Carroll Beckwith

Pencil drawing, master copies of Carroll Beckwith and John Singer Sargent.
7.7”x7.5”, drawn in a Moleskine Art Cahier Sketch Album
with a Blackwing Natural and a Blackwing 602.

Friday morning I tried life drawing via Zoom with Silhouette & Shadow. They host frequent life drawing opportunities online, do a nice job managing the sessions and feature top quality professional models. About twelve years ago I attended a live life drawing session. Since then I’ve wanted to give it another go. Having no such opportunities in the small city where I live, Silhouette & Shadow seemed like a good alternative. And indeed it was.

My resulting sketches were terrible however, so they aren’t gonna make it to the big time on Instagram or this post. I am a brave soul but I do have standards.😉 Instead, I’m offering up these two little master copies. Carroll Beckwith and John Singer Sargent were friends and studied under the same instructor, Carolus-Duran. To bolster my spirit after flopping with life drawing, I decided to study one of Beckwith’s life drawings and see what I could learn. After that, it seemed a study of Sargent’s drawing of Beckwith would be appropriate.

One can see the simplicity of line and shading in both artists’ work, something that Duran stressed in his teaching. But the thing that stood out to me was the long curved lines each exhibited. I immediately realized that I have not been utilizing long, gestural strokes in my own attempts at portraits and figures. Yet, they make all the difference in terms of capturing the beauty in the forms. I tend to scritch along in a line to build what these guys did with one stroke. So that is my aim now, stop scritching and start drawing long continuous strokes from here on out. Not easy, but I can see what a difference it can make in the success of the drawing. Note too, how Sargent captured the quiet concentration in drawing Beckwith as he painted. And notice, much to my chagrin, how I did not capture it in my copy. I also realize my copies are four to five times smaller than the originals. That makes it a bit more difficult to execute long curves of varying line width accurately. So, larger formats will be tried in the future.

Tsk, tsk…What do we learn by doing master copies?…How we are not yet masters.😉

Sargent’s drawing of Carroll Beckwith.
Beckwith’s drawing of a live model.