The Clothed Figure – Form and Movement

I took part in a workshop for the clothed figure some time ago.  The workshop ran over a weekend.  The first morning focused on warm-up techniques, which were also designed to get us ways to abstract figures by looking in places that we might not have thought to look before.  I have since discovered that some of these ideas come from Peter Jenny’s books, some of which have since been published in English.  They are very good exercises for warm-ups and generation of ideas.  The drawings used for this post were made in an A3 sketchbook.  I cannot scan these and have had to rely on photographs, some of which have been enhanced to avoid a grey tinged background. 

One warm-up was to find a figure in crumpled brown paper.   Here is the crumpled paper…

Image 16


…and here is the figure that I found in its folds. I am sure that others could be found:  




Other ideas that were mentioned included:

 – using a long chain on a flat surface to create an abstract human form.

 – using matches to create action poses.

 – using magazines – drawing on faces, going over outlines, noting positions and angles of hips and shoulders and spine relative to these. 


Here is my take on the last of these, using an image found in a magazine to focus on shapes and angles: 

Image 6



The drawings were done in pencil.  They have not reproduced well but hopefully are clear enough.  There are a variety of standing and sitting poses. 

Standing and leaning poses: I am quite pleased with the overall proportions.  Although these drawings were made on A3 paper, they didn’t all fill the page.  I focused on making some smaller, more detailed drawings.  The legs in the leaning pose below are slightly foreshortened. 


Image 8



Image 2


There were also several seated poses:

Image 3


We drew this pose again from a different angle. I had difficulty in aligning the legs supporting leg with the upper body – see also the sketch top right of page in which I tried to sort out the problem.  I shifted the body over to the left but am still not sure.  Because he is not quite sitting squarely to the viewer, the body-leg line should not in fact be vertical. This image was A3 size and has been slightly enhanced to make it clearer on screen: 


This pose took up a single page.  I didn’t judge the length of the body properly before beginning and couldn’t get the boy’s ankles and feet on the page with the rest of him: 

Image 15

There were also a pose in which the model was seated on the floor, offering the chance to tackle foreshortening:

Image 12


Here are two of the above poses from the A3 sketchbook to give a sense of scale.  They have also been enhanced to make the images clearer:

Image 13


One final drawing exercise involved a sequence of short poses which were a series of “stills” depicting the act of moving from a seated to a standing position.  I am not sure why I drew the figure increasingly large as he stood up!  We had maybe 4-5 minutes for each pose.


Image 1  Version 2


The model was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, which do not provide a lot of opportunity for modelling the fabric.  I also tended to be more focused on proportions and challenges such as foreshortening and so often forgot about the fabric until the end, when I used minimal lines and hatching to indicate folds.  Overall, as a fabric-drawing exercise, this was not very successful but, in terms of proportions, shapes, angles and centre of gravity, I am reasonably pleased with the outcome. 

The second day in this workshop was spent in the Akademisches Kunst Museum drawing plaster casts of ancient Greeks, which I have already recorded in the learning log under “Drawing Statues” (published 17th July 2012). 


One follow-up to this workshop (and not a clothed figure so not strictly relevant to the original intention of the post):

I began looking for abstract figures and faces in the week after the workshop (the tutor had warned us that if we did too much of this, we would see faces everywhere!).  I found this one in the plastic sheeting that was peeling off the outside of the kitchen window (the outside of the apartment block was being renovated at the time) while waiting for a pan of milk to boil!  The image was drawn in a square format sketchbook.  The odd green lines on her face are actually a carbon or charcoal pencil and are not as pronounced in the original and certainly aren’t green.  I was pleased with the “hair” which was created with an eraser, drawn into a powdered graphite ground.  It was inspired by water rivulets having found their way beneath the plastic.  I drew “her” facial features as they appeared on the window using a putty eraser and carbon or charcoal pencil and my coffee became cold in the meantime….






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