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Thread: How many bargues did you draw and how long it took

  1. #40
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    Actually, boraz, I've learned it's far more optimistic than that!

    The human mind can learn anything that can be learned.

    But our previous knowledge will influence what knowledge we can learn next, it creates a bias. A bias is like an accent. If you are not a native of a language, you will learn to speak it with an accent. This can be fixed, but it's very hard! While a baby learning English has it very easy. Not because of the brain, but because he has no previous language creating a bias. He has no other ideas of what sounds make words getting in the way. That's why he's much faster and more effective. As a bonus, he hasn't learned to be pessimistic yet. Pessimistic ideas are bad ideas on how we learn that get in the way of learning because we believe them and act as if they were true.
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  4. #41
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    Would be nice to be as good as Michelangelo, but I'll definitely settle for excellent draftsman, if I have to. And speaking of Michelangelo, I believe he once said:

    What one has most to work and struggle for in painting is to do the work with a great amount of labour and sweat in such a way that it may afterward appear, however much it was laboured upon, to have been done almost quickly and almost without any labour, and very easily, although it was not.

    and also:

    If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all.
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  5. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leonor View Post
    Actually, boraz, I've learned it's far more optimistic than that!

    The human mind can learn anything that can be learned.

    But our previous knowledge will influence what knowledge we can learn next, it creates a bias. A bias is like an accent. If you are not a native of a language, you will learn to speak it with an accent. This can be fixed, but it's very hard! While a baby learning English has it very easy. Not because of the brain, but because he has no previous language creating a bias. He has no other ideas of what sounds make words getting in the way. That's why he's much faster and more effective. As a bonus, he hasn't learned to be pessimistic yet. Pessimistic ideas are bad ideas on how we learn that get in the way of learning because we believe them and act as if they were true.
    Disclaimer: I have to call "Nerd Alert" again.. Feel free to skip this if you're not interested.

    Yeah, I totally agree. in my previous post I was just talking about the biological side of the matter.
    But neuroscientists have known for decades that the environment (meaning: everything that happens outside the person) plays a role as important as the genes or biology.
    Especially, the "external reinforcements" have a key role. What's an external reinforcement? Simply put, are "things" and "situations" that push the kid (or the adult) to keep doing something.

    Here an example: a little kid starts drawing. The parents encourage him/her to keep doing that, saying they are proud of him. The kid feels rewarded by those praises, and keeps practicing. The more the practice, the better. The kid improves, and that leads to more praises, that lead to the kid being more motivated to keep pushing. He or She is bound to become skilled.
    Now there is another kid: he or she starts drawing. The parents don't say anything about it, maybe because they think "it's just a kid's drawing, nothing to fuss about!".. Maybe the kid keeps doing it, but it doesn't give him the same "rewarding feeling". Maybe someone along the way(a teacher for example) starts criticizing his drawing ability (this leads to bad feelings such as shame), while some other topic (such as science) leads to praises from teachers and parents... the kid will simply drop the activity that led to the bad feelings and will pursue the activity that led to the praises.

    Sadly that's what happened to me... I used to draw a lot when I was a kid, enjoying it a great deal. Then, in middle school my art teacher openly made fun of my drawings multiple times.. I became "the one who can't draw", while my math and science grades were great. Add that my father is an engineer who thinks that science it's all that matters and drawing is a "kid activity" and you'll get the whole picture.

    Regarding your discussion about "biases", that's what I was talking about when I mentioned "unlearning the mistakes", in my previous post. Regarding accents, that's funny because that's the other thing I've been doing for many years. My first language is Italian, but I've been practicing english for 5 years. The accent is my main focus right now. During this time I managed to completely change my accent, and I'm pretty close to the American one. I'm still not perfect, and I still have hours of practice in front of me, but I feel I'm on the right track. Technically speaking a foreign accent is a "mistake", because you pronounce words in the wrong way, using the wrong basic sounds (the ones from your native language).
    You are right when you say that it's because of previous knowledge: a baby doesn't know how to pronounce any sound, so he acquires the ones that are all around him. An adult learning a second language has already acquired a full system of sounds (his first language system), so "it's easier" for his brain to use "what's already there". Unfortunately for us, the brain tends to work through "shortcuts" and symbols, and tends to use what it already knows.. it's a strategy to conserve energy.
    When you practice something (drawing, or accents, or a playing the piano) you are actually pushing your brain cells to do something they have never done before. The brain cells are connected in very complicated networks by their branches. Basically, when you learn to do something new, the brain cells have to build new connections between each other. This is relatively easy for a very young brain because, as I said before, the baby's body is full with hormones and other stuff that helps this "branching" process. The adult brain already has a great deal of connections (let's say, it already has the connections for the person's first language), but it doesn't have connection for the foreign accent, so it's easier for the brain to use the ones that are already there, instead of building new ones. Add that the adult doesn't have all those hormones and stuff that helps the cells to branch out, and you'll get why it's much harder to learn something when you are an adult.
    Regular practice can change that, because if you push you brain cells hard enough, they develop new branches. But you have to be motivated to keep practicing. Usually adults are not that motivated. They have preconceived notions about themselves such as "I can't draw, I don't have the talent. You have to be born with it", or "it's impossible to learn a new accent", and things like that. Obviously this mindset will lead the person to stop practicing, and hence his brain cell won't get the "work out" they need to actually learn the activity. More over, in order to learn something new, you have to be ready to admit you DON'T KNOW how to do something, and you have to be really open to the idea that you know little or nothing about something and have to be willing to accept someone else's ideas and/or tutoring. Most of the time this very first step is the hardest one: adults tend to eschew the idea that they don't know something, or how to perform a task, because, as adults, they "are supposed" to know.

