Beginning Figure Drawing

I am embarking on the last part of the Drawing Skills course with Figure Drawing.  I have done some drawing from life before – I attended a series of evening classes about two years ago and, in between, two weekend seminars, one of the clothed figure.  I will be posting some of my earlier drawings, as well as sketches and drawings from the class on which I have just enrolled (with the same teacher, Peter, as before).  I hope to be able to see progress compared with the earlier drawings as I will be drawing in a more experienced, anatomy-aware and task-oriented way this time around, working towards Assignment 4.  I tried scanning these images but they didn’t come out well and so have photographed them  – the images are clearer than when scanned but there is a dreary, blue background due to less than perfect lighting.

The drawings below were the starting point two years ago which I could consider as a baseline against which to measure my progress over the next few weeks.  They were all drawn in pencil (HB? B? – not recorded) in an A3 sketchbook.  This was the first: I misjudged the size of his head and had to redraw.  His upper body appears a bit large for the legs, which are generally slightly longer than the upper body in men. The stools in the hall where we draw are for children so, although he looks uncomfortable, it is likely that he was!

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We drew our tutor while we waited for the model to arrive.  When he/she had not appeared after this, I was somewhat disconcerted when the teacher I had met less than 30 minutes earlier proceeded to strip off in front of us!   This was his first pose…  I chopped off his toes in the photo in error – they are in the drawing, in outline. The legs seem short compared with the upper bodying this drawing, too, but the torso and neck are stretched, which serves to exaggerate the length of the upper body slightly.  I have an opinion about this pose which I should probably keep to myself.

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In the drawing below, I was quite pleased with the left leg (closest to the viewer);  there is hint of muscle and the shape is quite realistic, also the thigh is foreshortened due to its angle from the viewer.  The left shoulder is a tad too wide.  There is something of a facial likeness, but not strong…Was his chest quite so concave?  Possibly, the model is over 60, which I found surprising when I discovered his age later.  He does appear up to a decade younger in the flesh, so to speak, and yet in the drawing he seems closer to his actual age.

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Each of the drawings above took 15-20 minutes.  We then had 5-10 minutes to draw the next two.  This drawing does appear more rushed and the model appears rigid.  His arms are not long enough (when extended the fingertips should reach to about mid-thigh)

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Another faster sketch.  In this one, the right arm appears much too long.  I think the left hand is holding the cuff of his shirt but it seems to have vanished. The shoulders appear slightly too wide although the hips appear substantial, too, so perhaps the hips should be a bit narrower in relation to the shoulders.  I seem to have a better time of drawing legs than upper body.  I have difficulty in judging the height of the subject in relation to the paper and should probably work out the height in relation to the size of his head as a first step and check that all of him will fit on the page.

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This final drawing was another longer pose.  Once again, the shoulder closest to the viewer seem too broad and his big toe is huge even taking perspective into account! The thigh and length of the body as a whole, is foreshortened and the perspective is not bad.

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When I look at all of the drawings together, the longer poses, at least, are (to me) recognisably of the same person.

These pictures, then, form part of the baseline.  The other drawings and sketches from this older series will be posted, as appropriate, with newer drawings and sketches from the current course.  I can see now an absence of context for all but the last one, and even then the stage on which he is lying is not itself situated in the room on the page but, rather, floating.

A resource that I have found useful is Gottfried Bammes’ Complete Guide to Life Drawing, which is a condensed version of his mammoth work in German, which I came across during a weekend seminar last year. I intend to try some of Bammes’s exercises and to use his book to analyse some of my own drawings, in order to identify specific flaws / tendencies, especially where I repeat errors of proportion from one drawing to the next.  I also need to try to use more confident, more fluid and less “bitty” lines when creating an outline but also need not surround the figure in an unbroken line, such that there can be a greater connection between the figure and the space in which he or she resides in the drawing. Providing a context each time is important so that the figure does not float on the surface of the paper or away from the viewer.

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