Friday, January 07, 2011

Learning by Sketching from Paintings in Galleries/Museums

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!

Special Quote
"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.


Idrio said...

nice ! i sometimes think its a bit faking when doing this, but as you do it, it must be ok :)tomorrow i'm going to check out some paintings of kees van dongen in rotterdam, and i'll sketch some of those

adebanji said...

Great Niek! Go for it!

Christopher Guilfoil said...


What are you using for the tones alongside the pen lines?

Sadami said...

Dear Adebanji,
Me, too, do sketch Masters at a State Gellery or a museum. Very good for learning. Next Monday, I'll upload my sketches for the blog. Keep up!
Cheers, Sadami

Art, Love and Life said...

Thanks for your tip Adebanji
I go to lots of exhibitions in Edinburgh and have sometimes wondered about doing some sketching. It can feel daunting with a lot of people around!
The annual Turner exhibition is on during January at the National Gallery of Scotland. I have learned a lot about watercolour by just looking at what he has done.

Good wishes for 2011

adebanji said...

Christopher,I am using a simple TOM BOW felt wash pen, Number 75.
Great Sadami!
It's a great experience ray and I can only say KEEP IT UP!

Lokelani Forrest said...

I enjoy sketching but don't do it much and have not gotten into the habit of having my sketchbook with me all the time. That's something I need to spend more time on. Thanks for the very interesting post.

adebanji said...

Lokelani, I am happy you've picked this out, the sketchbook is your weapon! In it, lies everything that you'll need in the present and the future- you'll be able to grab it at arm's length whenever you see something that grabs your attention-the smaller the better. I normally use one that measures 4" x 6". I think the one I used for the Velasquez sketches measures 6" x 6".

V. Deshmukh said...

Wow Adebanji, the sketches are lovely. I looked up for the portrait you have mentioned here "Nick" by Anastasia Pollard on Google. Even in such situations you capture the likeness perfectly. I guess these skills come only with the kind of incessant sketching that you do. You inspire me. I will also start doing such sketches.
Thanks for sharing, both the sketch and the experience.

adebanji said...

Vinayak, thanks for this, I have just checked this on google myself and I have seen it! I will add to my blogpost as it is such a wonderful little portrait.
Yes, it is sketching, sketching and sketching, no more, no less!