Learning Chiaroscuro – Lauren

The critique: an essential, but ultimately dreadful, desideratum of the artist.

I spent my tuesday night having my portfolio picked at with a fine toothed comb. I was nervous as it was, it being my first critique, but my anxiety only heighten when I laid out all my pieces and saw the lack of variety in my work. My observational drawings were bland, my prints compositionally compromised, and my motifs unclear. I sat there and listened to a college representative from one of my prospective colleges validate my fears.

I walked away dejected, but with a new set of goals laid out for my artistic processes. Of all the flaws my work has, I was told my lack of developed understandings of value were the most dibilitating. All of my figurative drawings had minimal value gradients, which makes them flat, and uninteresting. All together, they were very weak pieces that represented my artistic ability poorly. Charcoal has never been my strong suit, but I never thought my skills and visions to be so under developed. It was… enlightening to say the least.

Value is the range of tones and light variants in artistic work. Value is what gives dimension to a drawing; what makes it interesting to look at, or realistic/natural. Think of value as contrast in a photograph. The higher contrast you can get without losing detail, the more defined, concise, and clear the image is. This same concept can be applied to drawing. To illustrate how beneficial value is, I’ll use the artist recommended to me by the college representative: Caravaggio.

"Narcissus"  By Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio  circa 1597-1599

“Narcissus”
By Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio
circa 1597-1599

"David and Goliath" By Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio  Circa 1599

“David and Goliath”
By Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio
Circa 1599

"Sleeping Cupid"  Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio  Circa 1608

“Sleeping Cupid”
Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio
Circa 1608

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caravaggio’s work looks so natural and realistic because of his use of value. Rather than depending on the light to manifest his work, he incorporates strong, dark values to make his figures robust, and more complex. The technique he uses is called chiaroscuro. This is the imperative proficiency that my work lacks. Rather than using darks to my advantage while manipulating the image, I fear them. Though the representative’s criticism was a hard pill to swallow, I’m walking away with a new awareness of my work.

As is my way of learning, I returned to behance in search of modern artists who represent good uses of value in drawings (where as Caravaggio represents value in  paintings).

https://www.behance.net/gallery/6108295/Hands-2011-2012

In my persuit, I came upon Alexander Landerman. Though his studies are simple, he incorporates lovely tones in the hands, particularly in the pieces in the middle of the link.

"Untitled"  By Alexander Landerman circa 2011-2012

“Untitled”
By Alexander Landerman
circa 2011-2012

He also has wonderful portrait work that reflects a strong understanding of value in the human figure, which were on his profile.

Another artist who’s work I found intriguing was Damian Goidich (also on behance)

https://www.behance.net/gallery/10600671/Figurative-(2010-2013)

His figurative series is wonderful because he uses sharp values that provide contrast, while still keeping a soft touch in the figure

"Alexandra's Rage"  By Damian Goidich  circa 2012

“Alexandra’s Rage”
By Damian Goidich
circa 2012

"War all the Time"  By Damian Goidich  circa 2012

“War all the Time”
By Damian Goidich
circa 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So in essence, it was a hard week in terms of recuperating my goals in the art world. I’ll be taking the knowledge I’ve been given, and applying the skills I’ve observed in all three of these artists.

ACCU ARTIST FORECAST: 

Some quality charcoal drawings, attempting chairoscuro.

The kickstart of printmaking monotypes.

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