Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Studying the masters

 Why copy from Masters. My thoughts on it c:

I love copying from masters and been doing since forever, even as a small kid i was copying Akira Toriyama, robocop, ironman, x-men, ren and stimpy, all the cartoons that i used watch as a kid. Obviously this was not done with thought other than showing my love for the characters and trying to make my own spin off stories. Then, my understanding of anatomy, form, proportions, light, composition etc.. was none! But did not matter, i was applying(very poorly) all of it unconsciously into my drawings. We all done it at some point. The repetition and hours get into our unconsciousness and muscle memory, very very slowly, but in regardless. But then, as a child, the point was not be technically good, but to tell my own stories, in my on imaginative world.

  Now when i make studies i always have a specific technical thing that i want to learn from it, a conscious decision and awareness when doing these kind of exercise. From composition, design, line flow, brush marks, modeling, edges... whatever might be, could also be any combination of these. Depending on what i am studying the medium does not matter. I always try to have a goal for why and what am i doing this for.

 The very advantage of copying is that we learn to achieve the same result in our own way, regardless of using a different technique from the masters. That "same" result can be achieved by taking different routes, as they all meet at the end.
Obviously if we want to learn specific process(imprimatura, direct drawing or transfer, layering, coloring, texture, brush mark effect etc...) used by the masters, studying unfinished work or/and sketches is the route i would take. One could always find evidence of, in which order the marks where made, but there's only so much than one can see on the surface(unless they wrote books, or notes about their own process). We don't see how they problem solved, and so, we are left with some educated guesses and the beautiful result for which we can only work from. We have to problem solve on our own, which also is part of the benefit of studying from the masters in my opinion.
To understand how they saw the world, some paintings that i studied, i either arranged a similar set up or visit similar places and see what to or what not paint.
So studying value simplicity from Zorn, composition from Repin, and edges from Velazquez. Possibilities are endless. One responses to different artists for different reasons, and that is a very personal thing. But all these are only 'ingredients for a chef to cook with'.

Knowing what to paint or what for, helps tremendously to focus on problem solving, and apply how such studies.
Now is to go back to being a child again and make my own pictures, my own reality, and paint my own surroundings. Traveling back and forth, between painting, and studying for more and better 'ingredients'.

In these studies i try to learn more about simplification of the value shapes, and subduing detail as part of the whole.
After Philip De Laszlo's painting

After John S. Sargent's painting

After John S. Sargent's painting

After John S. Sargent's painting

Simplification based on the previous studies. Drawing from a black and white photo

After a photo of Mr De Laszlo himself

Thoughts about learning and teaching

I now have been teaching at an Atelier for 2 years full-time, and a year + as part-time assistant before that. And some private tutoring on the side as well. During which i learned so much. The very thing that i learned, been constantly reminded of, and now i find myself repeating at all times everyday is, the importance of fundamentals and simplicity. But teaching is without any doubt the period where i learned the most(and continuously so).

As a teacher i get asked questions all the time, some easier to answer than others. From 'how can i make this look rounder?', 'I can't go any brighter even if i use the eraser', 'how can i capture her personality?', 'my painting doesn't seem to have enough life'. Questions that force me to read, experiment and study more.
Also to be able to 'correct' and 'push' the students work, to achieve a certain goal regardless their initial mistakes or starting point. Problem solving along side them.
How rewarding teaching can be!! Pushes me artistically, helps improve my english, and learn more about people. Truly love it c:

Will write down more thoughts and personal opinions on teaching and art for now on, some more in depth, some just me mumbling about it.
These thoughts and opinions are personal and reflect only what i think now, can change as it did so many times before

Demos that i did during class. Always draw along side the student and give demos everyday.