Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ingres and Drawing/Painting

approx 8" x 10"
pencil on Canson paper

I think this is just about done. I may do a few touch-ups to the hair on both and the background. But, I'll give it a few days and look again with fresh eyes before I do anything else.

At the beginning of the month I promised a little bit of a discussion about drawing and painting. This is a huge area so you can believe that I'm just going to sketch some broad outlines. There is a great treatment of this in Sherry Camhy's The Art of the Pencil.

In Ingres' day, drawing was just considered a prep to painting. No one really turned out drawings for show then. All drawing was just to get to the perfect painting. Somewhere I read he was actually revolutionary in this regard, as he sold his pencil portraits (I don't know if that is true or not).

This is why Ingres took so much offense when people sought after his drawings. His paintings were the real work, the drawings were just to get food on the table. Anyone in his art world would have looked down on him for building a reputation with drawing. I mean, do you think today's NBA stars really respect the guys who only just warm up for each game and never really play?

Of course, things have changed since then. Now, as Camhy shows, it is extremely difficult to even define drawing and painting exclusively. They are more like ends of a spectrum. For instance, one often sees works in pencil today that are basically paintings done in graphite with a pencil. As well, there are outlines done with a paintbrush on a canvas that seem more like a drawing.

Of course, the interesting question is, if Ingres lived today, would he be happy being known as that pencil portraitist?

A couple of links for you:

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