Rubens after Michelangelo, everyone else after Rubens...
For the start, do we all realize that excellent art skills can be gained only after many hours of work? At least 8 hours per day for studying, if you want to become a professional.
If not - then it doesn't matter.
Next, just a reminder. During many years Rubens was copying Michelangelo. Again and again. And again. Endless learning process. Then HE became a Master. Then others were copying him next to Michelangelo.
The answer is easy.
Buy big format, great quality books of Art Masters of the past - drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Rubens, da Vinci, Bronzino, Caracci, etc, etc.
(Just make sure it's not Dover-like publications. You need the best quality to make good copies. If it's "10 bucks or less" - it's for trash.)
And you don't need any text for this kind of books. Images only. The higher quality the best.
Of course, I can't leave out of attention the publications by the Academy of Arts. Russian Academy, of course, as I don't know any other Academies which publications deserve any professional attention.
1. Fundamentals of Drawing, V.A. Mogilevtsev
The only publication on academic drawing. Simply presents the drawing SYSTEM as it was taught by the art academies until the 20th century. And is still taught ONLY at the Russian Academy (and partly in China, thanks to many Chinese students who studied and study in Russia).
2. Academic Drawings and Sketches, V.A. Mogilevtsev
Leading professor of the Drawing Department presents drawings and sketches made by the best students during his 15 years of teaching at the Academy. Excellent guide for academic drawing perfection.
3. Drawings, Nikolay Blokhin
The best drawings made by one of the best draftsman. A true follower of academic traditions. Study his works, thus improve your drawing skills.
4. Paintings, Nikolay Blokhin
See #3, but this time - all about academic painting.
There are also Khamid Savkuev, Yuri Kalyuta, and others - who make outstanding artwork and teach at the Academy.
For those who prefer to see things on computer screen - here are some links:
- Khamid Savkuev
- Nikolay Blokhin
- Yuri Kalyuta
Yes, my message is a bit harsh, but it frustrates me to see thousands of junkie "art" books on the shelves of people who want to dedicate their life to the art.
And last thing to mention.
Be careful with what you study and by whom you're taught.
I was a witness of master classes taken by foreign "professional artists" at our Academy. I've seen their frustration and irritation when they simply didn't want to follow instructions,... because they got used to completely different system. Their drawings were... "ok", but too far from being great or even simply good. And it's not just your hand that develops bad habbits, it's your mentality, which later on will be very difficult, if not impossible, to change.
But if you do all this only for fun - please ignore everything I've just said. :)
Rimmer after Michelangelo, everyone else is secondary
Hello everyone. I'm new here on this message board and I couldn't help but throw in my 2 cents in this discussion.
Perhaps the most inspiring book in my collection is a massive volume that weighs about 20 pounds entitled "The Complete Work of Michelangelo."
I agree with Book Guru when he says, "Buy big format, great quality books of Art Masters of the past - drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Rubens, da Vinci, Bronzino, Caracci, etc, etc." In fact, this is most massive art book in my collection and is the definitive source for everything that survives of Michelangelo's work.
Another great book that really taught me the fundamentals of artistic anatomy is "The Master Class in Figure Drawing" by Robert Beverly Hale. The subtitle on this book reads "The Art Students League lectures of America's greatest teacher of figure drawing and artistic anatomy." Another one of his books is titled "Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters" and is another indispensable reference on the subject artistic anatomy.
Possibly one of the greatest and most forgotten books on artistic anatomy is William Rimmer's book Art Anatomy. It's impossible for me to find a picture of the cover for some reason and I think the book is out of print. My copy is a 1962 edition.
And the best photographic reference for figure drawing from life has to be Eadweard Muybridge's book "The Human Figure in Motion." It's an absolute classic and should be in every serious draftsman's library.
In my opinion, these are the most important books on the subject of figure drawing and it's important not to overwhelm yourself with a vast collection of art instruction books from all the masters out there, otherwise you'll never be able to get through them all in a lifetime. The secret to success as a draftsman is to copy from the masters over and over. And then recopy the more challenging compositions involving clusters of figures piled on top of each other--the paintings of Michelangelo come to mind here. I could have mentioned books on Raphael, Leonardo, or a more contemporary artist like Burne Hogarth but Hogarth's work is too stylized and exaggerated.
Anyhow, I just wanted to mention what I thought was the 5 most important books for me on the subject of figure drawing and artistic anatomy.