I Want to Sculpt My Drawings

26 Jul 2011

Minerva by Auguste Rodin simultaneously shows the centered grounding of the human body's core and the fluidity of its limbs.
Minerva by Auguste Rodin simultaneously shows the centered
grounding of the human body's core and the fluidity of its limbs. 

Painting is closer to three-dimensionality than drawing simply by way of the medium. You can build up sculpted areas and thick passages of paint, which is much harder to do in ink, charcoal, or pencil. That's why I like to think of drawing with a sculptor's sensibility, so that from the get-go I am in the mindset of trying to solidify and turn forms on the page.

Remembering my angles. Sometimes I forget how effective layers of hatching and crosshatching can be in a pencil drawing to create the illusion of volumes in space. Building up line for highlight, midtone, and deep shadow means that all of a sudden I have a sharply turned form.

The striding temple. Auguste Rodin likened the human body to a striding temple that has a center of gravity and volumes distributed and ordered around it. By looking at his drawings, I've come to appreciate the idea of contour and movement. Modeling the form is key but so is understanding what you are looking at as a whole. Rodin would establish this by drawing without taking his eyes off his model or subject, and that is a practice that I find worth imitating.

Henry Moore's Shelter Scene gave me a lot of food for thought in terms of using hatching and crosshatching to good effect, and how random mark-making can lead to a breakthrough.
Henry Moore's Shelter Scene gave me a lot of food for thought in terms of using hatching and crosshatching to good effect, and how random mark-making can lead to a breakthrough.

Weigh it down. Sometimes I forget the solidity and mass of objects when I'm drawing. I get distracted with fluid line and gesture. But Henry Moore's drawings have taught me a great deal about using substantial outlines and intense shadowing to give objects gravity and a sense that they have almost been carved into being. Moore would often start by doing a series of automatic drawings, making lines, tones, and shapes with no conscious purpose in mind. He'd continue on like this until an idea crystallized in his mind. Only then would he start to shift his mark-making from random to controlled and ordered.

 

I probably would never have looked at Moore and Rodin's drawings with this kind of attentiveness if it wasn't for the drawing demos and instruction I get from our magazines, including the sketch studies in Plein Air Painting and the drawing exercises in Step-by-Step Highlights. The insightful articles and inspiring artwork that fills their pages have done me a world of good. And now these two are available in digital format, so you don't have to go all the way to the bookstore or wait for the mail to have these resource right now. Enjoy!

 


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