Friday, September 12, 2008


This drawing is a copy of a Rubens painting done in charcoal for my figure studio class. The assignment was to find a painting of one of the past masters and copy it. We had a week to do it. This being the first assignment for the class we were told to have fun with it, as we haven't been introduced to concepts or principles. I took this to mean do the best you can with it. That is what I aimed to do. I have done these before as I have taken a class by this instructor already, so I felt I should just continue with what I had learned last class.

We only had a week to work on this, rather than the three to four weeks I have had on the past drawings. Because of this, I had to plan out what I wanted to get done for this copy as I work extremely slow when doing this kind of stuff. I decided to focus mainly on the figure, you will notice I have put the elements of the environment in the drawing but they are not fully rendered. Except for what she is leaning on, I felt that was necessary to render to some detail. Other than that, I tried to only hint at an environment.

I also decided that since we were to have fun with the project to do a couple of things that would not exactly be copying the original but staying true to it. I did this because I wanted to translate the drawing into something I would be able to do that kept a certain level of beauty. From past experience, I noticed that trying to slavishly copy, stoke for stroke, will get me a likeness but it doesn't necessarily give me a good drawing.

With that in mind I decided to first lower the overall value of the drawing. I did this because I am working from a reproduction and I have learned that reproductions are generally wrong about correct value and color, a problem with technology. I felt that trying to directly copy the values as they were I would have created a drawing with a light side and a dark side, with no middle tones. It would have looked weird. With one exception, I matched the value relationships as best I could.

That exception was a decision to emphasize the light as it hit the form to give the viewer a sense of a directional light source. In my reproduction I had a hard time seeing the differences in value on the form. Looking at image online I could see it and I figure that Rubens was so subtle in his transitions they get lost went printed on a personal printer. Anyway, I didn't have that in front of me so I determined were the light was coming from and worked the form as if that was how it should be.

Overall I am pleased with the result, though there are some mistakes I wished I had avoided. The legs are in the wrong place. I had originally drawn them too low and halfway finished with the drawing it was pointed out to me of my mistake. I tried to fix it as best I could but I still see the error. Also the drawing is fairly stiff, especially the face. Still, I am learning so I feel successful.

The drawing is 18 x 24 inches, charcoal on paper after Peter Paul Rubens' painting Leda and the Swan.

To see the original painting:

For more information on Rubens:


1 comment:

grandma B said...

This looks great. You are mastering the "Masters." This must be challenging. Love, Mom