Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Drawing Renaissance Inspired Portraits

by Katie Whipple 

It was towards the end of my first year at GCA when I flipped through a borrowed copy of Dover's "Holbein Portrait Drawings" for the first time. My knowledge of Renaissance works was severely limited, and I was amazed by how much I loved these simple line drawings. Four years of study at GCA and many art books later, I headed to Italy to drink up all the old masters had to offer. Almost accidentally, I dove head first into the Renaissance. 

Hans Holbein the Younger, "Sir Richard Southwell" 1537

Drawing is my first love, and portrait drawing perhaps my second. From the day I realized I could draw a face and make it actually look like someone, I was hooked. I had a similar experience when I arrived in Rome, unexpectedly becoming dazzled by Filippo Lippi and hooked on the Quattrocento. In copying Lippi's works, I realized I was rediscovering everything I loved about drawing. Painters of the Quattrocento and Renaissance have an exquisite understanding of line. These artists were able to use line to describe form, volume, light effect, and structure so elegantly and simply. And on top of that, the beauty of design in these finished pieces and studies took my breath away. 

 Copy of Filippo Lippi drawing by Katie Whipple, "Head of a Woman" 1452

In this upcoming workshop, I want to explore and share these elements of drawing that make my heart skip a beat. There is so much to be learned from old master drawings. However, painters often copy a drawing or painting giving little thought to how they will apply the ideas and techniques to their own work. Even the seemingly primitive drawings (to our contemporary eye) of the early 15th century have so much to contribute to current techniques and methods. 

"Self Portrait after Holbein" Katie Whipple, 2013

Filippo Lippi described his work as "a deliberate blend of the plausible with the beautiful." Constantly striving for this in my own work, I hope students in this workshop will be encouraged to blend the beautiful techniques and aesthetic of the Renaissance with the likeness and character of a live model. 

"Filip" Katie Whipple, 2014

Drawing the Portrait in Chalk: Renaissance Inspired Portrait Workshop with Katie Whipple, a three day portrait drawing workshop. September 19th-21st. Learn more and sign up! 

1 comment:

Mr. Alarm said...

Thanks for sharing, Katie! Holbein had a similar effect on me too, and I made a bunch of copies. Not sure what they looked like originally, perhaps exactly as they do now, but at any rate, they have a nice soft (barely visible pencil or chalk) edge in some areas, and then areas like lips and eyes are put down in strong, exact inked lines. Obviously a young artist name Ingre also learned much from Holbein. Keep up the good work! ~ Jerry Dienes