Atelier drawings – portrait 3, da Vinci

Before: ending on a high here! The portrait to copy is Leonardo da Vinci’s Study of a Young Woman (1490) and appropriately but probably coincidentally, it is positioned on the right of the book so that the page where the copy is to be made is on the left. This means I can actually see the image I am working with instead of obscuring it with my drawing arm. The arrangement would not have been lost on da Vinci, a reputed left hander.

After: so, that went well! There’s a reason da Vinci is a Master; he makes the complicated look simple and easy, and I am eternally grateful that he will never see this ‘copy’.


No matter what I did – and I measured, I blocked, I added ruled lines across the two pages, I made little marks to show where the nose ended and the top lip began, I inserted angles and diagonals to get ear, eyebrows, and profiled eye aligned – I somehow lost every line and every angle and gave her a calculating expression far removed from the quiet simplicity of the original. This is by far the least successful of all the exercises I’ve done in this book. Nevertheless, turning an elegant, quiet, contemplative Romanesque woman into a Greco-Kardashian with a look of sheer revenge in her eyes has to be something of an achievement!

The next book on my list is Figure Drawing Atelier, also by Aristides.

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