Rembrandt Drawing Analysis

This one is going out to the drawers out there.  I've gone through a fair number of paintings, and I thought it might be cool to check out some linework...and I love me some Rembrandt!

Even though he probably did this as an on-location sketch to go back and paint later, we're going to treat it as a finished piece of work.

Rembrandt - The Omval

Rembrandt - The Omval

Ok, this is my kind of drawing...tight and high contrast in the focal point, and then fading to literally scribbles on the corners.  I believe it is a "pure" line drawing without ink washes, although he may have smudged in some of the darker areas.  Contrast is built up with cross hashing.

Notice that he's drawn a frame around the image.  He's not just "dashing off" a sketch, he's building a composition.  The contrast point and focal area is definitely the lower left corner, right around the "Rule of thirds" point.  There's no point in doing a "value" study version of this image, but if you squint your eyes, it's pretty clear where the large massings of shadow are.

The Tree & Foreground

The Tree & Foreground

Man!  Look at the way he's built up the form!  So many cross-contour lines in the shadow areas!  He's built texture by cross-hatching with the contour in the darker areas.  When the form changes at a highlight point, there's just a simple outline.  He is using outline lines instead of separating the forms with value.  Look at the ground cover - Almost no shading inside the forms, instead he's added cast shadows under them.  Every line feels incredibly loose and expressive - He was not worried about capturing every clover, but in getting the feeling of the clover and grass on the ground.

In places that are darkest, his cross hatching has basically filled in the entire form, but even so, you can "feel" the stroke of the lines, so the directions he laid them down with were very important.

The Dude

The Dude

*heart*  So loose, so expressive, so DAMN GOOD.  The whole figure looks like it was drawn with almost one line, like he didn't lift his pen off the paper.  The only hatching and shading is around the hair and the hat, the rest of the guy just falls off into simple outline.  Look how he's used a minimum, but NECESSARY number of cross-contour lines to show the form and the costume.

Buildings in the Background

Buildings in the Background

Again, the bare minimum number of strokes to show form, without drawing attention from the trees.  Lines are mostly outlines and following the contour...and almost entire vertical.  Look how graphic and iconic those trees are!  Look at how he's not afraid to have the lines "break" the form on the windmill, and how that adds a sense of motion and energy!

 

Learnings:

  • Draw the feeling of things, not the things themselves.
  • Scribbling is FINE
  • He never, ever goes back over a line.  There is no furriness, each line is laid down and then he moves on.
  • Direction of stroke is very important.
  • Seeing is more important than mark making.

 

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!  Next week I'll try to go back to someone more current and flashy, you guys seem to respond better to that stuff, but I think it is really important to hit up our roots every now and then!