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I spent more than an hour on each of these, thanks to endlessly switching out brushes and an unhelpful tendency to start in on details too early. (I'm going to choose something with less detailed faces next time in an attempt to combat that urge.)
1. Gentileschi - Self-Portrait as a Lute Player
The economy of the background lends focus to the figure. Within the figure, there are areas of detail and contrast throughout, but the movement of the gentle, repeated curves — the lute, her wrists, the folds of the fabric, the neckline of her dress, her décolletage, the wrap on her head, even her curls — serve as paths leading the viewer back to her face.
2. Leyendecker - Record Time, Cool Summer Comfort
(I tried to hurry myself on the left figure rather than spend forever doing details and attempting to replicate brushstrokes and entirely missing the point of the exercise.) There's so much movement in this, thanks to his brushstrokes. I know Leyendecker did a lot of advertising work, and I'm assuming that factored into his tendency to use sparse backgrounds. Despite the economy of the background, there's still visual interest thanks to the visible brushstrokes. That carry over lends the piece a feeling of unity and balance, and the high contrast negative spaces really make the figures pop.
3. Chop Suey - Hopper
Tried to spend less time on this one. It was around 45m - 1hr.
My favourite thing about this piece has always been how vibrantly contrasted the colours are — but I never grasped how rich the value contrasts themselves were. Looking at the colour piece now after doing the grayscale version, it seems obvious, but I ended up using the eyedropper a few times because I wasn’t pushing the value enough and was sure it couldn’t actually be that dark or light. (Spoiler: it was.)
Last edited by verilyvexed; March 17th, 2014 at 03:01 AM.
excellent work. you are on the right track. watch for shape contrast to see if any of your shapes stand out more than the originals. you are about 95 percent there and just need to keep pushing shapes, values then edges...keep up the great work.
Thanks for the feedback, Jason. I'll try to watch my shapes more -- I think have a tendency to want to exaggerate things.
4. Egon Schiele - Self-Portrait with Hands
I love the exaggerated way Scheile draws limbs and hands and the economy of his pieces. There's a sensibility to his stylistic choices that I hadn't grasped, having never actually copied a full piece. The thing that I noticed was a bump on his right middle finger, indicative of regular use of a writing or drawing instrument. After debating with myself over whether it was a statement in a portrait of an artist (with only the head and hands shown any consideration) or just a stylistic knuckle bump, I did a Google Image Search. Egon Schiele had a very visible callous on that hand. (File that under "knowledge you don't know how you ever lived without," am I right?) So at the very least it was representative of reality.
Last edited by verilyvexed; March 18th, 2014 at 01:31 AM. Reason: uploaded fixed image
Wow double V - these are excellent! First three digital, but how about the Schiele? Pencil and paint of some kind? Watercolor and gouache, like he used to use I believe? Odd fact - I of course have the callous on my right middle finger, but for some unknown reason there's a matching one on the left, and I never draw or write with it. Sympathetic symmetry I suppose.
Thanks so much! I'm loving your studies (browsing them in the other tab, actually). The Scheile is actually Photoshop, too -- I've got some pencil brushes I love, and I just sharpened the layer and tweaked the opacity to try to get it to match his in terms of opacity. (I used the Stumpy Pencil on the Leyendecker and the Hopper studies. I think this one was the round.) The skin was done with a watercolour brush, and the scratchier bits of the hair were done with another brush.
I'm hoping to do some in watercolour but haven't worked up the nerve yet.
Love your choices. You are in a great place already with these. Can't wait to see more.
this one is soooo very close. really beautiful. one of the things egon did was choose brushes of a very particular size or angle as he was working. There are times when one mark would suffice...or two or three marks that digitally look like one traditional mark...like on his forehead, the halftone brushstroke near the temple. economy is right...strive for that same economy.
Thanks, Jason and Grumpysaur!
5. Zodiac - Alfons Mucha
Spent about 6 hours on this. The thing that most struck me is how detailed it is. You look at a Mucha piece, you see the simplified, stylised figure, and the rest just sort of reads as background noise. But there are so many details. And it's all so deliberately done. There's no impressionism here, no suggestive daubs of paint: each line, each leaf, each whimsical curl was drawn with care. I would invite anyone who would dismiss his work as having an abundance of style over substance to spend a few hours poring over these details. Even if they aren't intrinsically symbolic, the fact that they exist at all seems to speak volumes. I didn't know much about Mucha beyond his commercial art before starting this piece, but I've found myself intensely curious about him and his more personal projects.
The point of focus here is the central figure, but it's a polar opposite to the Schiele piece. Here, the economy mostly exists within the figure:
her pale skin, haloed by repeating circles and endless loops and curls, contrasted by the dark line of her profile and the dark spot of her pupil draw the attention. The only other spots that read as negative space are the white bits at top and bottom, but there's no visual interest there. Practically everywhere else is a riot of detail, repetition, and movement. So the eye gravitates back toward the figure.
(I'm not sure what happened with that white blotch on her dress: something got shifted onto the wrong layer, likely -- I'll try to get that fixed and uploaded sometime today)
Last edited by verilyvexed; March 31st, 2014 at 12:59 AM.
