Sunday, January 17, 2010
Sketching from Rembrandt
Standing nose to nose with and original Rembrandt sketch is one of the most simultaneously humbling and inspiring experiences an artist can have.
The main purpose of my trip to the Getty Center yesterday was to visit the temporary exhibit Rembrandt and his Pupils. The exhibit features numerous works from both the master himself and those of his students while examining the differences between them.
Rembrandt's lines are remarkably loose yet brilliantly informed. I was struck immediately by how loose and free his sketches were. However, each loosely placed line was clearly backed up by thorough knowledge and exquisitely trained draftsmanship. It's one thing to simply lay down a loose line and quite another to lay it down just as loosely but in the right place the first time!
The top three sketches and the bottom left sketch are studies from this exhibit. The top three are from Rembrandt's students and the bottom one is from the master himself (a head study from The Prodigal Son Returns). The bull on the right is from a Dutch drawing exhibit also currently on display at the Getty.
The Prodigal Son Returns. My experience studying from this masterful sketch was nothing short of extraordinary. Rembrandt's sketch explodes with life in gesture, line, tone and expression. Every aspect of the sketch contributes to the story that is being told. I chose (quite humbly indeed) to study the head of the father.
The challenge was to stay loose! Sketching from this master it is tempting to freeze up and draw tightly and carefully to avoid mistakes. But that misses the entire point. I forced myself to keep my pen moving loosely with no preliminary pencil sketches. Straight to ink.
Overall I feel like I had a successful trip. Partly because of my drawings but mostly because of the learning experience overall. At one point in the exhibit, Lauren pointed out to me a quote on a wall by one of Rembrandt's students. It was so perfect I had to write it down in my sketchbook. I have a close-up of it above.
Yep, that pretty much sums it up!
Posted by Nathanael Lark at 10:33 AM