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  1. #1
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    Mar 2009
    Vancouver, Canada
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    Is there a right or wrong way to study Bridgeman's, Hogarth, Loomis, etc?

    Is there a right or wrong way to study Bridgeman's, Hogarth, Loomis, etc?

    So far I've read a fair number of art books, and only read because I felt like I could end up studying only one book for several months which wouldn't be ideal given my school filled schedule. I felt I could read these books, absorb as much as I could then go back to the first book and begin studying with a broader range of tools/information. While I found this approach useful (especially for anatomy) I really wanted to just start drawing from Bridgeman's now while continuing to chip away at the book stack at a slower pace.

    Now that I've started I'm wondering, is there a right way and wrong way?

    I realise I shouldn't passively copy, I'm trying to analyze what I'm seeing as far as the tilt and twist of forms in space, while looking for rythm, and anatomy but how 'close' should my drawings be to Bridgeman's before I move to the next page? Should they be exact down the line, or just the general idea?

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  3. #2
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    May 2008
    SF, CA, USA
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    some thoughts on your question/quest..

    I am not sure of your goals so my answer will be kind of un-tailored and general..

    The figures in your june 27th sketchbook pages ( red, blue with construction lines) are very good - great rhythms and related shapes.. Though there is not much else to see so it's hard to tell where you are. Since you asked, I do not believe there is a right way or a wrong way to use these books but I think every beginning figure draftsman will get tons of knowledge/value out of Bridgman, Loomis and Vanderpoel. I do NOT think Hogarth's work is useful to the same level as the others mentioned above. Bridgman sort-of breaks down the structural abstraction of human parts in a great way with a focus more on the lines that construct a form than the shadows and tones. Andrew Loomis will empower you with how heads are constructed and idealized (at first) to then become your own drawing. He is such a genius - you can learn line, tonal drawings, edges, rhythms - so much from him! Finally Vanderpoel's little figure drawing book is a useful anatomical and figure addition to this group and his subtle, tonal work and discussions about light and the human for are valuable. I still think ( more and more probably) of the Loomis head when I am beginning a head drawing/ and the Loomis figure mannequin when I am doing quick studies..

    A few you might add to your list in no perfect order:
    1. Robert Barrett's figure drawing book - excellent tonal studies!
    2. Henry Yan's figure drawing book - beautiful tonal figures and head: loose yet .. very right!
    3. Tony Ryder's Figure Drawing book - to learn more about careful graphite figure construction - some amazing and beautiful work here ! ( disclamer, I have studied with Henry and Tony!)
    4. Barbara Bradley's Drawing People book ( another AAU teacher like Henry though she has sadly passed away) - clothed figure drawing is the focus of this book - good as a next study..

    finally I will say it sounds like you get it - how to use master works to study from - to really think and analyze what they are doing, how they are doing it - and to emulate that in your studies of their work vs just kind of blindly copying it.. game on !
    Last edited by kevinwueste; January 14th, 2010 at 11:15 AM.

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  5. #3
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    May 2008
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    It's a good idea to focus on what's relevant at the easel. If you feel that your piece is lacking in form and structure, read up on Bridgeman. If you feel you your piece lacks a believable sense of light or technical rendering, read up on Ryder. Don't force yourself to focus on one book and read it cover to cover, it will be a greater disservice to you. Art books are tricky; they're extremely limited in what they can teach you, but they can convey so much. The goal of these books is to arm you with a new pair of eyes to research and practice the concepts and techniques presented to you in the book. A book can only say, "This is what I'VE found through MY OWN personal investigation into the figure, and THIS is how I go about approaching it." THAT is how you should approach it. Don't reject past knowledge or skills and go about drawing with pure copying of a particular artist's process or 'steps.' Make it your own.

    That being said, copying is only so productive. I would even go so far as to say don't copy Bridgeman figures at all. You want to RECONSTRUCT what was shown to you in their work and words and search for it in the studio. Otherwise you get to this place where a bunch of students hero-worship these artistic idols, read these books over and over, and when they actually get to the easel to do anything they're completely lost. They copy, they don't research or understand. Copying teaches you pretty much nil- it has its worth but its limited. RECONSTRUCTING however gives you a paradigm shift. Combing copying and reconstructing together, and you get a Michelangelo. Sort of see where I'm getting at? Learn the CONCEPTS and use them. Don't copy an artist's 'technique.'
    "Art is the invisible, rendered visible, wrought with love"
    - Frank Mason

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  7. #4
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    Apr 2009
    Northern California
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    Great responses - I can't add much because they said it all. The only thing I think to keep in mind is Loomis and Bridgman did not develop their insight and skill by copying drawing books by "Smith" and "Jones" - they worked from life and they worked large - not in sketchbooks. Studying them is great - learn what you can and then apply it.
    What would Caravaggio do?

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