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  #31   Report Bad Post  
Old 05-06-2009, 06:12 AM
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Mette Rörström Mette Rörström is offline
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

Hi!
Thank you, for doing this, Don!
This is my first. A quick one.....
I painted this on a old watercolor paper I had in my studio.


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Old 05-06-2009, 01:47 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

Mette! Thanks for joining us! This looks nice. You have some very nice, graceful curves, especially on the legs!

I do have a couple comments. Perhaps you have changed the pose intentionally, which is easy to do when you use the stick figure, but if not, then you will notice that the reference has a much more tilted pose.



You can see that a line straight down from her head is actually in front of her foot and her legs are angled. The other thing I noticed was the light value of her back. From the photo (red arrows) it seems as if her back and the back of her neck are all in shadow and fairly dark. Your painting has the back of the neck in shadow, but the back is light - so it is not consistent.

In general, looks good and I really like the legs and feet - even if they are a different angle than the reference!

Don

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mette Rörström
Hi!
Thank you, for doing this, Don!
This is my first. A quick one.....
I painted this on a old watercolor paper I had in my studio.

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Old 05-06-2009, 05:23 PM
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Mette Rörström Mette Rörström is offline
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

Thank. you, Don.
Yes, l can see I have change the pose. l have never used stick figure before -And find it dificult, It is easyer without, l think. l will put here back in shadow.
The next one l will work more on. l just had to do this quick one, to get my head to paint " figure" and not fantasy, as l have been working on lately...
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:36 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

When one thinks of figure paintings and pastels, the name Degas is sure to be among the first mentioned. I was looking at some of Degas' dancers and thought I would post a few.

A few observations of mine follow. Feel free to post your comments and observations, too.



I notice that the values are very simplified - basically one light value and one dark for the skin tones, especially on the near dancer's arm and the far dancer's face and neck. Not a lot of detail.



Again, the values are simplified. I notice how the light flesh areas really stand out!



Simplified values. Not much detail - detail is suggested for the most part. In both this painting and the one above, there are quite a few outlines visible. In some ways this could be considered as a blending of drawing and painting techniques, something that can work well with pastels, and as you can see, Degas did often.



Again, simplified and large value shapes. Notice how many of the shadow value shapes are connected to one another, simplifying them further. Once again, the light values really stand out!

A few years ago, I did a copy (of sorts) of one of Degas' dancer pastels. I cropped things, moved things around, and used my own style for the most part, but I found it quite interesting and a good learning experience. Personally, (and this is my own opinion) one can learn more from copying a painting than any other method. So I offer these examples as another source for reference. These paintings have multiple figures, so feel free to pick and choose one or more.

Hope to see some of your paintings!

Don
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:32 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

Hi Don - I was just viewing the Degas paintings - they are wonderful and I might try to copy a dancer out of one of them. There is one though that I wonder about - she is in the third painting from the top, danger on the far right. Are her proportions correct? From the waist down, something doesn't seem right - or are my old eyes misleading me?

It might be that the dark shadow under the skirt is misleading my eye.
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Old 05-17-2009, 09:58 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

Actually, Degas misses stuff rather often, but we usually do not discover it, because his paintings are so beautiful.

He often worked on top of (his own) prints, too, letting the black of the print make shadows.

Charlie
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Old 05-17-2009, 11:09 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

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Originally Posted by Kathryn Wilson
Hi Don - I was just viewing the Degas paintings - they are wonderful and I might try to copy a dancer out of one of them. There is one though that I wonder about - she is in the third painting from the top, dancer on the far right. Are her proportions correct? From the waist down, something doesn't seem right - or are my old eyes misleading me?

It might be that the dark shadow under the skirt is misleading my eye.

Hi Kathryn,

There are a couple things that strike me as being a bit off about that dancer. It does look like her head is a bit big for the body, but somehow that doesn't seem off enough to bother me much. Let's take a look!


