Using different tools, materials and supports, work on three drawings of your model:
The aim is to practise making interesting studies of the figure to show you’ve understood the basic structural principles, and are able to incorporate these using whichever style or approach fits your subject.
Ensure you have a good light source to help you observe the tones and shadows that fall across and underneath the body, emphasising its structure, form, weight and position within the overall scene.
Before you start on the larger sheets, spend some time looking at the stance, posture, movement or stillness of the figure. Move around the model assessing interesting viewpoints. Look for positions that may cause a challenge through foreshortening, for example lounging. Position yourself at a slight angle, so that you’re looking down, along and across the body in different ways. Observe the difference in the scale of the head and feet depending on your own viewpoint. Remember that there are often hidden parts that may be difficult to suggest, for example the shoulder furthest away when viewing from the side.
While you’re drawing, think about the skeleton that supports the body and the muscles and skin that soften the shape into something living. Also look closely at the shapes between and around the parts of the body and the room.
When you’re ready to start, make several two-minute studies in your sketchbook before moving on to the larger sheets. Spend between half and one hour on each of the three drawings (A2 or A1 size).
Review your completed drawings and make an honest assessment. How accurately did you depict the overall proportions of the figure? Did imagining the sitter’s skeleton and muscles help you to convey the figure’s structure and form?
Using a pre-prepared 40x55cm canvas board which had been given a greenish acrylic wash, I marked out the background walls and room forms with ink wash. Once dry, the figure and radiator were drawn in oil pastel. The head and upper body may be a touch on the large side, but not by much.
This time the pre-prepared canvas board had been given a reddish acrylic wash (as seen in the top right block of colour). The background and foreground room forms were marked in using soft pastel. The board was then given a spray of fixative and left to dry. The seated figure was drawn in marker pen and given a further coat of fixative. The proportions of the seated figure are about right and the skeletal structure of the legs in particular can almost be seen through the fabric of the light trousers.
This was drawn on a 200gsm A2 sheet of fine grain/heavy weight paper. I sketched the lounging figure lightly in 9H pencil and masked off the image with tape, using black gesso to create the dark surround – almost like a letter-box cinematic effect – a hint of mystery and an unusual viewpoint.
The light pencil outline of the figure was over-drawn using the tip of a size10 round brush and black ink. Further washes of coloured ink were applied, both wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry to try and build ‘body’ to the lounging figure sinking into the duvet, Certainly not as accomplished or elegant (or naked) as a reclining Titian or Manet.
I think overall that I managed to capture the essence of the original sketched figures, although I did make minor adjustments in the completed drawings. Also, in these completed pieces I found I couldn’t hold back from using colour, both in the basic background shapes and in the depiction of the figures themselves, experimenting with different media – ink, soft pastel, oil pastel – and degrees of layering colour.
My depictions of faces, hands and feet still require more practice – the facial expressions here in particular all seem a bit eery. However, I feel that the overall body shapes and proportions are about right. I also think that I am beginning to get a better feel for (if not understanding of) skeletal and muscular form of the human figure.
Stuart Brownlee – 512319
29 December 2015