Jon Houghton, a local artist of some reknown, is proficient in pastels, watercolor and oils...but to watch him draw is like watching magic. He is methodical, intense, detailed but most of all: natural. He is also a gentleman. Jon is a believer in discipline and is living proof of how it pays off. So when he offered to guide students through the rigorous drawing course developed by Charles Barque and Jean Leon Gerome in the mid-1800's, well, I knew I should jump at the opportunity. The book (reprinted by Ackerman) " aims to teach the drawing skills of classical realism, accurate, sculptural, and beautiful without being decorative."
OK, I've been for one three hour session and here is the sum total of my efforts:
Can you tell that these are angles of the human eye? The course has the student copy pages and pages of plates....why? Well, you are to first estimate the distance from the center axis that the eye crosses...and before you mark it, you tediously measure it to the original drawing, remeasure onto your paper and then mark it: point by point (one eye may have many, many points.) Then you draw it in. Then you trace the original version with tracing paper and lay it over your replication to see how well you copied it.
And then you moan and groan and go on to number two.
(As one student says: "This is a 13 year course!!")
In 3 hours I only got 8 eyes replicated! And this is just the beginning....According to Jon my ability to estimate the points, and line them up will improve each time...pretty soon (that's relative of course) I should be able to see and then copy almost spot on. Really? And all the while we are training the eye to see every little nuance of whatever it is we are drawing.
OK...but "why" you ask? Well, Jon did take a little time to show us the early drawings of such masters as Picasso and Monet....neither of whom made their mark on the world with realistic art. Believe it or not, both could draw the human figure (or anything else for that matter) as accurately as a photograph. They just chose not to...and then developed their own style which was greatly informed by the fact that they knew the basics inside and out.
Such a loftly goal.
Don't know if I will live to make it through the noses and ears (rumor has it ears are horrible to do) but I am going to give it at least as much attention as I gave the sit ups. Somehow owning up to this endeavor publically means I have to make it at least to the end of the year.