Sunday, 26 August 2012

Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Raphael.

Michelangelo-Study for the Libyan Sibyl
                        Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
                        Studies for the Libyan Sibyl
                        red chalk
                        Metropolitan Museum of Art

Leonardo da Vinci- Cartoon of the Virgin With Saint Anne
                     Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
                     Cartoon For The Virgin With Saint Anne And Saint John
                     charcoal heightened with white
                     National Gallery, London
                      Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520)
                      A Combat Of Nude Men
                      red chalk over stylus
                      Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Welcome to my blog. I thought in this first post I would look at three of the greatest draftsmen who ever lived: Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael Sanzio.

Throughout this blog I will be exploring drawing, painting and artistic anatomy. I will be posting some of my own drawings from time to time, done both from life and the imagination (a topic I will discuss in a future post). Look for ongoing posts on the basics of drawing and posts devoted to the basics of human anatomy. I will review any art books that I find interesting and we will look at the great artists of the past and the present.

I selected the three drawings above because they are three of my favorites. Although each of the drawings are different, stylistically, all three show a wonderful sense of volume. Each of the artists had an uncanny ability to draw around the form. Michelangelo used very fine hatching which merged into almost solid tone over the right scapula and on the shadow side of the 7th cervical vertebrae.

Leonardo da Vinci used mostly tone to achieve his effects in this drawing through a technique he called sfumato (a blending of tones to achieve a very smooth transition from light to shadow), although he was able employ a lovely, fine line when he chose to. His choice of this technique in this particular drawing may have had something to do with its being a full-size cartoon (54 3/4"x39 3/4").

Raphael Sanzio used a coarser hatching than Michelangelo which flowed around the contours of his forms in certain places, almost like a computer wireframe model.

Achieving a sense of volume in a drawing is critical to its success(as are gesture, proportion, modeling, perspective...). In a truly fine drawing I like to get the feeling that if I were to lean to one side, I could peer around behind the figure occupying the space in front of me.

Remember, even though you are drawing on a two dimensional surface, life is lived in three dimensions. Learn to measure not simply the height and width of your figures, but their depth as well. Draw as the sculptor sculpts; feel the volumes swell and contract beneath your pencil as it caresses the living, breathing form.

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