Thursday, January 26, 2017

"Fundamentals of Painting" now in English

The best source for Russian academic teaching methods are the two books by Vladimir Mogilevtsev, the head of the Drawing Department of the Russian Academy of Arts (also known as the Repin Institute) in St. Petersburg.

But for a long time, his teaching was difficult to access unless you could speak Russian. Fortunately, last fall, his book Fundamentals of Drawing was released in an English edition, and now his companion volume called "Fundamentals of Painting is also available in English.

It's a big hardbound book in full color with high quality printing, 13 3/4" x 9 3/4" (35 x 25cm), 96 pages.

It includes concept, materials, charcoal drawing, preliminary sketches, color relationships, copying, and final details.

The book is organized in a series of extended step-by-step demos: a female head study, a male portrait with hands, a male nude figure, and a copy of a Rembrandt portrait.

There's a fixed layout. On the right hand page is a large reproduction of a work in progress. On the left hand page is a commentary about each stage, with additional illustrations to illuminate his points.

About the charcoal preliminary, he says: "We are solving two tasks: composition and large proportions. Then we mark out the shape of the head, hands, clothes etc. In the silhouette of the head we find the outline of the face and hair...Draw according to the principle from general to specific."

Mr. Mogilevtsev discusses issues that face any painter, such as color relationships, mutual penetration of colors, tonal value, silhouette, mass, and shapes. 

Throughout the presentation, he shows teaching examples by masters of the past, such as Titian, Holbein, Repin, Serov and Fechin.

The quotes from the text are very helpful and no-nonsense, for example:

"Look at your sketch and determine what are the most important and what are the minor details. You should not allow all details to be equal. The sense of unity and completion is achieved when the details vary in significance and the degree of execution. In a portrait, the most important detail is usually the eyes. Next are the nose, the mouth, and the chin, then the forehead and the neck. After that we create variety in edges of the silhouette of the face, the hair, and the clothes."

At Amazon:
You can also buy them directly from the publisher 4-Art in Russia.
Also recommended 
Academic Drawings and Sketches  is 168 pages, softcover, 9.5" x 13.5".
Anatomy of Human Figure: The Guide for Artists (RUSSIAN language)


Snk said...

Hi James!
How are you? I hope you´re doing great. Thanks a lot for the insight on these, they seem like very must-have books, do you know any website with works by the author? I can´t find any. Thanks again!

James Gurney said...

Snk--The links at the end of the post takes you to the books by Vladimir Mogilevtsev that are available on Amazon.
You can also find out about other books by Mr. Mogilevtsev at the Russian website:

rock995 said...

His drawing book was great. I actually studied at Repin Institute in the 90's and traditional methods of picture-making were taught there. Thanks to your post, I just bought the painting book as well. Thanks so much! Rock

Unknown said...

funny, didn't expected that someone in the world waiting for our books to be translated, because you probably can't imagine how much we in Russia waiting for any book on english to be at least published in Russia, we have a big problems with that.
Thank's for the article!

Ricky Mujica said...

Thanks for pointing this out. Thanks to your post, I just ordered my english version of the drawing book. I already have the Russian version with the accompanying english pdf translation. But it's great to just have the book in english. I think it's one of the best drawing from life books I ever seen. I think it's fantastic. The painting book, not so much.