March 5, 2006

Draw at a Museum

Filed under: beanquest, drawing — Brian @ 4:20 pm

Everyday Matters Drawing Challenge #38 is “draw at a museum,” which sounded like a great idea. My wonderful wife went with me and the boys, and took them to a kids’ thing so I could have some time to find and draw a few things.

I found “Morning Sun,” by Edward Hopper, who also did “Nighthawks“, one of my favorite paintings (beautifully used here), and I was excited to find something of his at the museum here. Nighthawks is at the Art Institute of Chicago, which I like to think I visited more often than I did when I lived near there. I did, however, always make sure to see Nighthawks every time I went.

My sketch of “Morning Sun,” from about 30 feet away – about 8 x 10 on my paper (28 x 40 on Hopper’s canvas)

It’s one thing, I think, to draw from a flat image; “all you have to do” is copy the flat shapes on the image you’re looking at. Sometimes that’s hard, but it seems always easier than drawing a 3D thing.

Here’s my attempt at a bust of a guy whose name and signifigance I forgot to note. He’s a life-sized bust in a dark material, drawn from about 15 feet away. He ended up pretty small – about 4 by 5 inches for the head.

To illustrate the difference to me in drawing from life vs drawing from an image, here’s a guy I copied from a book in the same style I tried to use for the bust, above:

I’m wondering if I have some “natural scale” that I draw at. Like some angular size that feels right to me on the paper. So, if something’s closer, it’ll “just turn out bigger” and vice versa. Looking back, it feels like the image on the paper was about the same percentage of my field of view as the actual bust was, across the room.

Something to pay attention to, and see what I can do to control.



  1. Beautiful sketches! When you first mentioned Nighthawk, I thought to myself, “that’s at the Chicago Art Institute!” But you already knew that. :-) I love that painting also and visit it every time I’m in Chicago (not often enough). My last vist, I also saw the large traveling Rembrandt exhibit (over 200 pieces)…an inspiring show! I’m glad you found the time and inclination to spend time in the museum, exploring your gift. You are clearly talented.

    Comment by Gwynne — March 6, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

  2. Oh, and also (I’m no art critic by any stretch, so take this with a grain of salt), I really prefer the “live” sketch from the 3-D bust over the more overworked portrait from the 2-D image. The first is cleaner, simpler, and yet has more depth…it feels more 3-D. It also has nice composition and balance.

    Comment by Gwynne — March 6, 2006 @ 11:38 pm

  3. Thank you, Gwynne! Isn’t it fun to see the real things up close? I definintely need to do that more often.

    And thank you so much for your second comment. I’d been thinking that the second (2-D) one looks fuller and more complete – and it *is* a more accurate reproduction than the 3-D one is.

    But I *want* the 3-D one to be better! You can only go so far copying other people’s stuff, and it’s way more fun to draw from life anyhow.

    I’m happy to hear that you see the good in that one – I think I’d missed it. I’ll have to pull it out and look at it some more.

    Comment by Brian — March 7, 2006 @ 6:46 am

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