Wow!! I have no idea how it's possible to make lines in photoshop and they come out looking perfect like that. Mine look like I was in a car going over potholes lol! I'm also taking an interest in Mucha, but not his drawings (or linear paintings, whatever you'd call them). In fact I just downloaded a few for my Compositions folder.
@darkstrider - Thanks! I felt like those looked super scribbly, but my eyes wanted to cross after about half a minute. The trick to lines in Photoshop (so far as I have learned) is to draw big and shrink it. I usually do more comic-style art, so the more painterly pieces feel more novel.
Can't wait to see your Mucha stuff. Did you get some of his later pieces, the Slav epic? That's the only thing I've seen so far other than some pieces that were like more realistic versions of his commercial art.
6 - Nothing to Sneeze At - Gil Elvgren
2 hours. I wanted something simpler after the Mucha. His strokes are really soft except around the exposed skin, where he uses hints of sharp but subtle shadow and detail, drawing attention to them. The bottles, dropper, and table make the image more appealing on two levels: it adds adds visual interest and balance by contrasting small, dark details with the soft, larger shape of the figure, and also adds story in a very simple, economical way. That's actually why I liked his work so much but didn't realise it: though pinups, his pieces are always posed so they tell some sort of story. It's a very simple story, and an excuse to show a bit of skin, but it's more engaging than just a picture of some random attractive lady.
Last edited by verilyvexed; April 1st, 2014 at 08:14 PM.
great job. two thoughts. I think you are a little bit high key on the flesh and bucket and secondly, be sure to focus on capturing the same emotional expression in her face. that expression is very purposefully done and I think your study will improve with getting that a little bit closer. keep it up.
Thanks for the feedback, Jason. I tried to fix the values and her expression. Still not there, but I've spent enough time on it that I think that's as close as I'm getting. Did you happen to see the #5 - Mucha? (If not, that's okay; there are a ton of errors in it! Got a little overambitious. Or a lot.)
the mucha is really solid for the time spent. you have the head tilt a little off, which is causing the mood/gesture to shift a little...but for how long you spent on it, I am not sure i could do better. You are on the right path. I want you to keep working on faces when you can, as that is an area for you to master entirely.
Keep up the great work.
A couple things I notice about the Elvgren - bucket placement is slightly off - you've got her foot in the middle of it, it should be more on the edge. And the cast shadows should have crisp edges since the objects casting them are so close to the surfaces they're being cast on. But all in all it looks good!
Back! I moved and have been without internet, but still working on studies.
@Jason Manley - Thanks! I've only really taken notice the past couple of days, but I tend to have head angles off a lot initially when doing studies. I'll watch for it more in the future.
@Darkstrider - Thanks, and you're absolutely right -- I initially had her foot too far over, then fixed that but neglected to correct the bucket. /o\
Two this time:
7 - Island of San Bartolommeo - Corot
I can't remember how long I spent on this one but figured I should try a landscape. The thing I noticed most about this was the use of the rule of thirds: he's hitting a lot of those sweet spots. It's a very simple and horizontal composition, but the irregular shapes beneath the bridges and the vertical details throughout the middle give it a lot of interest. I had a lot of trouble keeping the edges crisp in the centre portion. Part of it was the original image size being somewhat small, but mostly it was just me.
8 - Judith Beheading Holofernes - Caravaggio
There's so much movement in this picture: the rhythmic, sweeping lines in the background drapery, Judith's garments, the musculature of their arms, the pliable faces -- it's practically musical. The central focus is kept on Judith thanks to value/light; of slightly lesser importance is Holofernes, and the older woman is off to the side, nearly hidden in the shadows. I just love the expressions and drama in this one.
My eyes always have a tendency to get lost trying to work out random shapes in drapery. Any advice is appreciated!
Last edited by verilyvexed; April 27th, 2014 at 11:16 PM. Reason: uploaded edited image
the faces are close, which is great...and i know you can get closer. be sure you are capturing the exact same feeling and emotion. values are close too...but there is some variation still, especially in the various cloth, in the landscape prior, you could possibly sharpen it up just a bit, and triple check your shapes as you have made the bridges just a little bit taller I think.
I am nitpicking you as these are really good...and I want you to get to the point that they are great...which you are close...just going to keep pushing you closer.
keep up the great work.
Thanks, Jason! I think using a smaller grid for reference might help on the cloth and shapes. I'll rework those.
9 - Lucifer - Roberto Ferri
This seems a fairly straightforward composition: figure in the middle, angled slightly for visual interest. The horizon splits just below the centre point rather than in the middle, for visual interest. Highly rendered figure, economy in the background. But there are so many contrasts. The lightest part of the sky forms a triangle -- light from heaven? -- and the lighter right portion of the rock, joined with the figure, create a diagonal across the canvas. I love the metaphor in this: the figure is tilted to the left, which reads as falling.
looks like your light is a little bit softer and grayed down than the hot spots that show in the original. keep a close eye on those values and great job capturing all that anatomy too. keep it up!
Thank you, denled!
And thank you, Jason. I had the values off and tried to tweak them with an adjustment layer, but went too far in the opposite direction.
This composition follows a spiral -- the bright spot of clouds seem to push the eye up to the upper left, where it's drawn along the clouds into the trees, and on along the shore by small bits of high contrast and light value -- rocks, reflections, the detail of the animals.