Last week we had the chance to spend a morning in the Study Room of the Prints and Drawings Department at the British Museum. Beforehand, we could chose one or two drawings we would like to see. After I learned that my first two selections were out on loan, I settled on a Dürer with drawings on the recto and verso
and a Michelangelo similarly with drawings on both sides of the paper.
When we were preparing for this workshop, I realised that I had actively avoided ‘drawing from the masters’ despite its long history as a key element of art education. I think I simply lacked confidence in my own abilities. Which is, of course, a trap: if you don’t practise, your drawing won’t improve.
Anyway, we first had a discussion as a group about each person’s choices and other drawings selected by Isabel Seligman from the Department, who had organised the event. Here’s a Bridget Riley and a Lyn Chadwick.
Then we settled down to draw. In the end I only had time to focus on the Dürer. What I learned was:
- you can’t be vague. If you want to understand how Dürer drew, your marks must follow his exactly.
- you can’t rush. For the same reason: i.e. you need to make every mark Dürer made, however long it takes.
- you get better quite quickly. I’m quite proud of my hand (even if it did run off the page).
- I need to use a wider range of tones. I tend to linger around the mid-tones too much.
Here’s what I ended up with in the order that I did them.