A Study of Egon Schiele

Hi everyone!

It’s been a bit since I last wrote. I hope you all are doing well. 🙂 This semester I am really diving headfirst into a couple different areas of art and art history, so I can’t wait to take you along for the ride!

One of the cool things I get to do this semester is take a studio class. As an art history and arts administration double major, I don’t really do the art… more like look at it and appreciate it. This basic drawing class, however, is putting me right into the artist’s shoes. Turns out, I LOVE it!! My professor has been having us jump right in with line and form by assigning us to copy artists’ work and then create our own art in their styles. These assignments are usually done in our sketchbooks for a couple of reasons. The first is that this is a basic drawing class, therefore we’re all coming in with varying comfort and skill levels. Drawing with pencil on a smaller surface is a bit less daunting than drawing on huge canvases. Another reason is so that we can truly pay attention to space and line. As we are instructed to fill these pages with small drawings, there is a compositional element to our work. I’ve learned to be super intentional about where I choose to overlap objects and where I isolate them, especially when it comes to the edges of the paper. When you work in a smaller space, such as the confines of a hardbound journal, you have to be specific about the details you choose to include in your drawings. It definitely made me look more closely at the artwork I was copying to ensure I was capturing the essence of them in just the corner of a standard size sheet of paper.

The last assignment we had, however, was the first on a larger surface. We had a small assignment on Egon Schiele in which we did the typical “fill two pages of your sketchbook — one with the artist’s work and the other with your own in their style”, but the next class our professor told us to focus in on just one of Schiele’s drawings that we did and enlarge it. Bringing in my huge newsprint pad and both oil and soft pastels (because really, how was I supposed to know which I’d prefer?), I got to work studying and recreating Schiele’s 1910 Portrait of Erwin Dominilk (Mime Van Osen).

Egon Schiele, Mime Van Osen, 1910
Egon Schiele, Mime Van Osen, 1910

Schiele is known for his elongated bodies, expressive and sketch-like lines, and pops of unexpected color. He was inspired heavily by friend and mentor, Gustav Klimt, whose influence is most noticeable in earlier works than this. Regardless of whether one likes Schiele — a semi-controversial figure given his arrest in 1912 for alleged seduction and kidnapping of a minor — his works are powerful. The contorted poses that Schiele depicts evoke strong positive and negative reactions from viewers. Works like his are really compelling to look at from the perspective of someone with the intent of recreating them. I got to really dissect this piece. Why the abstract color in the face? Is this person wearing makeup? Why so little definition in the body? How does it still communicate form even though there is hardly any shading? None of these questions really got answered for me but they were very helpful in my close-looking phase of the process. This picture shown above is actually not the reference photo I was using! I found this one while writing this post. The one below is the photo I based my rendering off of.

Can you see why I chose this one? Without the hands, it doesn’t seem all that complicated! The full drawing definitely makes more sense with Schiele’s style, but alas, I only saw this image before doing my version. I had a ton of fun figuring out how to capture the sketchy lines in the body while also getting the smoothness of the colors in the face. I’ve truly never understood the importance of sketching out a work that you’re studying before this assignment! You not only learn about general composition and catch things you may have missed before, but you also get to understand some of the essence that the artist instills into the artwork through recreating their linework. Here is my finished product! I’m really proud of it and excited about future projects. Thanks for reading! Have a great week. 🙂

My Egon Drawing

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