Drawing: Great Masters – Rembrandt

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Rembrandt Van Rijn “Saskia Asleep”, The Pierpont Morgan Library, NY

What is a drawing study?  A drawing study is a rough sketch drawn to gain information only.   The above work by Rembrandt shows how a study can become a delightful piece of work in its own right.

In this work above, Rembrandt has used loose brushstrokes with washes added for tone. This piece shows mainly an “uncontrolled” style, however, there are small areas of control in the faces and hands of his subjects. The switch to the “controlled” hand gives a delightful balance to the carefree strokes elsewhere.  Rembrandt usually used pen and ink/brush in his studies, ideal for showing the quality of line (changing thickness of line weight.)  His rapid style lends much vitality to this work.

Beautiful soft tones surround the figures and you will see thick black accents under the head, arm and pillow to ground and give weight to the figures. Rembrandt was highly aware of light and shadow and in this sketchiest of works he shows the presence of same.

A calligraphy or “sumi” brush can attain different width of strokes like Rembrandt.  Bear down for the thick strokes and use only the point for thinner lines.

Do you like Rembrandt’s style of drawing?  Do you enjoy being influenced by the great masters?  Does this influence help you to try new ways of drawing?


Drawing and Your Handwriting

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Eugene Delacroix, Study of Lions. Graphite, David Adler Collection, Art Institute of Chicago

“If it is necessary to rough cast with a broom, it is necessary to finish off with a needle”. Eugene Delacroix http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Delacroix

Each of us is unique!

When we write, it is with a distinctly different style to everyone else.  We express our writing craziness subconsciously.

Most, if not all of us, write in 2 different ways.  If you scribble a note to a friend, this could be called “intuitive” or “free writing”.  When you do your best writing on a card to your parents, you use what could be called “controlled” or “analytical writing”.

The “scribble” or “intuitive” style is usually drawn first in an attempt to grasp the essence, the spirit or the feeling of what we are drawing. The “controlled” style comes into play when we want to refine, sharpen and crystallize what we have drawn after we have scribbled the gesture of what we want to draw.

The free drawing style could be described as quick, sketchy, confident, impulsive and loose.  The controlled style could be described as precise, careful, detailed, cautious, patient and deliberate.

It helps to keep these two styles apart, otherwise the “controlled” style  blocks the loose scribble that we need to start off with.

Take the above example from Eugene Delacroix.  In this study of the lion, he has used the free hand to feel out the forms early in the drawing.  The random, repeated marks over the foreleg reinforce the form.

The first lines are vague and loose yet give direction for the more accurate lines to follow. Lots of stopping and starting feeling out lines in your drawing followed by strong focusing indicate confidence, flexibility and liveliness.

Oh to have a drawing jumping off the page with liveliness!  Oh to have the picture surface vibrate!

You’ve Got to be Joking!



My quote today is from Bagwan Rajneesh..

“Whenever you see seriousness,

Know well something is wrong – 

Because seriousness is part of a diseased being.

No flower is serious unless it is ill.

No bird is serious unless it is ill.

An awakened man realizes life is a song.”

It could be said our lives are built upon the idea of limitation and struggle.  Could it be that out sense of limitation comes from seeing ourselves as separate and struggling to survive in what seems a hostile world?

Peak moments arise when this separate sense of self vanishes.  These primal experiences can be experienced during prayer, love making, meditation, music, art or whenever separation from life dissolves.  In this state the person returns home to their source or God if you like.

Meditation can happen while gardening, cycling, running, doing housework and in all those repetitive things we do.

All the more reason to make music, make art, write, photograph, meditate and make love!

Drawing – Create Cohesive Magic


Check out this crazy, yet striking drawing! This man’s clothes are totally merged with the background yet you still get the impression he is sitting with his shoulder and hand resting on the arm of the chair.

It is possible to create a unified pattern with an amazing design device!

The idea is to leave no boundary lines between one object and another or even the background as you see above.  This idea can be used when any two adjoining shapes are the same tone (or almost the same.) Dark shapes, white or middle tone shapes can all be merged just as well.

Deliberately merging the shapes in only one or two places in your drawing is enough to create cohesive magic.

Check these out!


The black dresses are merged at the knees but separate at the shoulder making these ladies strangely together yet apart.


These cows are tied together by their black shapes yet you still see them as cows only in a more exciting and dynamic way.

Are you willing to try embracing opposite qualities simultaneously? You will be surprised at the spontaneous opportunities you will find to use this great skill, all to the benefit of your drawing practice!

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists

After 911

“One word frees us from the weight and pain of life, that word is love”. Sophocles