    @Blackbridge: Unfortunately for us, to be a great artist you don't just need practice, you need something else that's not been explained by science. You can learn to be as technically skilled as Michelangelo. You can learn how to reproduce the Sistine chapel but the hardest thing is to come up with the original idea. You can learn how to play the piano faster and faster, you can became technically perfect, but that doesn't mean you'll become Mozart.
    What I'm trying to say is: we can perfect our technique, we can became photocopy machines, but unfortunately that doesn't mean we are gonna come up with ideas for a great work of art. look at students at the Florence academy or at Angel's , they are very skilled, and they can reproduce things almost with a camera-like quality, but how many of them are able to invent a new Sistine Chapel?
    Anyway, I think you are on the right track to became really skilled at drawing and painting. You obviously have the drive to push yourself to the limit (so you'll brain cells can get the work out they need), and you are finally channelling this motivation on the right practice, since you are following Jonathan Hardesty teaching. He has been there before you, so he knows how hard it is.
    Keep pushing man!

    Again: sorry for the (very) long post and for the ultra-technical discussion.. I'll try to stop being a nerd
    Last edited by boraz; May 12th, 2012 at 11:11 AM.
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  7. #43
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    boraz: Thanks for the thorough explanation. I've been doing my own research over the years on the topic of learning; and it's nice to see my layman understanding of the main concepts being confirmed by a professional.

    My current formula for success is hours of practice + ample supply of glutamine. Hope it will eventually equal good art :)
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  8. #44
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    I like the way Bougie explains it.


    "Sight size is very useful in many ways but it has it's limitations. It's a good teaching tool and we insist that everyone use it because it sharpens the beginner's eye for proportion relatively quickly and provides an objective context in which to work. It's good for use int he studio in a controlled setting, but it's impractical for landscape painting or making studies from life on the fly. I've also noticed that for some students who are naïve (in their drawing experience) or of a strong logical mindset, sight size gets in the way of seeing when they reach a certain point in their development. They will use the plumb line too much and their eye not enough."

    "You're right about the shortcomings of sight-size, it's strictly for working in controlled situations, and it does breed a dependence on the model. I'm going to try having students do more work from flat copy of expressive figures, figures in motion, and so on, to try to bridge the gap between the study of nature and its application to making pictures."¹ "


    Sight-size really helps people who have issues with either proportions or rendering of form, what it doesn't do is teach you anatomy or teach you how to fill in the gaps of a living and moving scene, it's purely a method of forcibly getting people to see what's actually there and teaching them how to render dark and light. It's studio practice, it works as long as there is a model, and part of that carries over to work from life or concept work, but do not expect to do lots of bargues and then be able to render concept art like that, it's purely for still life and a stepping stone to concept art.

    I think also that most schools don't seem to really know why they teach people bargues, they just do it because they believe such and such, it's striking how some people are able to make amazing bargues but this doesn't translate to their other work at all. Maybe they rely too much on bargues or maybe the schools don't know how to get the most out of the method or don't understand what the actual point of them is. I'm kinda torn on if it's really useful in it's current form.
    Last edited by Bastioni; May 14th, 2012 at 02:18 AM.
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  9. #45
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    Bastioni: Good input on sight-size. Thank you for that. The conversation though is not about sight size. In fact, it is not necessary to do bargues sight-size nor was it the original method. Judging by the original bargue plates, they were intended as an exercise in blocking in and understanding simple value, while training the beginner to analyse and simplify with precision and control.

    For example, I only did my first bargue with plumb lines. The second one I did sight size, but without the plumb lines, and the third was done completely without sight-size: the 2 images weren't even vertically aligned.

    However, the requirement for all 3 was that my drawings were supposed to be reasonably accurate copies of their respective bargue plates.

