Sketchbook: Blackbridge path: try, try and try again
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Thread: Blackbridge path: try, try and try again

  1. #1
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    Blackbridge path: try, try and try again

    Last time I posted something in a public forum it was 2004. Back then I had a full head of hair and a wicked goatee. Both are gone now.

    My artistic path is long and full of failures. Most of the damage was self-inflicted. I wish I had the wisdom to learn from my mistakes faster, but I didn't. Takes me several visits to the doctor before I realise that fire is great for cooking and entertaining friends, not so much for sticking hands into it.

    A few months ago I finally understood what I wanted to do with art and I how big of a commitment it is going to be. I realised that I needed to find a good teacher and get back to basics. So I did.

    The purpose of these posts is to share my progress with my fellow artists and learn something in the process. I'll try to dig up some of my older stuff, but I'll start by posting my latest work: cubes (lots of them) and bargues.

    Comments, critique, advice: all are welcome.

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    Last edited by Blackbridge; April 24th, 2012 at 09:22 PM.
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    Show all the planes of the cubes, even the ones you can't see! Good practice, btw

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    GaussianRaider: Thanks, man. Good point. These are drawn from observation. I'm training my eye/hand coordination as well as angle and distance estimation with these. I should start drawing them through soon. Right now I'm more interested in learning to 'feel' the planes.

    Some more cubes here:

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    Quick block-in practice (under 5 minutes for each block in) and more cubes.

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    more block-in practice drills. It's amazing how long these take. It looks like they shouldn't take longer than 20 seconds, but I can easily take 8 to 10 minutes to complete each. I set my timer on 5 minutes; this restriction forces me to improve my speed and precision.

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    Finished my third bargue. So far the second one was the hardest. I think something snapped in my head while I was working on the girl's face bargue. It snapped either in place or completely out. I can't tell. It's all worth it.

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    This is a very disciplined start for a sketchbook. I like it. I look forward seeing your progress.

    Do you mind explaining what the block in process consists of?

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    Wonderful job on the bargues man, I felt exactly the same when I was working on my second bargue too. Looking forward to seeing your cast, you'll do an awesome job no doubt!

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    yochanan: Thanks man. Jonathan got me doing gradients with charcoal. That stuff just won't stick to paper. And the worst part is when you lay it on very thick and then try to go over it again; instead of getting darker I end up scrubbing everything off down to the the white of the paper surface. I feel very nervous about the upcoming cast drawings. Thanks for the encouragement, I'll need it.

    Leonor: I'll post my answer to your question in my next reply. Need to switch comps real quick.

    Here's an update:

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    Last edited by Blackbridge; May 14th, 2012 at 12:26 AM.
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    Leonor: This block-in drill is based on another block-in exercise I picked up watching Jonathan's workshop videos. He was doing that workshop with Aaron Reid, who recommended a very cool drill: you take a newspaper or a magazine and do a simple block-in with a sharpie over a picture. So I decided to take that idea even further: I take a fashion or a muscle magazine, block-in an image by tracing over it on tracing paper, then I put the tracing paper away and do a few block-ins of the same image on a separate sheet. When I feel I got my block-in as close as I can, I overlay the original trace over my drawing to see how close I really got and what mistakes I made. I limit my time to 5 minutes per block-in (I set a timer).

    So that's it. The purpose of the exercise is twofold: it teaches you to estimate distances and angles and it pushes you to do it very quickly. You can think of it as doing a bargue, only in 5 minutes and with none of that tedious rendering. Very convenient way to practice drawing when you're on a break at work or watching TV with your family.

    Hope this answered your question. Here's an example of a typical blockin drill.

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    Good stuff here, keep it up!

    I really hear you about the charcoal, I really hated it and I actually let it get to me and hold me back for a while. However, it is possible to get that @&^*%$& to work

    I don't know your background but I had never tried much charcoal, and certainly not for detailed work. It's just a matter of lots of practice and it will come to you.

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    Craig D: Thanks for the encouragement, man. I know what you mean about being held back by the medium or some technique. I will do my best to power through it. If the results suck, so be it, at least I will be able to say that I put honest effort into it.

    That being said, I watched Jonathan lay down tones with a stick of charcoal like it was a 6B pencil. I don't know how he does these things - must be his god-like patience. But if he can do it, I can probably accomplish something too, provided that he gives me a good kick in the a$$ now and again :)

    Last edited by Blackbridge; May 16th, 2012 at 02:50 AM.
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    Thank you so much for taking the time to explain your process. That seems to be a very useful exercise which doesn't require complicated equipment.

