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  1. #1
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    Choosing the right master to study

    I've been studying art only for a short while (since August) and I have definitely been bitten. I spend the greater portion of my available time practicing.
    I've done a few master copies of Michaelangelo studies and have found them very useful in learning about line quality, form construction, hatching and value.

    I'm interested in learning more about everything really, but with a focus on the foundations for my skill level. What I'm looking for is recommendations of what artists/which pieces would be most valuable to copy in order to learn most about the fundamentals. I know this might be a matter of taste, but I'm curious to hear your suggestions nonetheless. What do I study to learn most about line, value, color, painting technique(which I would apply in photoshop ) etc?
    Thank you in advance.

    Last edited by max xiantu; November 19th, 2006 at 12:01 AM.
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  3. #2
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    Forget this silly question, I suppose.
    I picked up The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich and it seems to answer it.

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  4. #3
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    So what's the answer? I've never done a master study myself, seems like it would require a teacher to guide me through it.

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    Well, since I can't seem to find a good teacher ... I'm forced to make certain assumptions. Looking through The Story of Art, Gombrich appears to nail down very well done pieces in both terms of composition and technique. I figure if I use the book as a guide of which pieces to study/copy/emulate and post them up in my SB, I'll invariably learn something.
    The prime difficulty in learning art thus far(for me) is that it seems to be a mystery on how to best/most efficiently learn it. Every book seems to say something different, when they say anything at all. I usually recieve the answer "Draw, draw, draw", but obviously that is not very specific, and without specificity of practice, you can practice incorrectly and greatly delay your own progress. So I rely on the occasional crits I get in my sketchbook here, and a variety of books and dvds.
    Where I found in my study of music, very many set processes that essentially guarantee progress and very many capable teachers; it seems that it is highly lacking in art (which oddly, is more tangible than music) and teaching/learning appears to rely on much guesswork. ie." Well, I've done so many things, and this appeared to work for me." The other Catch-22 is, where there are good teachers and learning programs, an amateur such as myself is not good enough/skilled enough to attend there to learn. It's more confusing than frustrating, but fortunately the passion for art pushes one through these series of blunders and obstacles.

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    I guess music is more based in recipes than art. Since you usually start by playing songs that already exist, the equivalent in art would be to say that you can draw when you can copy a Bouguereau perfectly.

    Is there a perfect way to teach music composition? I say, pick masters you admire rather than ones that are dictated to you.

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    Yup, I think Qitsune's got it right. Pick artists whom you want to emulate.

    Your observations about the differences in the ways in which music and art are taught are interesting. I'm going to have to think about that. . .

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    I dabbled in music for a long while, and though I never practiced hard enough to progress, the musicians around me were all into improvisation and greatly admired those who could pull it off. To me, learning how to do this in a controlled manner is the closest comparison I can make to the goals of a "well-rounded" artist. It's the same saying for both, you gotta learn the rules before you can break them. There are no wrong notes if the listener likes what they're hearing, and likewise for art

    for example, I've been enjoying this clip lately http://youtube.com/watch?v=kUzFbT5JT1M

    To create an equivalent skill in art, well, just remember that there will never be a handbook that can be written that tells you how to do everything in art, you need to find tools that will make your emotions and thoughts clearer in this medium.

    Last edited by darkwolfb87; November 20th, 2006 at 09:17 PM.
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  9. #8
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    I agree with a lot of what you're saying, especially "Every book seems to say something different, when they say anything at all." Yes, I can't stand "draw, draw, draw", I mock it every chance I get. Musicians seem to have been more tolerant of different ways of creating music: tonal, atonal, and the different scale constructions of different cultures, as compared to the classical and modern art dichotomy, but I really don't know enough to say much about anything on that. I've found that good books on music are just as hard to come by as good ones for visual art.
    One of the problems with art instruction is the mystique it has and the vague words used to describe various ideas and techniques. It should be possible to structure a practical method of drawing based on visual perception, without reference to "energy" and such, that's my dream. Just as underlying forms are used over and over again in music the same must exist in visual art, it must be that nonone has compiled them yet.

