Greetings fellow wayfarers and searchers!

“Well, Brother Owl, here we are on our THIRD Newsletter  …  a month and a half into it with a whopping THREE subscribers.  I think we should quit while we’re behind because at that rate we’re wasting our time.”

“Brother Rabbit,  look at what time of year it is.  April.  Beautiful in VA with Spring all around.  Did you plant anything in the Spring last year?”

“Zinnias.  We had gobs of beautiful zinnias all summer and well into the fall.  What does that have to do with anything?”

“Brother Rabbit, did you start from plants or seeds?”

“If I bought plants I would have been broke.  Seeds it was.  Again, what does this have to do with sickly Newsletter traffic?”

“How many zinnias were you able to pick a week after you planted them?”

“None.”

“Well, there you are Brother Rabbit.  We are in the April of our Newsletter.  Gardening, life, and newsletters take three things to be successful: Faith, sweat, and perseverance. With that, there are still no guarantees other than hopefully learning through the process to get results that reward the effort.

As the executioner tightened the noose, his advice to the convicted was: ‘Hang in there.'”

“OK, Brother Owl it’s my time for the Question of the bi-week. I chose an appropriate one for where we are in our Newletter following.

Question of the bi-week

“So the only thing we can do is to ask our dear readers to spread the word and go to our website:
                                                                                        www.austinschmitt.org
and ask their friends and enemies to sign up for the Newsletter (It’s one way of getting back at your enemies).
“So Brother Owl, what have you been up to over the past two weeks?”

“Struggling to improve my drawing.”

“What did that entail?”

“Copying a Bargue rendering.”

“What the heck is that?”

“As the website Bargue Art Supply explains:

‘In the mid-19th century, a pair of artists, Charles Bargue and Jean-Léon Gérôme, undertook an ambitious project: to standardize the teaching of art with a set of instructional drawings. These became known as the Bargue Plates.

Born in the flames of the French academic art tradition, the Bargue Plates were created for the express purpose of training aspiring artists in the correct representation of the human figure. The plates were a collection of detailed lithographs, carefully etched by Bargue under Gérôme’s supervision, capturing the beauty and intricacies of human anatomy, sculpture, and classical art. They served as an integral part of the French art curriculum, used in academies across Europe.

However, with the rise of Impressionism and the advent of photography, the Bargue Plates gradually faded into obscurity. The Impressionists, led by artists like Monet and Renoir, rebelled against the stringent techniques of the Académie, favoring instead the spontaneity and fluidity of capturing light, color, and mood. Photography, too, had a profound impact. With the ability to capture reality with scientific precision, it began to eclipse the painstakingly detailed sketches of the Bargue Plates.

So the focus shifted from painstaking precision to capturing light, color, and fleeting moments. Art evolved and branched out into different forms and styles. The rigorous, formal training of the Bargue Plates was considered too restrictive, too time-consuming, and was gradually forgotten.

Yet, the Bargue Plates were not entirely forgotten. Greats such as Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso held them in high esteem, recognizing their value in mastering the essentials of drawing. In their hands, the plates were more than just a tool for learning; they were a source of inspiration, offering a foundation on which they built their unique styles.

And so we come to the present day. In the 21st century, the Bargue Plates have been rediscovered, their immense value recognized once more. Artists, teachers, and students are turning back to these extraordinary lithographs, acknowledging their importance in understanding and mastering the fundamentals of drawing.

 

 “Ok Brother Owl, I asked for the time and you built me a clock as far as Charles Bargue.  What about your struggle?”

I decided to take a complementary youtube course (29 video lessons) from the DaVinci Initiative on Bargue and the 21st Century where the instructor show the Bargue method of drawing a forearm.  That was a real struggle taking several weeks.

“Can you show me?”

“Sure..  The first photo is near the beginning.  The Bargue Plates are on the left and my attempt to copy it on the right.  There are two Bargue plates: an upper outline of the arm and a lower completed arm.  The student starts with copying the upper Bargue plate on the left and draws the outline and structure of the arm to the paper on the right.  Below is the beginnings of the outline.

I continued with adding more detail and clarity to the outline.
I  then tooke the lower Bargue plate on the left above and put it on top of the upper outline Bargue plate so now I was only looking at the fully shaded Bargue plate.  I then used that to add the dark shadow definition to the arm outline drawing on the right.  It’s getting closer but still has a ways to go on the shading.  It doesn’t look like much but is the result of many hours of tedious attempts at perfection.
It’s amazing that the paper on the right is not full of holes given the incessant starts, stops, erasers, re-starts, re-stops, re-erasers for practically every pencil stroke. I(t’s still not finished and has a ways to go with the shading.
“I guess I see your point Brother Owl about struggle.  If after hours and hours you still only have an unfinished pencil rendering of an arm. Have you learned anything?”

“True classical art is not for the faint-hearted and such created beauty only comes from struggle, patience, and perseverance.”

“Did you ever finish it?”

“I’m burned out now Brother Rabbit.  An answer to that question will have to await another Newsletter.”

Until next time Dear Reader, as Obi-Wan Kenobi put it:

Goodbye, old friend. May the Force be with you.