Exploring Colour in Figure Drawing, Part 2
Moving forward with the colour experiments I started in the last art post, I decided to focus on more solid blocks of colour, continuing with pastels to start with but then moving onto ink sticks (which are much harder to control!). Again, I tried to focus on a sense of scene or a moment but concentrated much more on mood this time.
A girl with bright pink hair on a cold day provided inspiration for this one. I used soft pastels but tried to be MUCH more selective in my use of line, only really using it to define features and fabric. Experimenting with a background that gave the piece a sense of movement and direction was fun, trying to capture the grey day and the way it muted shapes and colours.
More bad weather and I decided to have a go at something more monochrome on coloured paper. I used a black inkstick and chalk here – trying to capture something of her posture in the solid shape of her black coat and white legs, and to portray the transparency of the umbrella and the rainfall through smudged chalk. The paper itself provided that perfect indistinct background of rainy days.
I’ve been continued to be inspired by Ego Schiele in my work – his confident use of flowing line, unusual postures and bold blocks of colour especially. Tones are often fairly flat and fabric features heavily. I love how much he manages to portray in portraits where you don’t see the subjects face – I am more and more drawn to compositions where the subject is turned away from the camera, or facing away from it entirely. It makes you realise how powerful body language is and how much can be communicated just via body shape and posture.
I decided to continue working with water soluable ink sticks and dip pen and switched to watercolour paper for this next one. I’m not entirely pleased with some of the colour tones here – I have a limited palette of inks so it’s hard to use them in combination that successfully, but it did make for quite a stylised, bold portrait, which I like. It was fun drawing an older face, and trying to depict personality here was challenging and enjoyable. I wanted to make the mouth look like it would be quick to work, with the heavy gaze not missing much! The whole thing was missing something but I found the paper was thick enough to be able to use a penknife to scratch in some highlights. I like the ragged, worn quality it brings to her face and clothes.
Inspiration here came from contemporary painter, Sadie Lee, who uses unorthodox and striking subjects for her work, with lots of use of bold colour, and bolder gaze.
I continued the theme of older, slightly harsh faces in my final piece. I used the water-soluable ink sticks and dip pen again, but concentrated more on tone here, with heavy blocks of shadow .
first workings -
Stanley Spencer provided inspiration here. Painting during the first half of the 20th Century his portraits often featured heavy-set subjects faced towards to viewer, with heavy shadow and muted colours…
To finish my piece I introduced colour, using purple tones (drawn on top with the sticks then blended with a damp sponge) to add a depth the shaded areas, a very light wash of watered down ink to add more subtle tone to the face, and then very selective use of other colour
I was pleased with the final result here and want to try and use some of this same use of heavy shadow, focusing on shape and selective colour in my final assignment piece. I very much like this traditional portrait ‘framing’ too – head and shoulders with the focus on expression and personality in the face. I feel like I’m using colour much more confidently now. Looking forward to bringing it all together in my final piece which I’ll post the results of soon.
Thanks for reading!
Exploring Colour in Figure Drawing, Part 1
Time for a drawing update. Hello! I have been pootling on here. With the end of the course in sight but no desperate rush to finish, I have been taking my time with my last drawings. This has freed up some energy and time to try and focus on my health a little more, which now seems to have settled into a chronic pattern of neurological dysfunction that brings a lot of challenge to each day. I am doing well though, in head if not in body. One last self portrait to do and then it will be time to put this drawing course to bed – an apt closing subject, to be honest, for a course that I have worked alongside such dramatic change in my personal circumstances and necessary way of approaching life. I’m hoping I can find some way to make my last piece reflect that.
Before that though, I have been focusing on experimenting on using colour in my figure drawings, using the example of other artists to guide my ideas a little, but trying to be brave and do my own thing too. I experimented a little more with drawing surfaces, from brown wrapping paper to watercolour paper with a background wash, and coloured pastel paper. I tried to work more loosely where I could, although find I still tend to be drawn back to strong line. In all my pictures I tried to capture something of a moment rather than just a fixed pose, something of an attitude or atmosphere, experimenting with drawing medium accordingly.
I’ll present two sets of posts of pictures to show my progress. Here are the first few…
I continued to sketch when I could, using pen or pencil to work as quickly as I can.
A trip to Covent Garden provided particular inspiration – both the next two scenes came from there and were worked using soft pastel and line pen directly onto brown wrapping paper. The little girls were from a sketch I made first in my sketch book and worked up big, using the full width of the wrapping paper at about A1 size.
It is works by Degas, examples of which appear below that provided the main form of inspiration here. The subject matter is very typical of Degas – musicians and girls in tableaux of movement and gesture, combining line with sweeps of colour, often utilizing coloured backgrounds like in the bottom picture here. Simple mark making in the background doesn’t detract from the picture but still helps to ground the figures, while giving them an almost ethereal quality. Faces aren’t always shown or that distinct and yet that doesn’t seem to affect the way character can still be depicted. I love working in pastel so this kind of impressionist technique really appeals.
