|To the left is the master drawing of Michelangelo Buonarroti's Study for Battle of Casina|
and to the right is my copy
One of my favorite books on drawing is Juliette Aristies book Lessons in Classical Drawing. I've owned this book for a couple of years and recently decided to re-read it and work the exercises along the way.
The object of the first exercise was to become familiar with governing lines and directions.
She suggests picking any master to copy. Because I was anxious to start I didn't want to spend my time looking for a drawing to copy so I chose the same drawing that she did in her example.
I taped the copy of the Master Drawing to the left of my blank paper I was going to use for my copy of the master drawing. I needed to mark lines at the top and bottom to indicated the scale of the drawing. Then I needed to take a best guess at a single angle direction to see if I can account for some of the movement of the work. I don't think I would have seen the same angle Juliette saw if I hadn't used the same Master Drawing she did as my reference and her show an example of this. Maybe if I were to attempt another I could use my own judgement better.
The second step was to place a few governing lines to get an overall shape to the gesture.
The next step was to formalize the lines into coherent shapes … and from here it was easier to see that my sketch was looking more closely resembling the original.
The last step was to tone the large planes of shadow to separate them from the light shapes..
Out of curiosity I taped the master drawing to a window with bright light behind it and laid my copy over it to see where I had made my mistakes. Ahhh, now I could see exactly where I had made my mistakes. The upper torso was good but the bottom half I had not measured correctly at all. You can see where I should have drawn by the red Sharpie lines I've drawn where I the original drawing was. The hips were off as well as one foot … and the leg that is down was off a lot.
I was surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise. Something about measuring, squinting to see the values better and taking my time really felt good to me.
I'm going to continue working on my drawing skills in a number of different ways. I've been doing some simple daily sketches and working on Bargue Plates and also I plan to continue working through the exercises in this book. All good stuff.