thing happens in drawing, as it does in a good story, for example). Furnished with these specific questions, questions that seemed to point me into a clear direction (unlike saying simply that I "like" something because it looks "beautiful"), I knew what to look for in the drawings I admired. I knew, in a way, *why* I admired them, what I admired in them. I knew, then, what to study, and had only to figure out the best way *how* to study. This is the stage I find myself in right now. Of course, my original questions, which have become more and more concrete, more and more specific as time went on, may still become even more specific. Maybe I will realize that I am still being a bit too vague. There is -- hopefully -- always room to improve, to make new discoveries and keep the old truths always fresh, always open for revision, if need be.
Well, Marian, this is my ridiculously long answer to your question. It all boils down to learning how to make better and better questions (which in its turn helps you in finding answers that might be a little more satisfactory than the previous ones; though I am not sure there is such a thing as a final answer here...) Maybe many people go through all this without articulating in words this whole process. Maybe they simply "learn", without realizing that they have learned or the whys and wherefores behind it. I don't know. I hope this long-winded answer was able to help, rather than confuse
Last edited by bkkm; May 31st, 2010 at 05:17 PM.
Here is a monochrome oil sketch after Velazquez's Aesop. Velázquez is really a master of tonal composition, and I feel I've learned a lot doing this. I can already see a few problems here and there, a few tonal transitions that have escaped my eye, which I hope to take care of later when I add some color to it. I realize I've made old Aesop look even older, and changed his expression from a certain kind of dignity and pride in the original to a demeanor of resigned weariness in my study. I won't say the change was fully deliberate -- it wasn't --, but when I did notice it, halfway through the study, I liked what I saw and tried to push the difference a little bit, in the hope that it would still look convincing...
Last edited by bkkm; May 31st, 2010 at 10:47 PM.
Hey Brenno what a fantastic answer to my question. Thank you so much. I'm really interested in the thoughts and processes of other artists and students so reading your insight is wonderful and fascinating to me. I can also relate to what you are saying as I have just started to ask my first vague question 'why do I like this drawing or picture?'.
I think you've made a great start with your Velazquez Aesop study. I'm guessing that your earlier insight was on the right path as some of the brush marks are very expressive, and you've achieved some very soft, subtle tones. It's very appealing to my eyes and I was fortunate enough to see an exhibition of Velazquez a few years ago. I can still remember how amazed I was by his brush marks. As always you leave me wanting to see and read more.