View Full Version : Chp5:The Practice And Science of Drawing

11-04-2006, 07:47 PM

. . .the first mental idea of an object is the sense of its form as a felt thing, not a thing seen; and that an outline drawing satisfies and appeals directly to this mental idea of objects.
. If only the accurate copying of the appearances of nature were the sole object of art (an idea to be met with among students) the problem of painting would be simpler than it is, and would be likely ere long to be solved by the photographic camera.
it was not until Velazquez that a picture was painted that was founded entirely on visual appearances, in which a basis of objective outlines was discarded and replaced by a structure of tone masses.
When he took his own painting room with the little Infanta and her maids as a subject, Velazquez seems to have considered it entirely as one flat visual impression. The focal attention is centred on the Infanta, with the figures on either side more or less out of focus, those on the extreme right being quite blurred. The reproduction here given unfortunately does not show these subtleties, and flattens the general appearance very much. The focus is nowhere sharp, as this would disturb the contemplation of the large visual impression. And there, I think, for the first time, the whole gamut of natural vision, tone, colour, form, light and shade, atmosphere, focus, &c., considered as one impression, were put on canvas.
All sense of design is lost. The picture has no surface; it is all atmosphere between the four edges of the frame, and the objects are within. Placed as it is in the Prado, with the light coming from the right as in the picture, there is no break between the real people before it and the figures within, except the slight yellow veil due to age.
But wonderful as this picture is, as a "tour de force," like his Venus of the same period in the National Gallery, it is a painter's picture, and makes but a cold impression on those not interested in the technique of painting. With the cutting away of the primitive support of fine outline design and the absence of those accents conveying a fine form 61stimulus to the mind, art has lost much of its emotional significance.


"Las Meninas"
Diego Velázquez
Oil on canvas, 318 x 276 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid


I think the thing I never new that this painting was impression :eek: :)

What really brought the difference home to me was the example
between these two plate studies. It is A big, big difference !

Plate XII.
Note the desire to express form as a felt solid thing, the contours resulting from the overlapping forms. The visual appearance is arrived at as a result of giving expression to the mental idea of a solid object.
Plate XIII.
In contrast with Michael Angelo's drawing, note the preoccupation with the silhouette the spaces occupied by the different masses in the field of vision; how the appearance solid forms is the result of accurately portraying this visual appearance.

Precious Mazie
11-06-2006, 02:03 AM
Thank-you for posting all the picture examples! I never heard of Blake before and was interested in what his worked looked like. I would never had said that Velazquez Infanta was impressionistic though from reading HS I can see why he says it is. Every time I look at this picture I have always felt that I was one of the people whose reflection is in the mirror on the far wall of the room and I am looking in at exactly what was going on in that room. The catch in this painting is that the Velazquez in the painting is painting those two viewers. He was painting them not the child and her group because he is not looking at the child. She would have her back to him. Velazquez is painting him self painting the King and Queen. But as he is painting himself, he is painting the group of people who are standing next to him who are there to entertain or be watched by the King and Queen. Looking at this picture makes each person royalty! So I disagree with HS is his appraisal that only painters would “get” this picture.

HS says, “But wonderful as this picture is, as a "tour de force," like his Venus of the same period in the National Gallery, it is a painter's picture, and makes but a cold impression on those not interested in the technique of painting.”

I have only one more thought on this chapter. I am very near sighted. When I take my glasses off and paint something distant from me I paint much like an impressionist. I read Monet’s biography and he had bad eye sight too. Maybe that is the true origin of impressionism. But I am glad it exists because of its beauty of light.

I am really enjoying this book!

11-07-2006, 11:01 AM
Hi Precious Mazie, I so enjoy reading your thoughts!!!
I am nearsided too, so maybe that explains a lot about me too!:)
I use it as an excuse not to see when I clean up around here,
Oh, really, where did that dirt come from, hehe:)

Back to the book, I love reading about Velazquez and his paintings!

I want to do some of the exercises.
I hope Sam you get to post piccys.

Help me along you guys, anybody ahead of this chapter yet?
Everyone getting the download to join in?
Need any help?

For those that wanted to join in have you found this book interesting?
Too old to bear light on todays world?
Just wondering.

Will be back later.

11-08-2006, 02:52 PM
I really am growing by reading this book. I don't think it could go out of date.

He has the best description of impressionism I have heard and I think I can almost explain it myself.

My artist daughter is near sighted and loves to go without her glasses cause she says all the visual stimulus is overwhelming at times...:eek:

Yeah, I never considered Velaquez impressionistic but it makes good sense.

I think reading this book is one of the best things I could have done at this time. I just started having time to draw etc this spring . Before there would be 2 - 4 year spaces between drawings in my sketch book....over a 25 year period.