Hmmm, she's only 6 heads high! That is a fairly short body compared to the head. In the next lesson we will get more specifically into measurements and find that 7 1/2 heads would be considered "realistic", while 8 heads high would be the generic ideal.

What bothers me more is that it does seem like her body is twisted in an unrealistic way, although her clothing makes it hard to tell. While the upper body is twisted 3/4 sideways, the legs look like we are seeing them mostly from the front. It seems like there should be a more noticeable twist at he waist, but I don't see it! Clearly, Degas did not use my stick figure method!

On the other hand, I like this painting very much and those things didn't bother me that much! This brings up an issue that I think all figurative painters deal with - "How accurate do I have to be? Does the artistic statement I am trying to make still work even if I am not completely correct with proportions and anatomy?"

Don

Last edited by DAK723 : 05-17-2009 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 05-17-2009, 11:41 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

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Originally Posted by Colorix
Actually, Degas misses stuff rather often, but we usually do not discover it, because his paintings are so beautiful.

He often worked on top of (his own) prints, too, letting the black of the print make shadows.

Charlie

Hi Charlie,

Your comment ties in with the question I left everyone with at the end of my last reply. How accurate do we have to be? I think, as artists, we look for realistic accuracy - not just in figures, but also in landscapes (in terms of aerial perspective, for example) more than is often necessary. My guess is that accuracy is not the major objective when we put pastel (or brush, or pencil) down on paper at the start of our artistic creation. We were driven to create our painting by something else - the gesture of the model, the way the light strikes the subject, the beauty of color in a fall landscape, etc. In order to capture the essence of our artistic vision, sometimes accuracy in other areas is sacrificed - sometimes sacrificed (or manipulated) intentionally to strengthen our major objective.

Of course, sometimes if there is not enough accuracy, it clearly will distract from our artistic statement. Our painting will fail to be realistic enough to communicate our vision. So we must be able to be accurate enough - hence the need for learning the fundamentals!

So while we are learning the fundamentals, whether it is painting the figure, or water, or trees, etc., accuracy is very important. And yet, once we attain a high level of fundamental skill, we might sacrifice that accuracy to create something beyond accurate - well, something artistic!

This is why art is hard!

Don
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Old 05-17-2009, 11:46 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

OK, those girls probably didn't eat good American steaks, so they may have been malnourished and therefore short.

But what about this one, then:



It is said he painted alongside the photographer. But, (and now I'm going to suggest something 'sacriligeous'), what if he painted from a photo?


(My Husband is on the mend, but I still don't have any time to paint. Will catch up, I *really* want to paint several of the figures!)


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Old 05-17-2009, 12:25 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

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Originally Posted by Colorix
OK, those girls probably didn't eat good American steaks, so they may have been malnourished and therefore short.

But what about this one, then:



It is said he painted alongside the photographer. But, (and now I'm going to suggest something 'sacriligeous'), what if he painted from a photo?


(My Husband is on the mend, but I still don't have any time to paint. Will catch up, I *really* want to paint several of the figures!)


Charlie

Hi Charlie,

Glad to hear your husband is doing better! Yes, this Degas could definitely be more accurate. I was just looking through one of my Degas books and there are numerous examples of "inaccuracy," especially as he got older. I guess the question is - Did he exaggerate poses on purpose? Did he begin to create more abstract figures by design as his art evolved? Or was he just careless and shoddy in his draftmanship?

For our purposes in this lesson, I would definitely send Degas back to the drawing board on this one!

And yes, it is thought - at least late in his career - that Degas did indeed paint from photos. I have some examples that I will scan and post later today (I hope).

Don
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Old 05-17-2009, 12:47 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

Well, I'm glad it wasn't only me that saw the inaccuracy of that dancer! She would have been the one to copy, but then I'd have to try and correct what the master did - gulp.

I don't think we need to be accurate, but within this lesson plan if we are going to learn how to put a figure together, I think we'd best stick to the plan.

