Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Drawings from the Met

Christ Child after Rubens from The Holy Family with St. Elizabeth, St. John, and a Dove, 2009, ball point pen in moleskine sketchbook
My trips to the Met Museum continue, it's a place where I find peace and inspiration. I always bring my moleskine sketchbook with me, at times I come out with about three drawings in one visit, and sometimes none at all. It all depends on my mood I guess. When I visit I don't go in with ideas as to what I'll be drawing, it always happens by surprise, when standing in front of a work of art automatically drives my hands to respond by pulling out my pen and sketchbook. Such was the case with the drawing above, a quick sketch of the enchanting Rubens. His work always captures me, there is some much movement in his paintings, and in this sketch I was trying to capture that kind of movement happening in the body of the Christ Child.
From the Birth of the Virgin after Francesco Solimena, 2009, ball point pen in moleskine sketchbook
I'm usually happy with my sketches, specially since I'm drawing with an unforgiving tool such as a pen. There are times though wen I fail, and the drawing above is a testament to this. I don't know what happened here, perhaps I was drained from looking at so much art, but the bottom line is that I drew it, and badly. The Birth of the Virgin is one of my favorite works in the Met, the size of this painting is very large and the composition has so much going on. I couldn't choose which part of the painting to draw, and so the figure that was closest to me seemed to be a good choice. What I found interesting about the this figure was the way her arm went back in space into a shadow area, her delicate hand catching some light at the finger tips. I heard somewhere that if you can paint or draw and hand correctly you can pretty much execute anything. I don't think I was ready for that test yet as this drawing shows my lack of ability to draw a good hand. It's all a learning experience though, we all learn from our mistakes.
Dancing Fawn after Gaspero Bruschi, 2009, ball point pen in moleskine sketchbook
This Dancing Fawn has a little story behind it. Previously, in 2008 to be exact, I found this beautiful male nude sculpture by Gaspero Bruschi in one of the little galleries tucked away in the first level of the museum. I drew it in my sketchbook then, sometime later at the end of the year by messenger bag was stolen from a Bar/Restaurant in Manhattan. In that bag was my moleskine sketchbook containing the first drawing of Bruschi's sculpture. I never had a chance to scan the drawing, and now it is lost forever. In 2009 I went on a scavenger hunt in the Met trying to find this piece again so that I could draw it. Eventually I did and here it is, the new Dancing Fawn.
Venus Giving Arms to Aeneas after Jean Cornu, 2009, ball point pen in moleskine sketchbook
Next to Bruschi's sculpture was another breathtaking piece by sculptor Jean Cornu. It was the three dimensional equal to a Rubens painting with Venus floating on the top coming down to face Aeneas, as he looks up curving his torso backwards. I drew Aeneas' face, it reminded me of the ideal male beauty established centuries ago by Michelangelo with his David and with the depiction of Adam the Sistine Chapel.
Left: God Confronting Cain after He Slew Abel after Francesco Fontebasso; Right: The Young Bacchus Kneeling in a Landscape after Guercino, 2010, ball point pen in moleskine sketchbook
These two drawings were done on a visit to one of the recent Met's exhibitions on Italian drawings. I forget what exhibit this was, but I can assure you it was incredible.
Portrait of a Man after Workshop of Velazquez, 2010, graphite in moleskine sketchbook
It is very rare that I draw with pencil in my sketchbook. the smoothness of the paper doesn't allow the pencil to remain in place too long, reason why I draw with pen. I have been venturing into using pencil and I don't mind the look, but what I have noticed is that it takes twice the amount of time to do a pencil sketch than with a pen. Pencil automatically makes me get very detailed, and I become obsessed with shading. This is the second time I've sketched Portrait of a Man, but this time around it turned out better. In this drawing I can see my growth in drawing, I admit once again, cast drawing does help tremendously! To see the first drawing from 2007 click here.

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