Copy of a Copy of a Copy. But, why?

This past week, I finished my first Bargue. A Bargue drawing is an exercise that involves making an as-exact-as-possible pencil copy of one of a series of drawings by a guy named Charles Bargue who lived back in the 1800’s. Bargue did a series of drawings of casts of parts of famous sculptures. So, right now, I am working on a Bargue of Mose’s arm from Michelangelo’s Moses. My recently completed Bargue is of a hand holding a whetstone, but I can’t figure out what the original sculpture was.
So, what is the point of this copy of copy of a copy? (Original, cast, Bargue copy, my copy). You’ve heard the saying, “Its not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”? Well, it is. It’s about the journey. There is a whole process to making the copy that is designed to help an artist learn to see. And see what? Contour lines, shapes of shadows, form turning in space, shapes of half-tones (the grey areas), overlaps, relationships between all of the above, and the list goes on. All of the things I learn while making the Bargue, I then take with me into the model room where I apply them to human figure drawing. And, human figure drawing is also a didactic exercise, the lessons from which I can then apply to future artwork.
Lots of exercises. It’s all preparation. Funny thing is that it is easy to get lost in the exercise – and not in a bad way. Even if the main purpose of the copying exercise is to teach me to draw, that does not mean that the product is not also beautiful in a particular way. I have a great affection for my Bargue. I could sculpt the form in space of the 2-dimensional image I drew, and I would know every curve. I have to say that I am much more at peace now than I used to be about things being both exercise and end in themselves. I remember my mother saying that in college she thought that a person gets an education to do something and then they finish the education and then they go off and do it. End of story. But, now she knows that the learning part really goes on forever. (Something like that. Sorry, Mom, if I messed up your words.) So, one of the things that I’ve learned from doing my first Bargue is that I *really like* representational drawing. It’s fascinating and challenging and fun. So, that tells me something about the direction I might want to go, and since fleshing out that direction is part of the point of this blog, I’d say that’s a good thing.
Signing off for another week. Thanks for reading. Go out there and see Beauty today.

Hand with Whetstone, Copy of a Cast Drawing by Charles Bargue
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