I mentioned the other day that drawing with two colors of pencil for the under-drawing was something that I discovered while in France. This last weekend I went with a friend to the Legion of Honor Museum here in SF. In the Bouguereau there, we noticed the same practice being demonstrated. In the piece, “The Broken Pitcher”, forms facing the sky were drawn with a grey pencil, the undersides of forms where the blood pooled, were drawn with red. I went back and reviewed my notes from France and this is what I recorded at the Louvre after looking at Barocci, Gros, David, Bougeureau, and Correggio:

“Barocci used an underpainting of approximately 10PB 6-7/2. (I am showing some drawings too, as these drawings do show the use of colored chalks, and the advancing and receding forms). For those not familiar with Munsell that means a gray purple blue. He then over drew the forms with a hot pink for all forms that advance into the light, and with a blue for all forms that move into shadows. He then models the form of the women and children with a high value pink, the men are model more russet with sienna.”

“It is so obvious to me know how these guys worked! Looking at the self-portrait by David, he is drawing on a value 6 grey canvas with a porte-crayon. On one side he uses black chalk, and the other side has white. All the paintings I’ve seen with artists with the same implements in their hands, I now finally understand. They were drawing the light side with the white and dark side with the black! Duh! Similar to Barocci’s blue and pink!”

“I have finally figured out Sfumato. Looking at Correggio, Barocci, and Jean Raoux, I see that sfumato really means fused edged forms. There are very few hard edges in Barocci’s and Correggio’s paintings. Sharp edges are in the foreground, advancing toward the viewer. But, it is still drawing, drawing, drawing!”

On the piece pictured above, you can really see how soft all the edges of the hand are compared to the exacting sharpness of the white edge of the paper.

“The overwhelming feeling I have while looking at these paintings is that I can do what they did! The most important thing as I have come to see is the proper prior planning. Painting a large piece (like the Monsterpiece) is just time consuming, but the really important work is done in the studies. The drawing, the drawing, the drawing. It is so simple. If you can draw, you can paint. If you can draw, you can paint!”

-Notes from France~2010