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Sketch and the idea in the trompel’oeils of L’Atelier de Santi

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Alacena de Velázquez y boceto

The sketch is the result of materializing the initial idea with some procedure. In my case I am going to explain it about the drawing prior to painting, but other cases may be the “modellino” of a sculptor, even the mechanical ingenuity to scale of the idea of an engineer, or the model with different materials of the architect . Anyway, the sketch tries to capture from a first impression in its representation the initial feeling that the idea produced. In this way the work is redirected towards its origin

The sketch can be more or less elaborate with respect to its end, but it is important that it preserves as much as possible its original source idea, that is, its inspiring idea. It is what will give consistency, coherence and above all strength to the final work. When I speak of strength, I mean evocative power, transmitter of the author’s initial inspiration. In addition, the author’s sensitivity is reflected in a more pure way in an initial sketch prior to its re-elaboration where the greater or lesser virtuosity and the later technique itself intervene.

Sketch for a trompe-lóeil mural by José María Sert

Sketch for a trompe-lóeil mural by José María Sert

The sketches of the masters

I have often reflected on the many sketches of the Renaissance masters. In them, saving their virtuosity, the representations of the motifs are very close to their elaboration in the final support, be it a mural, table or canvas. History has tried to give names and even surnames to figures so correctly represented, and in some cases there is talk of supposed self-portraits, for example of Leonardo da Vinci, in some of the characters in his works.

But in my opinion, it is the artist’s own genius who represents himself perfecting any model he observes as a reference. This is the case of the well-known head of anta Ana for “The Virgin with the Child and Santa Ana”. As timeless as it is immaterial, that figure was not created by Leonardo in a tortuous way, so the lines of the drawing themselves say. On the contrary, his simplicity of line and synthesis, together with the high sensuality innate in Leonardo, are prodigious.

Copy of graphite on stoneware of the sketch of Head of Santa Ana according to Leonardo

Copy of graphite on stoneware of the sketch of Head of Santa Ana according to Leonardo

Ideas transmitted, new art

In other cases the sketch reveals the author’s naturalism. The author has his way of representing any motive and he speaks for it. It’s what we call your own style, like his fingerprint rather than his signature. This is the case, as an example and more baroque, of P.P. Rubens. Even in works that are copies of his references, he cannot avoid being unfaithful to the original by giving the copy an air of his own, without substantially changing the original work. For example, among others, “Adam and Eve” according to Titian that, without hardly changing an element of the original composition, the full stylistic authorship of Rubens cannot be denied. And also as far as drawing is concerned. The study or sketch that he made of the sculpture of “The night” according to Michelangelo, is a statement of his own style.

Copy of Rubens de La Noche drawing after Michelangelo, graphite on stoneware

Copy of Rubens de La Noche drawing after Michelangelo, graphite on stoneware

Towards the independence of the sketch

And as the story progresses, the art of the sketch becomes more spontaneous, in some cases disappearing as such. That is, to be incorporated directly into the development of the work, as an initial level or preparatory layer. This is decisive in the case of  Velázquez, of whom hardly any preparatory drawings and / or sketches are known. He was one of the first introducers of the painting “alla prima”, that is, “of first intention”. And in the radiographs that have been made in studies of his works, very simple underlying drawings appear, in some cases of simple compositional placement. Renowned masters affirm that “Velázquez painted what he saw”, with an improvised and virtuous capture of light in the realization of his paintings from nature, why would he make a previous drawing? For this reason, Velázquez was the benchmark of many artists of French Impressionism.

Puppy detail in the portrait of the Infante Felipe Próspero by Velázquez

Puppy detail in the portrait of the Infante Felipe Próspero by Velázquez

The sketch, modern design

It was the desire to capture the atmospheric and hourly light that led landscapers such as Corot, Pisarro, and all those of the Barbizón School, to convert the sketch and first impression into an autonomous work of its later reinterpretation or re-elaboration. In other words, the painting “alla prima” (painting of first intention) applied to the landscape and all genres. The consequence of this independence of the sketch with respect to the elaborated work was the elevation of status, from sketch to design (from the Italian, “disegno”). Opening the doors of art with capital letters, to conceptual art, as a captor of ideas, symbolism, and in terms of functionality to illustration, decoration, and the various designs, fashion, interior, industrial, advertising, etc.

Because to design anything or object, the artist first has to draw or express the idea in some way and way. And this is where the sketch fulfills the function that I have performed from the beginning, clarifying the ideas in and during its realization. It is the beginning of the construction of the objective desired by the author.

Aim or sketch of a view of Saint Victoire by Cezanne

Aim or sketch of a view of Saint Victoire by Cezanne

Sketching at L’Atelier de Santi

For me, like L’Atelier de Santi, the idea that assails me from inspiration suggests two ways of sketching. Both valid for the realization of trompe l’oeil in the field of painting on various supports. One is the most traditional, however effective, which is the initiatory and prior drawing, the sketch itself. From the beginning of the art of painting he was key in the elaboration of the masterpieces. It is through sketch that the author, in an exercise of trial and error, towards his calculations, sought proportions and coherence in the whole.

The traditional sketch or previous design of the work whose representation I am pursuing, is useful in any case. In fact it is used in the arts, to visualize the idea, such as architecture, sculpture, ceramics, and a long etc. It can even be useful for making a preliminary drawing of a staging as a model. For this reason it is also used in the industry for future prototypes, and even in the cinema the story board can be conceptualized as an initial sketch for future filming.

Joint sketch and final painting of the trompe l'oeil "Gazpacho"

Joint sketch and final painting of the trompe l’oeil “Gazpacho”

Naturalistic sketch

But the second way of sketching that I use the most is the closest thing to a model or staging of the model (s). That is to say, to mount the still life to represent, as it is done in art schools. But in my case I personalize the composition and the models in situ, in person, in order to paint them from life, in this way I create the setting where I represent the motifs as characters. As can be understood, it is still a live sketch of the final composition, where the placement, size, light, colors, etc., are previously tested and selected.

Joint sketch and final painting of the trompe l'oeil "Gazpacho"

Boceto y/o modelo del natural

Even so, there are options to change the details. As when a previously drawn sketch is made, the creativity of the artist cannot be abstracted from a certain improvisation that escapes the original sketch. Because the sketch is still a work in constant process. And the author sets the beginning of its materialization and realization at a given moment. But the inertia of creation, like the light of a light bulb, as the concept “idea” is often represented, surpasses the limits of the original sketch.

For more information about the process;

Paint a trompel’oeil in L’Atelier de Santi








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