Watching robots go by by ciro correia

One fine day in Paris?

One fine day in Paris?

I think I have an obsession with the roofs of Paris (and yes it is written roofs not rooves for all of you frantically searching an online dictionary cause it just doesn't look right). I bought a book about Paris as a teenager and some of my favourite photos in it were cityscapes (of Paris) filled with lead roofs stretching endlessly into the horizon line. Light reflects strangely off of their light grey surfaces. Are they lead roofs? I have always found them intriguing. The lines and forms in these pictures were geometric but also haphazard at the same time. I don't know if anyone has noticed but another thing I fancy are giant robots- I fancy retro looking ones, they tend to look like tin buckets. Remember Robbie? This picture started to form, of a giant robot lumbering through the streets of Paris. Towering above even the highest occupants on that muted level above the sea of roofs. Just imagine leaning out your window and suddenly its there, disturbing your peaceful view of the countless roofs. Imagine your relief as it strides by. Just imagine all those hundreds of inhabitants who didn't see it go past. ;)

Below you'll find a rough sketch, blocking out basic tones, an animated gif of the process :)

Rough initial sketch and blocking out values

Work in progress - diminishing outlines

Master study, - Seymour Joseph Guy (American, 1824–1910) - At the opera 1887 by ciro correia

Process of the study, painted under 3 hours.

I really like Guy's use of light and how he models his forms. He used a limited palette for this painting, there's a presence in the painting that I think is remarkable. He captured the moment so well, you can sense her excitement or surprise as she enjoys the show. Once again the object of a master study is not to replicate or complete the image but to learn from the artist about what they understood about the principles of art and design. He uses the subject's hands to perfectly balance the visual tension between the portrait's head and the hands - really textbook precision if you study the theory behind portraits (Composing pictures by Donald Graham is an excellent resource for these principles and is one of my favourite books on my shelf, though in my opinion the level of the book is aimed at intermediate to advanced artists since he deals with some very meaty and advanced viewpoints on the subject). I think the use of dramatic light is the thing I got most out of doing this study.  I do studies to keep my eye in and keep my illustrative skills sharp.

master study of 'At the opera 1887'

You can see a digital copy of the original I used as reference here.

Master study, John Singer Sargent's 'El Jaleo' by ciro correia

Welcome to my new blog - 'Sketched'. I should probably have said this in my last post since that was the first blog entry on my new system, but hey this still works. I don't know why I resisted updating my website and streamlining all my net dealings before. I suspect that it had to do with the time needed to consistently update a website - somehow I've managed it without any loss to my other vital areas. So welcome to and 'Sketched'. I'm hoping to post updates on my illustration, design and art. I'll be posting concerning building skills, design principles and other educational matters to do with illustration and design. I'm also hoping to get some posts from contributors, other artists and designers and their ideas. I won't always be posting my best and polished work here so don't judge me by the images I choose to post, this blog is very much about the processes of building skills or shaping concepts. It's also about sharing my work, love and interests.

This month's master study is 'El Jaleo' by John Singer Sargent. Sargent's work is hugely influential to many artists, illustrators and designers - myself included. My aim in doing a master study is almost never to finish the piece. I'm not trying to reproduce the work but by painting the piece I enter into what I can only describe as a dialogue with the work and the artist's techniques. It's weird, I know but I find that I enter into a meditative space where I learn from the artist's work.

El Jaleo is a dramatic painting, Sargent captures the mood and atmosphere in the scene by his use of light, palette and tension created by his brush strokes and how he has posed the subjects. The room feels like a stage, the floor and space gives us this impression. The light is dramatic to heighten the scene. Movement is captured by the tension Sargent creates - the light comes from below and at an angle, the shadows cast against the wall are as much a subject as the dancer and those sitting against the walls either playing instruments or clapping in adoration. 

Speed paint master study: Most of the picture has been roughed in, I go in afterwards and paint over the basic shapes to refine the image. The only area where I chose to work in some detail is the dancer's head and her right arm. Sargent's brush strokes are very loose and yet he manage's to capture incredible detail and nuance.

Learning from painting El Jaleo: Dramatic light, using contrastive and dramatic values to highlight and create tension. The palette is uncomplicated - browns, reds, orange, black and white. The greys are largely warm. Brush strokes are loose and I think worked over each other with fluid movements - finding larger shapes and breaking down these into smaller visual elements. Detail is kept to key areas to heighten the drama.

The main area of my study - the dancer's head and right arm - zoomed in. You can find a photo of the original painting here:

Note: This painting was used as a basis by Paul-Emile Becat, a French Graphic artist known for his erotic illustrations, for an illustration for 'La Femme et Le Pantin'  a novel by Pierre Louys  (1898) (please note, Paul-Emile Becat's work is not meant for those with weak constitutions and will more than likely offend many). 'La Femme et Le Pantin' (The woman and the puppet) was made into a silent film in 1920. Marlene Dietrich's 'The Devil is a Woman' (1935) was based on 'La Femme et Le Pantin'. Other films based on the novel are 'That Obscure Object of Desire' and 'The Female'. I find it interesting that in 'That Obscure Object of Desire' the female lead's character is a Flamenco dancer from Seville. It comes all back to this painting somehow or at least Becat's version of it. Becat's illustration