We’ve been outside for the last few weeks but now it’s time to buckle-down and get back to strengthening your ability to accurately observe and recall shapes. To that end we’re going to use a figure drawing by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon.
Your task it to copy this drawing, from memory, as precisely as possible (only larger).* You will work on the same drawing each day.
To begin, print out the drawing (a direct link to the file itself is here). Next, draw a vertical center-line on the figure and mark the top and bottom. Give yourself three other markers. If you have gone through this course from the beginning and/or have my book, these instructions will make more sense.
On a large sheet of grey-toned drawing paper, copy all of the aforementioned marks using charcoal. However, instead of copying the marks one for one (in the same size), copy them larger. As an example, if the center-line on your printout is 10 inches tall, make the drawing 20 inches tall on your drawing paper. Be sure to make these marks lightly because you will erase them at some point. Be careful to get all of the marks accurate, relative to your source and to each other. This is very important.
When you’re ready for the day’s session, tape or tack the photocopy to an easel or your studio wall. Pay attention to all of the shape relationships in the drawing and also mentally note the value patterns. Now and then turn around describe what you’re memorizing, out loud and in as much detail as you can. Then, view the source again and compare what you see to what you’ve said.
Memorize the drawing for no more than ten minutes. Go into another room (or cover up the source) and try to draw it in charcoal onto the prepared paper.
After you’ve done your best, compare your effort to the original.
On the next day (and everyday hereafter during this week), begin by comparing your drawing with the original once again. Pay attention to everything: shape, value and edge. Compare, compare, compare. Mentally note your mistakes, then, put your drawing out of sight and go through the memorization process again.
After the ten minutes of observation/memorization, work on the drawing. Begin by correcting the mistakes that you made from the previous day’s effort.
As the days go by, start to pay attention to how Prud’hon turned the form in the drawing and try to capture that in your own drawing.