Sketches in Sanguine

I love experimenting with dry media, but having moved around a lot since school has meant that I’ve had to restrict myself somewhat. I look forward to calling some place home for longer than a year, so that I can really kick back and have a sort of studio space just for myself. In the meantime, I ordered myself volumes containing the drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Their drawings are by far my favourite of any, although I have to say my favourite painters would probably be Baroque masters Ruben and Rembrandt. (My favourite artist of any kind of any time however is sculptor Lorenzo Bernini).

It’s fascinating to flick through these books- they’re so much more revealing than paintings, and in my opinion, so much more interesting. When making a pitch for a commission, artists didn’t just make sketches for what the completed sculpture, statue or painting would look like; they’d also have to organize the resourcing of materials, design contraptions to allow for the transport of blocks of marble or bronze or whatever was needed. This was a time when paints were expensive and not commercially available. Certain colours were more expensive than others- certain shades of blue, for instance, was made of crushed blue lapis lazuli gemstones. Even paper was expensive, which would explain why so many sketches overlap and so many diagrams are crammed together on the same sheet.

The one lingering regret I have in my life is that I never received proper art lessons. My mother, despite being a professional artist and designer, never thought to push me down the same path at an early age. If I could turn the clock back to when I was five or six, I would find myself a real master to learn from. As it turned out, I’ve had to find my masters between the pages of art history books and on the clouds of the world wide web. Which is not something I’m cribbing about exactly, because there’s great pleasure to be had in learning from sources that aren’t actively trying to teach. Moreover, the one good thing about learning from people who lived five hundred years ago is that they can’t refuse you; they’re public domain now. Anyone can be a student. I definitely want to work my way through these volumes and make studies of their studies. Equestrian sketches in particular are awe inspiring because of just how beautiful horses are in all their movements. The first two were just sketches done without referenced, the third one is a red chalk and ink sketch of a couple of Leonardo’s red chalk and ink sketches.

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