Part 4: Assignment 4 – Two large figure studies and self-portrait

Brief

For this assignment, you should complete two large figure studies (A1 size) and a portrait or self-portrait (any size) – three drawings in total, together with supporting studies, experiments, etc.

For each drawing, consult your preliminary studies and make notes on what you plan to do. Think about composition, medium and approach. Write a few notes on the artist(s) that have inspired you to work in a particular way. Be inventive in your approach and in the materials you use. You’re not restricted to working with black on white. Try reversing this to white on black, or consider monochrome, perhaps dark blue on pale blue paper, or ink and charcoal on newspaper – the list is endless, so be inventive. Allow around two hours for each drawing.

1 Figure study using line (A1) – Seated model in an upright chair
This study is about drawing three-dimensional form using line. Take particular note of the proportions of the figure and the chair in relation to the whole scene, gradually describing details such as the hands and facial features as well as the folds of clothing using a single line or combinations of lines: narrow and thick, curved and straight, fractured, expressive, gestural, dynamic, dramatic (and so on).

Look back at your notes and studies from previous assignments to rediscover ways to work with line. Try different media and supports; do a few tests with textured and found paper, unusual formats, etc.

Do a few exploratory sketches before starting work on the larger sheet. Try to be as expressive and experimental with the large drawing as you were with the preparatory studies. Try not to tighten up or lose the fluidity and spontaneity that should have evolved since the beginning of the course.

2 Figure study using tone (A1) – Reclining model
Plan the setting carefully. Your model should be dressed in reasonably fitted clothes; it’s a good idea if the clothes contrast in tone (e.g. dark trousers, light top).

Use strong light from one major light source. If you’re using artificial light rather than natural light from a window, experiment by moving the light around to allow the shadows to fall across the figure and the room in an interesting way. Use tone only to create a real sense of form and atmosphere. Remember to use positive and negative spaces, including the small spaces in the hair, between the fingers, and so on.

3 A portrait or self-portrait combining line and tone (any size)
Create a portrait a self-portrait where the features are believable and in proportion to the rest of the face, head, shoulders and chest. Try to find an interesting position rather than looking straight ahead. Use mirrors to view from different angles. In your sketchbook, experiment with some of the ideas you’ve uncovered during your research into other contemporary artists’ work.

Work with variations of tone and expressive line to create an interesting and atmospheric image. For your main light source, you might try using a candle, small lamp or torch in a semi-darkened room to exaggerate the contrasting lights and darks, for example. You might also work very close up with the features filling the sheet. Be xperimental and ambitious in this drawing.

Figure study 1

Assignment 4 - Figure study 1 - material samples
Assignment 4 – Figure study 1 – material samples

Found wood-chip paper from a roll bought in a charity shop – from l-r: black gesso; original roll; white gesso.

Part 4 Assignment 4 - Figure study 1 - prelim sketches
Part 4 Assignment 4 – Figure study 1 – prelim sketches
Assignment 4 - Figure study 1 - chosen ground
Assignment 4 – Figure study 1 – chosen ground

I chose to push my boundaries somewhat and selected a black gesso wash on the wood-chip, mainly to bind a few loose strands of the larger A1 section I had cut from the roll back onto the paper, but also as a challenge to my line drawing.

Assignment 4 - Figure study 1 - first sketch, white charcoal
Assignment 4 – Figure study 1 – first sketch, white charcoal – before clothes

I used a 360º DVD life model from Krieger, B. (2015) Figure drawing studio: drawing and painting the nude figure from pose photos. New York: Sterling Publishing. Drawing the nude female figure from my Mac computer screen with white charcoal pencil to map in the key features and outline of the overall form.

Assignment 4 - Figure study 1 - first sketch, finished
Assignment 4 – Figure study 1 – first figure study, finished

Life model disrobed on blue chair. Once everything was marked in with white charcoal, including robe and flip-flops, I toyed with using soft or oil pastel to render the lines and forms. However, in the end I chose DJECO gel pens and found that the effect achieved on top of the black gesso on wood-chip paper was quite dynamic – with wood-chip and gesso showing through in places adding an unusual texture to the composition. I finished off using a hard crayon pencil to pick out key lines and features.

If I was inspired by any artist in my thinking about this exercise it is probably the Austrian early 20th century figurative painter Egon Schiele. My figure study is arguably not as extremely executed as Schiele’s work, but I am inspired by his exciting mark making.