When I first started thinking about ballet dancers, I was thinking long, flowing lines - maybe not! I have to sympathize with Degas' fleeting eyesight - I think my imagination takes off where my eyesight is fading.
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:28 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

every since I rember, Degas was/is myf FAV.. Acurrate or not.. I just love the line/painting spontanious feel movement, light... the energy componsates for any inaccuracy in his work, imo. I would personally much rather view a painting lacking in accuracy than one that is static & labored, yet accurate. _Is_ the 6 head one inaccurrate, or due to foreshortening because of the view/angle? I think the latter.. we are looking from above.. 7 1/2 heads is from straight on isnt it?.. Good food for thought here.. I definately want to try some of his figures.. Thanks for posting them, Don.. very inspirational!
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Old 05-17-2009, 05:37 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by maw-t
I would personally much rather view a painting lacking in accuracy than one that is static & labored, yet accurate.

I think many would agree.

Quote:
Is the 6 head one inaccurrate, or due to foreshortening because of the view/angle? I think the latter.. we are looking from above.. 7 1/2 heads is from straight on isnt it?

Well, I think his 6 head tall dancer it is just not that accurate (sorry Degas).... The"eye" of the viewer seems sufficiently distant from the picture plane to negate that much distortion from foreshortening and/or perspective. I will try to discuss some of the effects of the distortion caused by being too close to the subject (especially in photographing the model) in our next lesson. To a certain extent, the distortion that is present when viewing someone from head to toe often leads to the use of generic or ideal proportions rather than actual visual measurements when working with the figure. The 7 1/2 head height is a generic average height. 8 heads tall would be an idealized height, which is often used. So-called "heroic" proportions might be 8 1/2 heads tall. Confused? We'll talk about it more next lesson. When learning, using your observations is still the best starting point, in my opinion.

Speaking of photographs...







Photos by Degas. The extent that he used them in the paintings is not known (at least by me)! It is not surprising that photography is used frequently in figurative work. Imagine a live model holding that pose in photo #1 for more than a few minutes. My back is aching just from looking at it!

In my lesson I mention the importance of sketching, or visualizing the entire figure underneath clothing. Degas has sketches - in some cases completed drawings that are signed - for most of his pastel dancers. Here is an example:



Don
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Old 05-17-2009, 05:47 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathryn Wilson
When I first started thinking about ballet dancers, I was thinking long, flowing lines - maybe not!

Long flowing lines might be what you want to say when it comes to the figure. That is one of the things that make art interesting - how each artist interprets the same reference or subject matter differently. Looking at these examples, one might come to the conclusion that Degas was most interested in angles. Lots of bent elbows!!

I look forward to your long flowing lines!

Don
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Old 05-17-2009, 06:28 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 5: The Figure, Part 1

I didn't know Degas invented The Thing later used in the Addams Family! ;-) I'm referring to the free-floating hand and arm in the second pairing of painting and photo. :-D

Hm, in the photo there, the graceful pose of the ballerina's neck and head is very captivating, but in the painting, he's made it more, er... awkward, hasn't he? And it certainly looks like he's combined photos, as she's alone in the photo, while part of a group in the painting. What if it really is the same girl in different photos, in different poses, but combined?

T, I think you bring up an important point. His paintings are wonderful, no doubt about that. Taken as wholes. Details may be lacking in accuracy, and grace, but the whole is glorious.

Lots of elbows, bent limbs, that form abstract shapes, and rhythms.

The light is always important in the paintings. And the sense of movement and action. Maybe he was less concerned with accuracy of drawing, as he was focusing on other things?

I've seen the statuettes he made of people in different poses. Not only ballerinas, but also rather chubby women, and older women. They were great, and didn't give any sense of awkwardness.

I think some of us (definitely me!) get too caught up in 'copying' a photo, making the painting right in every detail. Clearly, it *really* doesn't matter at all. Degas' awkward girls are an eye-opener!

Charlie
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