Saturday, January 29, 2011
Sketches, values, and Reilly.
Above are some digital sketchbook pages I done over the past two weeks. It's really nothing more than a photoshop file with an ever increasing amount of layers, but I've been finding it a great way to fuss about with my digital tools, experiment, and learn.
Ever since I graduated from SCAD, I've found myself trying to get a better grasp on painting. It was something that, regretably, I didn't actively pursue: I focused my efforts almost exclusively on improving my line drawing, believing that'd be enough to spring me forward into other avenues (you can guess how that turned out, otherwise I wouldn't be talking about this.)
It's been a forward march of improvement, but the progress can vary from tiny steps to gigantic leaps, depending on how well I absorb and understand it all. Self-learning can come easily to some, for others, you need a lot of learning material and grit to gain anything out of it. Which brings me to Frank Reilly and Jack Faragasso.
I've always been fascinated by Frank Reilly's teachings. His systems and methods are tried and true, and have proven to be a great springboard for artists to get a grasp of the fundamentals and hone their technique, allowing them to experiment and push themselves while relying on a solid bedrock of teaching. Unfortunately, for someone who is revered by a lot of modern day illustrators, concept artists, and painters, there's not really a lot of his teaching information available. Most of it is out of print, or if it is in print, it's usually glossed over and not covered extensively (I think this might be in part because the author's either don't know enough about Reilly's methods, or they have it so ingrained in them that a lot of things they know instinctively are things they need to cover.)
There have been some gems in the dirt though, with Fred Fixler's amazing site and the recent addition of John Ennis' "The Reilly Papers" to the internet (I highly recommend John Ennis' site - they actually are the lecture notes from Reilly himself, and he does try to elaborate on some points that seem murky in the lecture notes. Plus he's just a great painter to boot.)
So how does Jack Faragasso figure into all this? He was a student of Frank Reilly, and wrote two books that covered Reilly's methods extensively: The Complete Guide to Painting the Human Figure, and the Complete Guide to Drawing the Human Figure. Unfortunately, both have been out of print for some time. Fortunately (for me, at least,) I was able to get pdf copies of them recently, and have been poring over them like mad.
Although the figure drawing one so far is okay (I STILL can't quite figure out how that whole system of figure construction works, and I probably never will,) Faragasso's painting book is a real eye-opener. I had recently finished reading the chapters about values and shadows, which ended up with my digesting that information into one of the sketchbook pages above (value study has been an extremely weak point for me, and this was sort of solid footing I needed.)
It's a shame a book like this doesn't exist in print anymore, since I really do think it'd be a boon to anyone that is trying to learn painting on their own. Hopefully though, I'll try and disseminate anything I've learned from it in any future posts.