    "I guess music is more based in recipes than art"
    I think both have the same amount of recipe. In visual art we have the basic forms, in music the equivalent could be the major and minor scale. Both the classical tradition of visual art and the harmonic series derived western music tradition are just one possible institution out of many.

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    Well I can say the best art experience I've had was when I travelled through Europe. I went to the major museums and spent days just walking through and finding my favorite artworks. Each one I saw that I really liked, I made a study of in oil pastels - for most museums in Europe, they don't mind. I have a long list of them posted on my myspace, which you can view here:

    http://www.myspace.com/128809158

    what I went for was to only choose art that I really really liked, that moved me, and then try to capture what it was that I liked into the study. I think that's the best way to really learn from other artists. You can find good art looking through books, but you should visit lots of museums too. For books, try the biggest local library and go to their art section. Pour through the books and find something that grabs you. It's also a great way to figure out who your favorite artists are and why, and to get a greater sense for movements and progression of art history.

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    Gombrich is a good basic art history book. It will give you the framework and context that will allow you to go off in detail on the paths that interest you.


    Tristan Elwell
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    But it doesn't show enough actual art. You need to go through a very large museum and just soak it up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by max xiantu
    Well, since I can't seem to find a good teacher ... I'm forced to make certain assumptions. Looking through The Story of Art, Gombrich appears to nail down very well done pieces in both terms of composition and technique. I figure if I use the book as a guide of which pieces to study/copy/emulate and post them up in my SB, I'll invariably learn something.
    The prime difficulty in learning art thus far(for me) is that it seems to be a mystery on how to best/most efficiently learn it. Every book seems to say something different, when they say anything at all. I usually recieve the answer "Draw, draw, draw", but obviously that is not very specific, and without specificity of practice, you can practice incorrectly and greatly delay your own progress. So I rely on the occasional crits I get in my sketchbook here, and a variety of books and dvds.
    Where I found in my study of music, very many set processes that essentially guarantee progress and very many capable teachers; it seems that it is highly lacking in art (which oddly, is more tangible than music) and teaching/learning appears to rely on much guesswork. ie." Well, I've done so many things, and this appeared to work for me." The other Catch-22 is, where there are good teachers and learning programs, an amateur such as myself is not good enough/skilled enough to attend there to learn. It's more confusing than frustrating, but fortunately the passion for art pushes one through these series of blunders and obstacles.
    Sorry couldn't have left this unsaid : There is NO easy way to learn drawing, it's ALL about practice, there is no way around it.
    Just draw sketches by people whose artwork you like & would like to get a similar style to.
    I've found the styles I like most and they're the only ones I'm practicing for.

    Anyways, the bottom line is : you do not need teachers, books, tutorials or whatsoever, it's something that comes over time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corrupt
    Sorry couldn't have left this unsaid : There is NO easy way to learn drawing, it's ALL about practice, there is no way around it.
    Just draw sketches by people whose artwork you like & would like to get a similar style to.
    I've found the styles I like most and they're the only ones I'm practicing for.

    Anyways, the bottom line is : you do not need teachers, books, tutorials or whatsoever, it's something that comes over time.
    You are so completely wrong. All the basic elements of art that we have come to expect in professional work are all part of the western tradition of art. All styles of representational art are derived from these elements, and choose to emphasize certain elements while leaving out others. Because this is so it should be expected that there would be many books that would explain it thoroughly, but instead many fall short and are mostly filler with a few tips sprinkled in throughout their uselessness. This can be overcome with the help of teachers, CA is a great resource when someone doesn't have a teacher.

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    Thank you Armando.

