Become The Old Master
You will all be working on Letramax 100 handmade drawing paper for this assignment. The images from which you will all be working will be provided by me and will be assigned on a first come first serve basis. Once you have chosen your image, you will need to grid your paper and then lightly lightly sketch the basic structure of the drawing. You are not required to use a grid for this assignment, but you are more than welcome to if you find it helpful. If you choose to use a grid, you will want to do your structural drawing first, erase the grid, then stain the paper. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a grid of erased marks that disrupt your stained paper and ruin the integrity of the drawing.
The grid system was certainly used during the Renaissance, so it is a completely valid method for attaining the proper proportion in your drawing. I recommend speaking with an upper level student about how they did this project. Since "proportion" is a major part of the grading criteria for this assignment, you will need to be sure to focus while you are working out the basic structure of your drawing.
Once you feel confident about the proportions of your drawing's structure, you will be free to study the master's marks . You will need to take on the role of the artist who created the work that you are studying. If you chose Leonardo, you must ask yourself …...
How did Leonardo's hand move?
How did the wrist turn?
How did the pressure vary?
Become Leonardo, pick his brain -- was it a series of gestural strokes, did he change the speed of the line? Did he traverse the form finding its repeating and opposing rhythms? How does the line travel over the form? If possible, I want you to use the same materials used by the "master" whose work you are studying, and attempt to become the old master: what was he seeing? You are studying from the master, not tracing or merely copying, but trying to understand his sense of line quality, of mass conception -- his feeling for the life of the pose.
What I want you to get out of this assignment is the ability to really observe something. Here, you are to observe the mark-making and the line quality of the artist. Here, you have the opportunity to feel what the master felt five hundred years ago. Try to imagine how his hand moved, which hand, at what speed, and with what feeling? How did he create an illusion of form while staying true to the physicality of the mark. How does he "see"?
Leonardo da Vinci said: "To draw is to learn to see". How can relating your sense of touch and study of the master's works to help you to "see"?
This is a traditional drawing exercise that has been practiced for centuries. You are a part of the art historical tradition now, and what you should seek to get from this exercise is a new awareness of line.