    The thread's purpose is to get everyone's input on how many bargues they've done during their training and if they kept drawing bargues after the moved on to more advanced practice. Sorry about the confusion.
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  10. #46
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    Blackbridge, I thought more about your original question, and I think you are supposed to do bargue copies until you feel comfortable applying the skills you were practicing with the bargues, to "harder" situations. Let me explain:
    Let's say you are practicing the bargues to improve your ability to judge distances between points, or angles between lines (let me leave out value from the argument for a sec). So you practice these skills copying a 2D image, where everything is already flat, and you can focus on the skill you wanna practice without adding to it.
    When you switch to cast drawing you'll basically train the same skills (distances between points, angles, tilts, and so on), but it's gonna be harder, because you don't have a 2D picture in front of you, you have a 3D object. You won't have actual lines to copy, you'll have hard (and not-so hard) edges, you won't have points, you'll have to memorize landmarks on the cast, and so on. As you can imagine, it's gonna be harder, but you'll basically train the same skills, only on a harder level. So I don't think you'll have to do more Bargues once you switch to casts; it's like going to the gym: the very first day you go, maybe you're too weak to do bench presses, so they have you do push ups, that work the same muscles, but are easier. When you get stronger, you do bench presses, with heavier weight as you get stronger. Once you get to be able to bench press 220 lbs, you won't even think about doing push ups.
    Regarding the sight size argument, I think that copying the plates the same size is easier for your brain, because you just have to judge the actual distance between 2 points and reproduce that. If you want to enlarge the plate, your brain not only has to judge distances, but it has to "convert" the judge distance to the scale you wanna draw, so it's a more complicated process.Besides, copying the plate the same size makes the correction process so much easier.
    I would say, when you switch to cast drawing, you'll probably start copying the cast the same size as the original. So if you want keep doing bargues while you are practicing on casts, you could copy the plates not using the same scale, so you could practice proportional sighting as well, while the cast drawing practice is taking care of improving the skills you already got with the first bargues (distance, angles,and so on).
    Last edited by boraz; May 14th, 2012 at 12:16 PM.
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  12. #47
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    boraz: Thank you for the insight. It totally makes sense. Whenever one learns something, it's best to isolate the more complicated parts and practice them over and over. In this case, we are isolating the procedure of judging and reproducing angles and distances.

    I definitely like your idea of drawing scaled bargues. I haven't heard of anyone doing that; it sounds like a good exercise.

    What I meant by saying that I was not drawing the bargues sight-size, was that the original plate and my drawing were not perfectly side by side; although, the final output was still an exact copy of the original (to the best of my abilities): same size, same values, same everything. It's just that the placement was not according to the sight-size procedure.
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  13. #48
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    "isolating the difficulties" is a learning method used in music practice all the time.. let's say you want to learn a very difficult guitar solo, there will be parts you already know how to play, and some passages that are still too fast or too difficult. Guitarists just "isolate" the 3-4 note passage that's difficult for them and practice it over and over, until it becomes easy. Repeating the whole solo every time would be a "waste of time", because they would have spend time repeating stuff they already know.
    I think it's a good idea to isolate difficulties in drawing too: if your problem is gauging angles or judging distances, you wanna focus on those, without being overwhelmed by value, color, scaling the distances, or "converting" a 3D object in 2D. If we can't even judge the distance between 2 points on a piece of paper, it's no use trying to copy from life. it's like trying to play a piece from Bach without knowing how to put your hand on the keyboard.
    Anyway, I suggest you read this post, there's a lot of useful information : http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=264765

    And I also suggest you read "the complete artist's guide to figure drawing" by Anthony Ryder.. it's the best explanation of every skill we are prancing with the Bargues.. proportions, angles, point to point measuring..
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  14. #49
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    I just started my first ever bargue copy yesterday. So far I'm "done" with the simplified outline and fairly close to finishing the internal (simplified) lines. I have about 4 hours on it thus far. It's more or less my first time doing sight/size (in the true sense, at least) and I've actually been really impressed by how accurate it is. Sometimes I'll make a dot using the sight/size method and then go and measure it with a ruler and find that it's right on the money. It's pretty amazing, because doing it that way doesn't seem like it'd be too accurate.

    The reason I decided to do one is because I feel like I still need a lot more work on the very basics of seeing, drawing, and construction and, also, because I saw that Picasso did one when he was young. I'm not a fan of Picasso's work but I found it inspiring that you can do these universally-applicable exercises and not necessarily end up doing very academic work (which I don't really want to do.)

    I'm copying plate 49, which I think is a portrait of the young Julius Caesar.
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  16. #50
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    Jacob: Way to go, man. Congrats on starting your bargue!

    It's pretty amazing when you get the placement of a dot just right without much reference on the image, isn't it? Bargues are a strange exercise to me: I'm glad I did them and I learned a lot in the process, but it's slightly discouraging how after hundreds of hours of practice all you get to show is a picture that has been already done by someone else and now you have a copy of it which you can't even put into your portfolio. That being said, I think that working on that copy will pay off handsomely later on.

    Btw, love your work, especially 'The Poet': that guy looks like he's going to yell at me in a second or two - so cool!
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