Bust of Cleopatra – after Michelangelo

I’m continuing my drawing self-study…who better to learn from than one of the old masters, good old Michelangelo himself. I did this one with no grid or other optical aid, tryin’ to train the eye and hone the discipline. Prolly took me around 7 hours or so over 5 sessions. This is HB pencil on some Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper that I toned with a 6B graphite stick. It’s about 4×6 inches.

Bust of Cleopatra (after Michelangelo), drawn by Airn LeBus

Angel painting completed

For other posts about this painting view the angel category where I show the dead layer underpainting and etc.

I finished my angel painting on Feb 14th. It was started in late September 2008 and was meant as a Christmas present for my ma, although I knew pretty early on it would be done rather later than Christmas.
This is 8×10 inches and is oil on panel:
Angel oil painting in frame

Angel oil painting in frame

Angel painting detail

Angel painting detail

I kept track of my painting hours and took many pages of notes on this painting. Total time just on the painting itself was about 35 hours, that should be pretty accurate since I noted each session. I did not keep track of all the initial drawing and later planning though, a rough guess is at least 8 hours spread out over weeks. So total time on this was maybe 43 hours. Wow, I think that is a long time. A lot of that is learning and sometimes doing things over, as I get better something like this could take a lot less time, for instance I wasn’t sure what to do on the wings and made several fairly major changes. I initially was glazing very thin color over them, but eventually abandoned that technique for the wings at least and put the paint on much more thickly, although the underpainting still shows through. Similar thing on the crown, so many of those hours would not have been spent if I was a bit more sure of what to do.

Dust was an issue with this, especially on the small 8×10 format and with the glazing, I tried my best to keep dust off the layers but some ended up ingrained in the painting. It’s not too distracting though and it’s only really noticeable if you are searching for it under a bright light. I always let my paintings dry leaning against something face-down to keep the dust to a minimum…keeping the painting dust-free is kind of constantly in my mind as I’m working.

Glazing the face worked out very well, when you view this painting in real life it has a warm glow to the face which I believe is the optical consequence of the light traveling through the transparent top layers and through to the opaque underpainting. Next time I will ensure the underpainting is TOTALLY done to my liking, on this one it wasn’t complete enough before I started the glazing, and I had to do a lot of corrections to the eyes and such.

Girl Wearing a Veil (after Vigee Le Brun)

I really admire Elizabeth-Louise Vigee-Le Brun and the impressive number of wonderful paintings she has left us. Later I will try to copy at least of one of her paintings, mostly for learning purposes, but for now I tried duplicating one of her chalk drawings. This was kinda a quickie, maybe I will try a better one later with chalk or graphite…I was not too into colored pencils, I rarely use them and now I remember why. I couldn’t really erase and they break when I try to sharpen them with my normal sharpener, I was just flailing in general.

Still I like this enough to post it here. I wanted to do this without a grid or any visual aid, and I’m happy with the likeness, the shading and such was rough but the overall form worked out pretty well. I’ve been working through the exercises in “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook” and some of the sighting stuff and negative space tips etc have definitely helped me, I had tried this same drawing a few weeks ago with a much crummier result. I’m also really learning to stop and check the work out from a few feet away, upside down, etc, to prevent problems with proportion and other unhappy surprises later.

Next I am trying a drawing by Michaelangelo, this time with graphite pencils (that I can erase) on smooth paper (on which I can shade smoothly).

Here is my drawing after Vigee-Le Brun, my version is about 4×5 inches and is colored pencils on fairly rough, colored paper:

Drawing after Vigee-Le Brun

Drawing after Vigee-Le Brun, Girl Wearing a Veil