So two rants in one month isn't too bad, right? No you say? Good, here goes. Like a flesh eating bacteria from Thailand, this particular issue has been eating away at me for years. I have noticed a recent trend in some art academy students in regards to their school studies. Now for the record, I am not saying this is true of all academy students or any one academy in particular, I am just saying there's just enough out there to really grind my gears. The aim of these students in drawing has become a game of who can fill in the weave of the paper the most with an extremely sharpened pencil point. After The Game of Mousetrap, this is perhaps the dumbest game in life to play. Some of these students will spend a year, even up to two, on a single drawing exercise, just meticulously filling in the small pores of the paper with a needle sharp graphite point. Next to torturing small animals, this sort of obsession is the stuff serial killers are made of. Might as well just get out the old lotion basket and hose.
This eventually makes their drawings "hyper" rendered and therefore allows them to be competitive somehow without actually knowing how to draw or knowing what a good drawing should even look like. Ironically, the drawings really never even have any more form or depth. What really annoys me is when these same students then condemn other artists who don't do this in their drawings. I remember once seeing a figure drawing brought in by my friend that was honestly incredible. Then some smart-ass student took a look at it and said "it's ok, but the paper is not filled in enough." After doing a spinning roundhouse kick to the guys skull for disrespecting his sensei, I carefully explained to him why the drawing worked so well. He was passed out on the floor so I guess my explanation really didn't matter anyway.
I feel people really need to look more to the past for information if they really want a resurgence in classical realism. Many, though not all, students nowadays seemed to be simply too obsessed with particular technical elements while missing the big picture. Hyper rendering is NOT part of an academic tradition. If there is one thing I have discovered in drawing, it's more about putting the right strokes and hatches in the right places rather than simply putting more of them. The same issue can also be seen in painting. For example, look at this painting by Dagnan Bouveret. Super rendered right?
Wrong answer punk, look at the paint quality. It's how a piece reads from a distance that is most essential.
Keep in mind as well that academy exercises in the 19th century ateliers took as little as 1 week and almost never more than 3 weeks to execute. The blending came not from the point, but from stomps and other blending tools. This is what actually allowed for efficiency. See some examples of 19th century student work below.
I guess a lot of people are wondering what prompted this amazing rant. Lots of academy students have been looking to me for advice recently (though I don't know why considering what a jerk I am) and I thought I would address this particular issue and give some advice.
One thing I would recommend to do is invest in some hi res images of great paintings and drawings. If you live next to a good museum, that's even better. Substantial knowledge can be gained just by looking at masterworks. If you really want to see how things were done in the 19th century or whenever, go look at that particular work and try to figure it out. Don't just assume the student next to you is doing the same thing as the 19th century ateliers simply because the school advertises it.
Go to http://www.inspirationalartworks.blogspot.ca/ to have your mind blown for image resources.
NOTE: Hyper rendering does have its place, but it's in photo realism, not classical realism. The two are equal but totally different things.