Tag Archives: Sketchbook

Russian Masters Study: Repin and Fechin Drawing

header_repin-fechin-study by Chris Legaspi

In late February, 2015 I began a journey to study Russian Academic drawing. I chose 2 of the most well known masters of the art, Ilya Repin and Nicolai Fechin.  Repin was a 19th century painter who helped to establish a tradition of realist, academic art in Russia and brought Russian art into the mainstream of European and western culture.  Fechin was a painter and sculptor who  moved to America where he became an admired and celebrated artist.

My reason or purpose for studying these Russian masters was to satisfy a curiosity and of course, for the mileage. What I wanted to know was how these men thought and worked. ‘How did they approach head drawing?’ and ‘how did they execute their drawings?’ were the questions I wanted answers to.

In the next 5 weeks, I studied their head drawings almost every day. During that time, I was able to record 2 of the studies (see video below):

To watch Part 2, the study of the reclining female, sign up for my free newsletter below.  Simply enter your email below and click the blue button to get access:

For a detailed breakdown of the month long (36 days!) journey,  read below.

Feb 22, 2015 – Day 1

repin_study01 by Chris Legaspi

I begin this journey by looking at Repin. I have been a fan of Repin for a long, long time. The West Coast / Reilly tradition that I inherited is heavily influenced by Russian academic drawing. So in a way, I was paying homage to the source of everything I had learned and come to love about realist drawing.

At first my goal was simply to observe and understand Repin’s technique and look. I love the way Russian artists draw heads and figures and how they approach form, edges and rendering. They’re use of straights and clearly defined planes is a hallmark of Russian academic drawing and that’s exactly the look I wanted to perfect in my own work.

As you can see in the image above, the first drawing on the left turned out o.k. The drawing on the right was not as successful in my opinion. The lesson I learned here was that it will be extremely difficult to reproduce the effects Repin achieved in his charcoal drawing by using ball point pen which is my current favorite medium.

To stay true to the master, it’s best to use the original medium. But I made a judgement call in the moment and on this day I paid the price for that decision.

Feb 24th – Getting Comfortable

repin_study02 by Chris Legaspi

As a look study, I feel these were successful. The drawings feel close  to the chiseled and hatched look I wanted.  Although the drawings are emotionally flat and lifeless compared to the originals, I was starting to feel comfortable using the pen to match Repin’s charcoal effects.

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Tonal Composition Studies

A few years ago, I asked several Artists and teachers about an effective way to self-study. They all suggested doing tonal composition studies from old masters.  Tonal Composition study is basically an exercise that develops observation skills. It teaches you how to observe, simplify and distil a complex image into big, simple shapes and 2-3 values.

Simplify, group and then simplfy some more is the lesson here. Below is an example of tonal composition studies I did from November 2011 to January 2012. These were drawn in my toned paper sketchbook, about 1-2 inches in size. See image below for complete materials list.

My daily tonal composition studies from November 2011 to January 2012.

My sketchbook and materials I typically sketch with. These are perfect for doing tonal studies and quick tonal renderings.

Studies of Rodin @ Legion of Honor Museum

These past 2 years I’ve been working intently and almost exclusively on foundation skills: ie. traditional drawing and painting.  Part of that traditional training is regular studies of the old masters.

I recently got the privilege to see master sculptor Auguste Rodin’s work at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, CA.  Since I have way more traditional drawings and paintings then digital/commercial work I’d like to start regularly posting sketchbook pages and other foundational studies.

“Rodin Study #1”, pen, marker and white pastel on toned paper.

“Rodin Study #2”, pen, marker and white pastel on toned paper.

Steve Huston Workshop Review – March 2010

After waiting years for a chance to study in-depth with legendary Artist and teacher, Steve Huston, I finally headed to the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art (LAAFA) to take part in Steve’s annual workshop. This workshop was a 5 day intensive focused on drawing and painting the figure. Although it was taught as a figuartive class, I learned so much more. I learned about art, myself and how Steve, aka “The Man” thinks, plans and executes his renowned gallery work.

The event was held at LAAFA in Van Nuys, California, from March 24-28th. This is a breakdown of the class each day and my thoughts going through the workshop.

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