And while I am at it I want to say how much I appreciate ya'll here at wetcanvas - volunteers and members........:wave: :heart: :wave: :heart: :wave: :heart:

Precious Mazie
11-08-2006, 07:36 PM
Hi Nickel and Azulparsnip,
Are there exercises with this book? I was thinking it’s more opinion and theory. I have enjoyed reading it and not bored at all. I agree, I don’t think it could go out of date and am very surprised at that! It does have the best explanation of modern art (an art form I have heard described as painting about paint.) :( Not my favorite area of art but now I have a little better understanding of it.;)

:lol: Have to laugh when reading about your sketch books, Azulparsnip, because that is just how mine are too. I get so busy with life or discouraged with my progress or lack there of, that large gaps exist.

:( I have never considered my self an artist but an art student and an art history student. Since I am well over 50 and have been doing since high school I guess I will be a student my whole life. HS said something about this and it really hit home. (last line of chapter 6)

“The danger is that the absorbing interest in his academic studies may take up his whole attention, to the neglect of the instinctive qualities that he should possess the possession of which alone will entitle him to be an artist.” Not sure I have the “instinctive qualities” that would entitle me to be called an artist. But it’s some thing to strive for and until I read that I didn’t know I was suppose to. Well am getting a little ahead here. Will save the rest of my comments on chapter 6 when we get to that thread.
Glad to be with y’all in the reading and discussion of this book! :wave:

11-08-2006, 08:58 PM
Hi Azulparsnip and Precious Mazie! It’s interesting, I’ve been down the same path, art takes diversions, luckily I think that we get this time in our lives to explore it again and most definitely in a new technological way, cyber style. I enjoy our discussions.
When I wrote about exercises, I’ve already skim read the book and seen many things that look like areas to explore, like in chp 7 there are some things like building a grid, but I don’t know if I’ll do that. Plus just want to try and do some sketching to practice shading, mass, and line. No requirements for anyone to do anything. I learn by touch, lol, how funny is that? In order for me to remember, I have to write it down. Maybe it is the way I learned in elementary school, don’t remember, but I speculate it was by repetition.

Just want to end here with this quote from chp 5 I think is pretty true.

…the implied assumption that one sees with the eye alone is wrong:
"In every object there is inexhaustible meaning; the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of seeing,"[2]
[2] Goethe, quoted in Carlyle's French Revolution, chap. i.
and it is the mind behind the eye that supplies this means of perception: one sees with the mind. The ultimate effect of any picture, be it impressionist, post, anti, or otherwise—is its power to stimulate these mental perceptions within the mind.

Oh, I believe it is the members here that make this place special.
All of us!:wave:

Sam Cree
11-08-2006, 10:26 PM

OK, here is the exercise I did from Mr. Speed's instructions:
Draw the thing in charcoal, fix it, then scrub over the charcoal drawing with a middle tone. Then paint in the lights, followed by the middle tone shadows, followed by the dark accents and highlights.

The photo it was done from had nice delineation between darks and lights, much as a cast would. I don't own any casts, though I'm thinking of getting that one that sort of shows the muscles, but have painted several casts that my painting instructor has.

Couldn't figure out how to past the whole image so had to settle for a clickable thumbnail. My daughter tells me I had the resolution turned down too much when I photographed the image. I spent a couple or three hours on it.

Precious Mazie
11-08-2006, 10:53 PM
Sam, what a nice job! what did you do this on? Canvas, paper, if papernwhat weight? What did you use for the middle tone, paint? Where in the book are the insturctions? Again great job!

11-09-2006, 08:41 AM
Very nice Sam,

11-09-2006, 09:09 AM
Good morning!
Sam this is an awesome drawing!
It is beautiful!

Did you say before this exercise was from chp 4?

Sam Cree
11-09-2006, 02:35 PM
Nickel, It looks like I screwed up and jumped ahead...it's from the chapter on mass drawing all right, but "mass drawing, practical," which is chapter 8, not the chapter on mass drawing (philosophical?) which is chapter 5.

Precious Mazie, the instructions for the exercise start on page 110, and are illustrated there with a painting from a cast, and illustrated again with a painting from life right after page 122.

I used, fwiw, a sheet from one of those inexpensive canvas pads that you can buy, 16x20". Drew the outlines and indicated some shadows in vine charcoal, then painted over it in oils. It's more or less monochromatic, but the grays are made from a combo of English red, yellow ochre, ivory black, ultra blue, and white, which as you know is considered to be pretty much the palette of some of the 17th century masters...but mixed together in various proportions make wonderful grays, cool or warm.

The middle tone is still visible, surrounding the black which was laid in behind the fellow's head.

My apologies for rattling on.

11-10-2006, 11:18 PM
Sam, I enjoyed every word!

Thank you!

Here is the link to:
Chp 6:The Practice And Science of Drawing