    Allow me to expand a bit on my music study analogy.
    If in the beginning of musical training someone were to choose to study whatever they liked, without proper guidance they might for example decide Nirvana were masters worth studying. After learning many Nirvana songs, albums etc the student would have the level of mastery of Kurt Cobain on the guitar, which would not leave him as a very capable player.
    Now, if even if the student had a more developed taste, and chose to study the works of Chopin, he would still greatly benefit from a teacher who could guide him through his musical development that he may properly study and perform Chopin. The level of technique would have to be developed through study of simpler Chopin compositions or different composers that would lead him on a path towards mastery of the more difficult Chopin compositions.

    Transfer the idea over to art study and you might begin to see what I mean.

    Having to travel to see art in person, because one doesn't feel that a print of art is actual art, is rather limiting and impractical. No? It's like saying you can only have a relationship with God at church and nowhere else.

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    Well, there's several things that the real artwork has that are worth traveling for: experiencing the actual size of the piece, being able to closely examine the surface and brushwork, doing faithful master copies, getting to know the locations in which the artists made the work (if they haven't been moved), and experiencing the world a little bit. If you can imagine how difficult it was to travel in the past, being able to see works in person around the world should be no less than a privilege. And if the journeys aren't as affecting, if not more so, than viewing the artwork, you're not taking advantage of your artistic opportunities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by max xiantu
    Having to travel to see art in person, because one doesn't feel that a print of art is actual art, is rather limiting and impractical. No? It's like saying you can only have a relationship with God at church and nowhere else.
    Where in New York are you? If you're within a day's trip of Manhattan, which has a higher concentration of great art than anywhere else in the world, then there's no excuse for not seeing the real thing.


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    I visit museums regularly. I was an art lover before I attempted to study art myself. I definitely see the value in seeing the real thing. I was responding to the idea that a print is not the art as well. I have neither the means, nor do I see it as pragmatic to visit a museum to see every piece in Gombrich's book so that I have seen "actual art". The idea struck me as dogmatic and slightly absurd. But I am only a novice.

    But it doesn't show enough actual art. You need to go through a very large museum and just soak it up.


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    Gotcha', no problem.


    Tristan Elwell
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  20. #19
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    unless you are a printmaker
    ....

    define print..... nevermind
    I think there are things to learn from everyone
    techniques even from people who's are you don't care for

    everyone.... who thinks about what they do is a master who can be learned from

    chaos

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    "I usually recieve the answer "Draw, draw, draw", but obviously that is not very specific, and without specificity of practice, you can practice incorrectly and greatly delay your own progress."

    That is the most brilliant statement I've ever heard in my life, no joke! I always ask a few artists how to improve and they respond the same way... but I end up getting fustrated because HOW am I suppoed to practice? "Just draw from life" .... Ummmm, what? GYAH!

    I say study a variety of artistsfrom every time period, also cultural art. I mean, you can't find what you're looking for in only, say, 4 artists. I stroll on Deviantart alot, and end up going to the strangest artists with the strangest styles... or picking up manga from this store Book-Off (used book store) in the back coners of the store where they sell strange manga that doesn't even look like manga... really old and underground! I learn their techniques and little bits of knowledge. Then, I use that library of reference in my own work. Are you just talking about techniques? Because techniques imporve work a ton. Drawing, though... I guess it would be studies of those artists. Of everything -- looking and studying and thinking and drawing.

    I suggest making a folder on ur computer and saving all your favorite art. I have 6 binders of art printed from many artists (some artists have their own binders they're so good!) and when I find myself in an artist's block I look through their work and notice things I haven't before. It depends on your level, too... like if you're a beginner, start simple and work your way up. If you're pretty good and you understand the basics, it's all about style and technique, I would guess...

    p.s. I live in NYC too

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    I don't know, I guess the first part is learning how to reproduce what you see, how to look at an arm and put it on paper (I call that the 'Drawing on the right side of the brain' part) next part is learning the rules that go beyond 'blind' reproduction, like anatomy and perspective. Then you learn how to use that skill and knowledge effectively, with color theory and composition. Of course, these parts are not all separate, they will overlap considerably.