Experiments with watercolour pencil were slightly less fun for me, but Berthe Morisot inspired, with something of a naive charm about her pictures, often domestic scenes, faces subtley worked and lines and colours worked sketchily. My son on his rope swing provided a subject matter I hoped would work in a similar style – I first put down a roughwater colour wash then used graphite pencil and watercolour pencil on top, not being too concerned about ‘keeping in the lines’ and letting the colours smudge together.
More coming up!
Figure Drawing Inspiration and Moving Forward
As I’ve been working the last part of this module, I’ve spent much more time hunting around for influences. With the way this year has gone, it’s been difficult to get out to many exhibitions or galleries, aside from seeing the Lucian Freud portrait exhibition in early summer, so I’ve mostly had to hunt around in my own virtual galleries for the same kind of experience of looking closely at other people’s work.
Seeing Lucian Freud’s collection of portraits was a wonderful witnessing of how an artist can evolve. It was fascinating following the exhibition through from his earliest work - wide-eyed, dead-skinned, simplistic portraits – through to a much more life-like approach and a fascination with intimate and disturbing poses and scenarios. His techniques changed, from flat skin tones and areas of colour, through to more dynamic use of colour tone and brush work. It showed me, in a slow walk through his career, how much an artist can GROW and change. As a very fledgling artist it was a challenge to me not to be afraid or down-heartened by these early years work of mine, knowing that I have more in me, and that progress comes with taking the thing that really inspires you – for both of us, people – and using that as a springboard to experiment and development.
For my last project piece I hope very much to do just that, in so far as I’m able. The more figure work I look at, my own as well as other artists, the more I am turned off by classic poses, depicted cleanly, or with very gentle tonal subtly, with the emphasis on realism and demonstration of very fine skill. I like it, I think it’s clever and admire it, and I even want to emulate it, but it rarely really moves me personally. I think as a learning artist there is the tendency to try and pursue this kind of work. It is obvious from the pictures themselves that the artist is skilled at the art of portraiture and drawing/painting techniques. And of course, I’d like to be able to demonstrate the same, but pursuing it doggedly can also become a self-limiting way to try and prove yourself.
Moving forward I want to try and shift my focus away from the demonstration of realism and emphasis on overly impressive fine skill, in an effort to try and create something I’m pleased with, and instead work the other way around. I will start at thinking about what excites me, what fires up my interest and then try and find different ways to capture this interest.
With this module it was the more informal drawings I loved doing most. Sketching people on the street, taking secret photos to work from, trying to hunt out interesting or intriguing scenarios… They weren’t always my most accurate drawings, but they were my most interesting. So I’d like to try and use this type of figure drawing as my base to work on. More sketches, live when I can, or using a combination of live and photography when I can’t or want to work in more detail, and then developing these drawings by working bigger, trying different media, perhaps using more colour.
With this in mind, it’s the following I will be carrying with me to inspire me as I start my last pieces of work:
I am increasingly fascinated with this guy’s work. A young protege of Gustav Klimt, he died tragically young along with his wife in the early part of the 20th century. Admittedly, some the drawings and paintings he produced are pretty disturbing. I don’t always love the way he portrays women in his pictures, and many of his work seems to reveal a dark, conflicted mind, with endless slightly tortured self portraits. But he was BRAVE. He seemed to want to challenge what was beautiful, breaking away from traditionalist ideas. For me the draw is particularly to the way he uses interesting, twisted poses. There is often the sense of the subject being ‘caught’ in the act of something rather than posed, and they have an energy, intimacy and immediacy about them. Most feature strong or snaking lines with selective use of colour which I really love.
Use of Colour
I’d like to have a go at experimenting with coloured pastels and oil pastels more and it’s works like these by contemporary artists that show me how colour can be used in figure drawing in ways that are exciting. I love how just simple sweeps and blocks of colour can still express so much grace and character.
Brush and Ink
It’s been suggested by tutor that I might want to try brush and ink as a media to explore, and I would love if I could find a way to use simple washes and splodges in the same was as Jordan Mejias, above. I thought I’d seen most of Georgia O’Keefe’s work, being an especial idol of mine, so I was quite delighted to come across this work of hers below showing a similar technique.
As well as washes like this, it would be good to try bold line drawings with a brush. Scary though – I always find ink so intimidating as it’s so permanent!
Lastly, I have been particularly inspired by drawings of the everyday. These charming illustrations by Kaatje Vermeire convey something of what I’d most like to be able to pin down – a moment, captured. I like the emphasis on specific details and objects as well as the people, the shoes, bag, umbrella, as well as the sense of movement and action – something I’d very much like to get better at.
Two Portraits – Figure Drawing Assignment
I cannot quite believe I’ve finally got here. Months later than planned, but my final assignment pieces for my Figure Drawing module are finished and sent off. It’s been a hell of a couple of weeks getting them done. I have been so determined to try and get this module finally submitted before Christmas, but trying to make that happen around bad days, endless trips back and forth to the hospital, and the Christmas mad rush of this time of year, has made for some gruelling days! I have never pushed so hard in all my life and I am, I have to admit, utterly, utterly exhausted.