Figure study 2

Part 4 Assignment 4 - Figure study 2 - prelim sketches
Part 4 Assignment 4 – Figure study 2 – prelim sketches
Assignment 4 - Figure study 2 - second sketch, finished
Assignment 4 – Figure study 2 – second figure study, finished

This pose is also from Krieger, B. (2015) Figure drawing studio: drawing and painting the nude figure from pose photos. New York: Sterling Publishing. However, I have placed it in the context of a simple room on a bed with covers thrown off, cascading onto the floor. The model is lying with her back arched over a pillow. The light is coming through the background window.

Having lightly sketched in the figure I then worked all over with graphite and charcoal pencils to lay down the darker shaded spots. Using graphite powder in an old sock the entire drawing was dapped with varying degrees of graphite covering which I then blended, trying to keep a light touch. Finally, I used a putty rubber to pick out the lighter highlights. If anything, the shadow areas could have even been a bit darker for bolder contrast, but I didn’t want to overdo it.

The paper used was a Waterford 55x75cm 190gsm sheet.

For this exercise, I have been taken with the mastery of a number of nude paintings, such as:

• the Italian 16th century artist Titian “The Venus of Urbino”
• the Spanish 18th century artist Goya “The Nude Maja”
• the French 19th century artist Ingres “La Grande Odalisque”
• the French 19th century artist Courbet “Nude Woman Reclining”
• the French 19th century artist Manet “Olympia”
• the German 20th century artist Wunderlich “Odaliske nach Ingres”.

although I haven’t really managed to realise the inspiration received in my work, yet. I think I still need to be bolder in my execution of dark and light contrasts.

Self portrait

Part 4 Assignment 4 - Figure study 3 - prelim sketch 1
Part 4 Assignment 4 – Figure study 3, self portrait – prelim sketch 1

My inspiration for the final figure study is Courbet’s “The desperate man” for its in-you-face physical reality and the drama of the light and dark contrasts.

Part 4 Assignment 4 - Figure study 3 - prelim sketch 2
Part 4 Assignment 4 – Figure study 3, self portrait – prelim sketch 2

My preliminary sketch for the final figure study – “The thinking man” pondering ‘what’s next’.

Assignment 4 - Figure study 3 - self-portrait, sketch 1
Assignment 4 – Figure study 3 – self-portrait, sketch 1, showing candle light source (bottom right)

I photographed my portrait in a mirror and used the digital image on the computer screen as a reference guide for my initial sketch in 7H pencil.

Assignment 4 - Figure study 3 - self-portrait, sketch 2
Assignment 4 – Figure study 3 – self-portrait, sketch 2

The sketch picked out to show a darker outline using Lightroom.

The final drawing was made on a 50x60cm canvas board using Conté crayon. This took an afternoon to complete, working on the portrait all over to try and keep a coherency to the whole image. Layers of colour were built up and the blending was achieved using both paper stubs and fingers. Once finished, the drawing was given three coats of fixative.

I am pleased with the way this has turned out, while I could have further darkened the darks perhaps I feel that I stopped at the stage because I felt that the contrasts were at the same time subtle and obvious enough to give life to the face and hands, lit as they were from the candle beside me on the drawing table.

I can also see that the previous exercises in sketching facial features and parts of the body have helped me develop my visual skills in relation to the human form. In this self-portrait I believe that I have improved my rendition of eyes, nose and lips, as well as hands and fingers, quite significantly.

Assignment 4 - Figure study 3 - self-portrait, finished drawing
Assignment 4 – Figure study 3 – self-portrait, finished drawing

Critique

This assignment has been an interesting challenge and I am fairly happy with my progress in sketching facial features and parts of the human form. I believe I have used my imagination in composing all three drawings, have been creative in my use of materials as well as showing invention and ambition in the poses depicted. I also feel that I have loosened up my touch and approach to the use of drawing materials, achieving a lighter, gentler touch in working towards three pieces that have varying degrees of impact.

I may not have yet reached a point where I can claim to have developed a ‘personal voice’, but I can see progress in my journey through Drawing 1. However, I can also see some areas where even more improvement can be made – risk-taking; bolder, more assured mark making; and developing a stronger use of tonal contrast.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
15 January 2016

Published by

stuart512319

Open College of the Arts (OCA) student currently studying Drawing 2

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