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    When I was learning how to draw I would copy a lot of Hans Holbein portraits upside down. I thought he was the best draughtsman overall when it came to form. I would love to make more but I had to return the book of plates to the lib.

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    I was lucky enough to spend 18 years 5 day a week in a masters painting studio^^ watching learning and asking questions I was very blessed i also watched him teach many people and got to watch there frustration with learning,as my own. All of these people would bring in photo's and copy them,99% struggled to paint^^ and ask questions like" i dont know what colors to paint the trees lol and sit for 3 hour trying to figure it out if i can impart anything it is this DRAW,DRAW DRAW!!! ART is all about confedence^^ GO outside and do 3 painting a week in oils if that what you want to learn^^ only by drawing those trees 1000 times do you learn to draw tree's!!! there no magic formulla^^ belive me I LOOKed for the short cut and spent many years doing so, taking for granted my situation^^ the moment i got off my ass and went outside and painted painted painted did i excell, and understand everything i had been taught and the secret was draw draw draw. It the only way also youll ever be able to get a good sence of color and lighting^^ is by painting from life. All these great masters had 1 thing in common.....they all drew from life and outdoors^^ all shapes lines and form can be found in the study of nature and landscapesat all times of day^^ monet could tell you the time of day by the color of the shadow^^. the only time i ever saw my mentor mad, was when i was about 14 years old and asked him to teach me to paint trees like him he told me it took him 50 years and 20 mins^^ get the point enjoy your struggles for its when you learning the most good luck it a life time path...and you must work everyday to reach your goals^^
    ..................ME............

    .............my master.............................. dead 10 years now.... 6 foot painting...

    p.s i watch this + many paintings painted this sold for 60,000$$$

    Last edited by PXLPropheT; November 23rd, 2006 at 12:59 AM.
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    Look, Xianto, if you only read and accept the general art survey books, then you'll only ever learn about 1% of the important artists that existed.

    Art survey books, even the good ones, take one era of art history, and list the 2-6 biggest names of that era. They make it seem that these were the only artists who lived for a hundred years, and everyone at the time knew them, held them in the highest esteem, and learned from them. Although many artists have been greatly influential in history, they are the tip of the iceberg. To see the artists that books leave out, trust me, you'll thank your lucky stars to go to lots of museums, and look up every artist you like. Especially the Louvre. If you don't go anywhere else, spend a week there.

    Now as for this debate about how to improve as an artist - self taught vs mentoring.
    What did Confucious say? There are three paths to wisdom:

    Reflection is the noblest
    Mimicry is the simplest
    Experience is the most bitter

    I learned to draw from observation by myself - all self taught. It was a combination of reflection and experience, and I can do it. But I'm not great at it. As in, I'm not MC Escher yet. Throughout high school I thought art was just something you had to teach yourself, because I had never met a really good teacher. It wasn't until college when I had great professors that I began to learn what I was missing. But not all of my art professors were good. I don't want to say all art schools are like this, and I'm certainly not bitter. But here's what I found:

    some art teachers just give you the materials, tell you to make something, and come back when you're done. All you ever do in class is critique it, and they pick at everyone's work, sayig why it's not good enough - even if it's a great work. If they can't pick it apart, then they feel you're not getting your money's worth. Sometimes these professors are worth listening to, and very wise. Sometimes they're not. But this is the kind of crit that you can find outside of school, without paying an arm and a leg for college.

    Other classes actually have you work in class, with demonstrations that explain techniques and technology. These are the classes you will learn from!!! This is how I learned about glazing and underpainting. This is how I learned to make animations and jewelry. This is how I learned to make etchings, aquatints, color etchings, chin collet, etc. This is how I learned figure sculpture. Take as many of these kinds of classes from great teachers, and you will learn a great deal more than you would on your own. Learn the techniques, and then practice, practice, practice! Then, don't wonder what you should draw that'll make you better. Choose what to draw that you think matters. Drawing anything will help you improve over time.

