Today’s Featured Sketch and a Rant

This drawing from my Sketchbook Project 2011 sketchbook, is of my sister's dog. A rather snobbish but cute bitch maltese named Chelsea.

To me this drawing brings to mind the age old issue of whether it’s okay to trace an image as opposed to drawing it freehand, as a means of starting a final piece (weather the final piece be in pencil or oils or whatever medium).

My view on this issue has always been this: Tracing light guidelines down weather it be with a projector or a lightbox has no bearing at all on the success of the finished piece because a piece of realistic art such as this, is made up of VALUE MASSES not lines. There are no lines in reality, only edges of objects.

Starting a painting or drawing with line placement only, does not mean that one will be successful in rendering light and shadow masses correctly or convincingly.

I have actually used both methods with success in my career. On this piece, because of time constraints, I used a lightbox to place light guidelines down for position of the dog only. Here is a detail of the final rendering where dog meets two areas of background mass.

These edges are soft to convey the illusion of fur. That kind of thing can’t be rendered with a single line only, even if the piece is started out in that way. The only lines that are present are there to show hair texture. Again, you can’t trace shadow mass.

If you are a realistic, representational artist who feels like using a projector or lightbox is a bad thing I want you to do two things:

One: Remember that Vameer, Rembrandt, Norman Rockwell and thousands of other major artists throughout history, that you love, have used a projector (or the equivalent thereof for their times).

Two: Do what I do and keep drawing freehand to keep your observational skills sharp and just use the projector and/or lightbox as a time saver in order to get to the really fun part of the process - slopping paint around.

Look at the charcoal sketch of a womans head I posted two posts ago. That was from a bust I have in my studio that I placed before me and did totally freehand from life.

It was acres of fun!!



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