Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gesture Sketches

Yeesh.  Yesterday's POST  about my visit to the Impressionist exhibit at the Kimbell got complicated.

So... In lieu of pretty colored photos of those paintings, here are my fast gesture-drawings of them.

You'll see that these sketches are much more limited - no color for one thing - and there's little attempt be accurate in proportion or complete in detail.  But the nice thing about gesture-drawing as I was taught it is that it can catch a surprising amount of the feeling of subject.  These particular sketches weren't intended for publication, were meant as memory joggers, but yet... they do that job surprisingly well.

Portrait of Madame Monet by Renoir, gesture sketch by Clare Floyd DeVries

With this sketch I wanted to catch the Madonna-icon-like composition and the dark emphasis of Madame Monet's head (oddly enough, both aspects are less obvious in photos).  I think this is one of the reasons artists are taught to study by and through drawing - it makes you LOOK and NOTICE.

Various paintings from the Clark Art Institute at the Kimbell Art Museum, sketches by Clare Floyd DeVries

On this sketchbook page you can see my slap-happy composition of notes and sketches.  

I have a post card of Berthe Morisot's The Bath in front of me as I type; my scribble actually catches the interrupted-in-motion pose of the woman fixing her hair pretty well, but misses her challenging stare.  It's a lovely painting, all pastel-like pinks and that distinctive Impressionist blue, so much a part of Renoir's palette.  (The audio tour calls the bathtub "white" but its lining looks darn blue to me, its outside copper or rust).  Despite the pretty "feminine" colors and pose, this girl might be a tough cookie.

Also on this page is a fast-fast gesture drawing of Renoir's Sleeping Girl which, for me, ought to be titled Striped Socks.  There's something wonderfully real and quirky about those socks with blue stripes.  Cradled by the warm red chair, the girl's head, sleepy pose, drooping chemise... all standard loose woman issue... she could be anyone; but the sleeping cat is quite particular and those socks?  Unique.  I believe in this girl because of her socks.

You'll note that I wrote about Renoir's Onions but did not sketch them.  A B&W sketch would miss everything important: the wonderful brushwork and the color - the shimmer and translucence of coppery onion skin, the creamy, shadowy folds in the white cloth, the blue of the wall.

Saint-Charles, Eagny by Pissarro, Clark Art Institute at the Kimbell, sketch by Clare Floyd DeVries

Here I tried to catch only the tones of Pissarro's landscape - the darkness of these slender trunked trees against the sunlight.  There was a thin, thin, thin golden edge to the crest of the hill that I could not sketch, only label.  This view is painted at a long-shadows time of day (feels like morning to me) so that trees and hills are backlit and edges are gilded.  Unusually for Pissarro, this is painted in Pointillist style - an insanely slow way to get paint on a canvas.  No wonder Pissarro moved on to other methods, but this painting is very beautiful.

Okay.  There's the  Impressionists illustrated.  

Good show - at the Kimbell Art Museum - go see it!

BTW About copyright for my own sketches and photos.  Anyone who wishes to use them electronically (as in a blog) or Pin to them, or copy them for personal use or, heck, for trading cards! is welcome - though no selling them, please.  If you would credit them to me and link back, I'd appreciate it.

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