Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sketch After Pierre-Paul Prud'hon: Head of Divine Vengeance

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (April 4, 1758 – February 16, 1823) was a romantic French painter known for his excellent draughtsmanship and his well-executed allegorical paintings.

Prud'hon was also considered eccentric and unorthodox in his drawing method. No one has quite figured out his method as he would stump between layers of hatches, often obscuring his marks. He never crosshatched though a few marks may suggest he did. But upon closer inspection, the hatches going in a diagonal across previous marks were laid down after stumping and in subsequent layers. Therefore, his marks were not technically crosshatched; his method was too deviant for crosshatches to be considered. Additionally, most of his marks seem to be applied parallel or diagonal to the planes of form.

Prud'hon's drawings transmit an inner light, a great luminosity. He allows a few hatches to show here and there which portray the individuality of the artist.

I copied one of his drawings in an effort to learn a little bit about how Prud'hon worked. I acquired blue Ingres paper made in Germany, some Contes in black and white (grades HB, B, and 2B), a chamois, a putty eraser, and stumps and tortillons.

I first did a graphite drawing, then I outlined the drawing in a hard black Conte. I used the chamois to remove as much of the Conte as I could. I wanted a ghost image but ended up with a darker outline. This problem prevailed throughout the drawing. Perhaps I should have added padding under the drawing? A lighter touch? Or maybe I should make my own softer crayons.

At any rate, I was happy with the drawing and I learned a great deal. One of the things I learned is that I need to loosen up, let my personality come through a drawing despite the fact that I'm "copying." I also learned that Prud'hon's method is more like painting that drawing. I pushed the Conte around a lot with the stump. Drawing is also like painting in that it is a series of corrections.

Copying drawings from the Masters will be a life long adventure for me. Drawing is just as important as painting.

Prud'hons "Head of Divine Vengeance
Black and white chalk on blue laid paper - the blue has faded to a tan
My copy of Prud'hon's "Head of Divine Vengeance"
Black and white chalk on blue Ingres (laid) paper

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