In this post I would like to highlight one of the ways I like to learn by sketching from paintings I love in galleries and Museums. If you love a particular painting, especially if it is a portrait, one of the ways of understanding how the artist went about it is to sketch it. Working in this way can really help to improve your understanding of how artists edit information and concentrate on what matters most to them. I have two in this post, as seen below.
Learning from Anastasia Pollard RP
I really like the work of Anastasia Pollard. She paints very small scale sensitive portraits from life. The one I have sketched from here is not illustrated but it was a wonderful little portrait that measured 8" x 7", titled "Nick" it was exhibited at the Mall Galleries last year during the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition. I remember standing in front of this little piece for hours. I kept coming back to it. When I couldn't get my head around it I decided to sketch it, now the experience is with me for ever. Even though you can't see the painting in colour-you can tell from the sketch that it had a very solid tonal foundation and that's one of things I was trying to explore. Other things that were of interest to me were the way she handled the temperature changes. When next in a gallery or museum and you are carried away by a favourite piece-don't let the experience go by your visual response only-put it down and it would remain with you forever.
Portrait of Nick by Anastasia Pollard-added after comment by Vinayak
Learning from Velazquez
Diego Velazquez is one of my favourite painters of all time and again it is the manner in which he edits information that excites me the most. This page spread is just one of the several I did from original paintings during The Velazquez Exhibition at the National Gallery in 2006. It's good to do the sketching but also to write notes of what you think you need to remember about the way the artist distributes tone or anything you feel is worth noting for future references. Keep sketching!
"If work is fresh and new, you can't expect to like it straightaway, because you have nothing to compare it with.
The effort of coming to terms with things you don't understand makes them all the more valuable to you when you do grasp them.
Good art speaks for itself. That doesn't mean you have to like it.
So the next time you go to an art show, or look at anything for that matter, observe what effect it has on you and try to form your own opinion.
That way you become the critic and not a mouthpiece for someone else's opinions."
-Paul Arden author of Whatever you think, think the opposite.