Wednesday, 29 June 2011

study for 'Hylas and the Nymphs', John William Waterhouse, circa 1896

There's something about classical studies like this that really appeals to me. The sensitive pencil work is perfectly fitting for the ambient, dreamy atmosphere of the scene in the story.

In fact, I believe that sketches like this are often far superior to the painstakingly painted visions that they precede. There is a massive difference, visually, between the paintings and the sketches. In this example, the subtle shading of the women's faces contrasts with the wavy, gestural pencil lines, details which are lost in the final paintings which appear bland and airbrushed in comparison.

As a fan of inky, sketchy styles of illustration, I suppose it does make sense that the sketches are more interesting to me (not to say that I am not amazed by Waterhouse's painting talent!). In the studies we see the freedom of the artists' hand movement; the pencil moves more swiftly, spontaneously. The dark lines which overlap some of the softer detail demonstrate this freedom. In a painting they would seem out of place, but when this drawing is viewed as more of an illustrative piece, the lines add to it, as though the hair of the women has become fluid/blown about in a breeze, and the waviness of the marks looks like a suggestion of the water and water plants around them.

No comments:

Post a Comment