    What's the necessary minimum studio setup to draw a Bargue? I've read you're meant to make 18X24 copies of the book plates and I assume you have to draw vertically to be able to draw in such a big size and take measurements correctly.

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    Depends on how you want to do it. You can print a high resolution bargue scan with printer set to high quality on regular printer paper, tape it to your desk, tape your drawing paper next to it and you are in business.

    Mine was a high-res bargue image printed on 8.5x11 (regular printer paper) taped to a wall next to a board with a 9x12 sheet of Strathmore 400 series (80 lb) drawing paper. I went through 2 HB pencils to complete 3 bargues.

    So nothing elaborate really. I set everything up on the wall to get my muscles used to working on a vertical surface for all my future practice. As long as you are working on a smooth and stable surface and not getting any perspective distortion, any comfortable angle will do.

    Here's Aaron Reid (one of Jonathan Hardesty's students) doing a full bargue drawing demo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLyCPGRztcs

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    Yeah, charcoal is very odd when you first try it after pencil. Make sure to keep it super sharp though! These block-in drills are great, they'll definitely help you a ton. Keep up the great work, and don't worry about the casts at all man. You did a very good job on the bargues and I feel it's really not as big of a transition as I first feared at least. You have nothing to worry about! Did you get your casts yet?

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    yochanan: oh yeah. Setting up the shadow box was the hardest part. Didn't realize how hard it would be. Took me 8 days of back and forth with Jonathan and I think I tried 6 different lightbulbs before I found the right wattage.

    Blocking in ended up being relatively easy, but I've been reworking my values over and over. It's coming together though. Here's an update: my cast progress and some more freehand perspective drills.

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    Hey man, the cast is looking really cool! Would love to see an update.

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    nice way to do it give us inspiration, so cool, man. more please./

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    Nevermindjoker: Thanks man! Btw love your work. The goddess of despair looks incredible. Your sketchbook is very inspiring too.

    Yochanan: The cast I was working on went south kinda fast, due to my poor lighting setup. We shelved it, fixed the lighting and I started on a new cast (female torso). Here's where I stopped with the cast plate and this is the latest picture I have of the new cast drawing I'm working on.

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    Fantastic studies man! I read your first post, and I really related. I have had to pick myself up off the ground a lot myself. We have more failures and falters ahead but as long as we pick ourselves up and stay focused, success is inevitable. I'll be keeping an eye out on this sketchbook.

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    Good stuff. Looking forward to seeing you progress.

    Watch your edges on the drawing of the nose casts. Everything looks very soft, although that might be the photo.
    I can tell your light source is too weak and also very orange. You might want to invest in a good daylight lamp. Art supply stores usually carry some. It will give you clearer shadows and will be better for your eyes.

    Keep it up.

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    Great fundamental studies!! It´s very important practice this, although people sometimes forget!
    Keep it up!!!

    "If you really want something you can figure out how to make it happen." M. C. Escher

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    Been a while since I updated. I'm still doing my line drills, but today I'm posting my latest finished cast. It's amazing how much I've learned in the process: did not see any of it coming.

    In case anybody is wondering, I am using Philippe Faraut casts. The man does brilliant work and I hope that someday my rendering of his work will come close to giving justice to his talent. For now I am still lacking. I didn't even realize how important it was to be inspired by the cast. After the first 100 hours, the subject in front of me and the guidance of my teacher are the only 2 reasons I still keep working.

    It took me just over a 160 hours to complete this piece. I would've been thrilled to see it a month ago, but now I'm looking at it and seeing too many flaws with it. Must be a good thing, I guess.

    What's done is done and another project is completed. Comments are welcome. Enjoy.

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    Thanks for the support and all the great advice, guys!

    Started another cast drawing. Here's the value map.

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    Wow I'm in awe of you tonal work. So goooodddd. Great work, will defiantly be stopping by regularly. I would love to see some life drawing, or quick figure sketches from you

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    Value studies are awesome!

    Keep on good work!

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    Thanks guys. The new piece is coming along much faster than my previous attempts. I'll do a few more casts and move on to life studies, so stay tuned.

    Latus: The chained angel in your portf looks incredible. How long did it take you to complete it?

    Will: Your studies and sketches are awesome! Thanks for posting them. Do you do any copies or do you focus on life studies?

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    Finished the female torso cast. Finally figured out how to handle values. This one was tough.

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    Brilliant work on the last study. I can see a marked difference in quality from the last. I'm sure it's even better in person!

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