A few blogs ago I talked about cast drawings and paintings, and how they really test you as an artist. So a few days ago, I was thinking about what was the most challenging cast to draw or paint. What was the one cast above all others that says you are a master of the art of realism if you can conquer it? Immediately I thought of the one... the only... Laocoon. Naturally, given my ambition to be the best that I can possibly be as an artist, I decided I must conquer it.
So, the other day I did a very quick sketch of it just to see if I could even come close to capturing the general rendering of the sculpture. In other words... was it "close enough"?
The problem I have run into when it comes to cast drawings and paintings is my inherent lack of patience... one of the very things such a drawing or painting tests you on. That being said, I have also never completed a truly finished, polished drawing of a cast before. They've always been mere sketches such as this one (I would define a sketch as somewhere between 30-60 minutes).
So now I have this ambition to turn the little sketch above into this:
By the way, in case you were wondering... this is not a photograph of the cast. It is a painting of the cast done by Andrea Mosley, from Angel Academy of Art in Florence. In a perfect world, I would be able to go to Angel Academy so I could learn how to do this from real masters. But unfortunately, I must learn it on my own.
One of my favorite pictures is of a student from Angel Academy standing next to his painting of Laocoon. It is practically the same painting as Andrea's, and next to his painting is the actual cast of the Laocoon from which he painted. By the amazing sight-size technique, he was able to paint the cast in actual size, so it is as though you are looking at two casts... except one of them is a painting, and the effect is somewhat surreal. Here's the picture. Take a close look at it, and allow your mind to be blown.
The artist's name is Mathew. I am positive that I have not accomplished this level of craftsmanship... for now. But I am equally as positive that even Mathew studied and worked hard to build up his skill to the point where this photograph was possible. And the same is true for absolutely anyone who is serious about learning this craft we call realism. There are two underlying statements that are made whenever someone says, "Wow, I could never do this." 1. It is an excuse not to work at it, or 2. You don't care enough to try.
Either way, it is most certainly not a matter of whether or not you possess some magical "art gene" that automatically gives you the natural ability to be an artist. It simply does not work that way. When you were a child, drawing and making messes with fingerpaints were awesome, and you know it. But somewhere along the road of life, many of us lose interest or we quit trying. It is exactly the same as whenever a young person gives up playing piano or violin. Simply stated, becoming a master at anything is a choice we make, not a gift we possess. The only gift we possess is the passion to do so. And the question is whether we nurture that passion, or let it fizzle.
So, I have not conquered the Laocoon yet. But you can't really conquer something like that with one little sketch like the one I did. It may take me a while, and I may be doing several other projects in the meantime because I'm so scattered like that. But that is truly the best part about being an artist. I don't have to be organized. Only my paintings do.