Romancing the Statue

Cast Drawings were a very important part of an artist’s training in classical drawing and painting.

A young, aspiring art apprentice might have sat in the courtyard staring at the sculpted art of Michelangelo, slowly out lining, measuring and sketching the form per his master’s orders. Years later, art schools purchased casts made of plaster and used them in preparation for drawing the live form. The old master’s method of cast drawing, today, is not taught as often as it once was. Casts of sculptures are rare and expensive, and the teaching methods have evolved away from cast drawing.

Yet, I have been lucky enough to know two instructors who insist that to pass up the cast is to miss a step in the learning to draw process. The lessons? Shadow, light, line and perspective, basic components of training the eye to see and the hand to draw.

Placing the cast in a Shadow Box lined in black paint or black material and shining a spotlight on the cast illuminates the cast with no outside light influence. The result is an almost scientific experiment in light and shadow as it falls on the cast. Picking out the biggest shapes in shadow and light becomes easier with high contrast and sharp edges to launch the drawing from.

This painting was done from a ceramic figurine I picked up, because it reminded me of some of the plaster casts I have seen. The difference between ceramic and plaster are many, but as far as painting is concerned, we deal with two completely different surfaces. Light is absorbed by the plaster cast, but a ceramic surface reflects light, making some of the shadows less defined and a bit harder to see. Painting this piece was challenging and the folds of the toga attire added to the fun. I could imagine myself in the heart of Rome painting some of the oldest and most famous statues in the world. The bust figurine is less than 4 inches tall, but, isn’t imagination wonderful?

“Romancing the Statue” is an 8×10 oil on canvas-board and is part of the Painting Today series.

Who knows? I may try again and bring him to “life” with a bit more color! Thanks for stopping by. I certainly appreciate it!

DSC_0802 posterized

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