    As for getting books, I recommend books devoted to one artist, that give a good biography, include everything the actual artist ever said, and/or have a complete list of works. You'll never be able to judge an artist from one artwork.

    And, as Darkwolf said, if you see the work in person you can see the brushwork, surface, details, etc. In short you can start to ask yourself, how did this artist paint this? What colors were first, and what other colors are on top? You can't do that from most book photos, so yes, the print isn't the same as the original. There are certain books dedicated to single paintings, such as Da Vinci's last supper, and they have innumerable close up photographs. But that's only for a select few paintings in history.

    Last edited by ArtEdGradStudent; November 23rd, 2006 at 07:55 AM.
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    I've learned a great deal by copying both drawings and paintings from the masters directly from museum collections. Living in New York, you should be
    able to engage in the administrative process allowing you to copy in the
    Met. I would start in the drawing archives, if still possible. Also drawing from
    some of the museum's finest greco casts won't hurt - though you sometimes have to hunt one down off in a corner or stairwell that has a single, dominant light source lending a good description of volumetric form to chase down design wise.

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    Surely, the only master worth studying is The Master from Doctor Who. Though he can't impart much wisdom on the subject of oil painting, he can teach you how to kill millions of people. I hear that The Master from Buffy the Vampire Slayer also teaches quite accomplished airbrushing techniques from his underground lair.

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    pxl prophet... I m curious..... your Father?
    I am married to a Master ..... so in a sense I have had access to a mentor for 25 years.... if I weren't so lazy I'd be a better artist

    chaos

    To see the world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

    Sketch book

    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...ight=chaos%27s
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    regarding the draw draw draw, i believe most aren't complaining about having to draw the same stuff over and over again, but rather what is it exactly that they are drawing wrong?

    sometimes it's just very simple stuff like reversing the direction of your stroke to get a better texture, but unless pointed out, very few are going to realise it themselves.

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    Take a look at www.maxthemutt.com. The website includes curiculum. All the courses (except acting and Hisotry of Animation) contain conent you will want to focus on. You can do it yourself but its easier- and faster- to study in a structured environment. We also ofer a one month intensive in July which is open to everyone and is moderately priced.

    You need: life drawing, including exercises to develop your use of all senses when drawing ( Kimon Nicolaides: The Natural Way to Draw), Perspective and Structural Drawing, a good drawing class using still life to develop other basic drawing skills: pont to point, positive and negative space, planar construction, modelling, tonal pattern; a good design and composition course. If you want to paint, there's more. Of course you also need to draw and draw and draw to develop all these skills.

    Like classical music or ballet, you can't start at the end. Its developemental and you are right :just drawing will not get you there...you have to think about what and how you're drawing.

    I hope this is some help.

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    Studying art history has been a very daunting task for me. The more masters I study, the more I find. I tend to go off on tangents. For example, one of my favorite artists is Herbert Draper (1863-1920). He was a British Academic painter as opposed to a member of the Impressionist movement. When studying him, I was able to find very little on his actual technique, methods and such. However, I did learn that he was a student of Bouguereau and Frederic Leighton. There is much more information on these more well known masters. Looking at Drapers art, you can see the similarities between him and his predecessors. Each school of art, whether it is Italian Renaissance or Spanish or French Academic can be distilled down to a small list of artists that summarized the movement. Starting with your Hals, Caravaggio, Rubens, Durer, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Renoir, Goya, Valesquez, Monet, etc. is better than trying to say "I like Constant Troyon as a painter. I want to learn his style", simply because you will find more information on the more well known. How can you emulate someone as a learning exercise when you can't find out what kind of ground they used, what colors their palette consisted of, how they laid out their composition, etc. This is just my opinion as a fellow art student, but that is what I have been doing and it seems to yield better results for me.

    Whatever you do, don't look at my Sketchbook and Painting Thread!


    "I reject your reality and substitute my own" - Adam Savage, Mythbusters
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