Still they are done, and more importantly I loved loved loved working on them. I am so pleased I have the option to do some more figuring drawing for my final project work of this course ‘year’ (although y–e–a–r may be a better way of writing it given how long that ‘year’ has taken!) – I feel like it’s only really now that I’m really starting to get my teeth into all this. Proportions finally seem to be coming a bit more instinctively. I’m working faster and more confidently. The final project I will complete next is meant to demonstrate much more boldness of technique and experimentation and I feel like my work in this figure drawing module has really prepared me to a level where I’m ready for that. Fingers crossed for some energy and better health in the new year so I can really give it my all.
Right then, my assessment drawings.
Assessed Drawing 1: Line and Shape
For this first drawing I sat John in an upright position at the dining table. My study was to focus principally on line and shape – that is, expressing accurate proportions and finding ways to describe facial features and the ‘sit’ of clothes, using line only. This is tricky for me. I am more naturally drawn to tonal studies, I think. Line studies always feel a bit exposed. Errors in proportion and composition are easier to spot, and it’s hard to get the balance between energetic, expressive line, and over-worked pictures.
Quick preparatory sketches, again, didn’t focus on likeness or desperately accurate representations, but in exploring pose and identifying what might work, and what wouldn’t, in possible compositions, and as always were a useful exercise, very much helping to make the final piece better. The first (below left), I worked straight in pen. I liked the ‘gradient map’ type effect on the clothing and the bold, confident lines. The pose didn’t work for me though – once I had switched view, the tightness and pull of J’s body and gaze down towards the book, the balanced ‘up/down’ shape of arms and gathering of fabric, I got a much better feel for the composition of the piece.
With the second sketch shown, though (top right), worked in pencil, I fell into the trap of slightly overworking some of the detail. The temptation to add more lines to express the scrunch of J’s skin, and the folds of his shirt, didn’t enhance the picture. I realised that I really wanted to find a way to work this piece using clean, selective lines.
Moving to work on the finished drawing, this is what I focused my energy on. I tried to use bold, simple lines to show the anatomy and relative proportions of the pose. I tried to boil the expression of J’s face down to the bare minimum of lines, while still showing something of his character and concentration. Shorter, directional lines help to show hair growth and some facial lines, to prevent him looking too skeletal and flat.
The temptation to overwork the jumper was immense, but I tried to be as selective as I could, while still trying to show the fit and folds of the fabric. NOT EASY! I started out working very very faintly in fine mechanical pencil, committing to stronger lines with a thicker point. This was the scary bit as once that dark line was on, I wasn’t going to be able to erase it without it showing. Adding the lines of shadow, even without the tone, helped, I hope give some interest to the foreground and add to the slightly geometric feel of the piece.
On the whole, I’m pleased with this one. It has a style I like and I’m pleased with the accuracy of pose and proportion, and my selective, bold use of line. It looks like J, too, and carries something of him.
Assessed Drawing 2: Tone
For the second piece J was to be in a reclined pose, so we decided on the sofa so he could watch TV. The cream of the sofa contrasted well with the wall behind it and dark cushions, clothing and blankets, providing wider pictorial possibilities, and a strong light source from a lamp created good contrast in the fold of J’s jumper.
I sketched quickly in pencil to explore what pose might work best and how the light was falling. Quick, loose pencil marks made it easier to express the tonal qualities, but there was such a rich range of tone available to draw that I decided, in the end, to use charcoal and chalk for my final piece. Although sometimes having less energy about them, I love the way that the combination of charcoal and chalk gives you SUCH a wide range of tones to work with, from very dark, right up to white.
It was the fabrics of this piece that really stuck me as I was exploring initially. I loved the deep folds and tones of J’s jumper, his weight on the cushions. The blanket on the back of the sofa, once we experimented with pose a little more, gave another fabric to incorporate and some background interest, helping to pull the composition together as a whole picture.
I completely lost myself doing this one. I started out mapping the proportions as I had learnt, then gradually began to build the tonal values up. The light source was to the right of J, and slightly behind him, throwing highlights onto the rear of his jeans and left arm, onto some the higher fabric folds, and the very far side of his face, but left much of the rest of him in velvety shadow. The dark side of his right arm and shadow on the back cushion helped to depict the slight twist to him, and I loved working the folds and scoops of the jumper to show the way it twisted and pulled around him.
Getting the balance of tone was hard, the right amount of very dark, and mid tones, and light, and how to juxtapose them next to each other so you still got a sense of the difference, say, between J’s top and the cushions underneath him, or between his trousers and the blanket. It meant that I had to alter the tonal values slightly, sometimes, than were true of real life. The blanket needed to be slightly lighter than was true otherwise would have overpowered the composition. The negative space of the sofa and adding a darker wall helped to balance the tones too and pull together the picture together as whole.
For J’s face, I tried not to overdo the tone. I didn’t want a heavily toned face to get lost in the picture, so kept it slightly softer than the fabric so it would stand out in contrast. Careful shading helped to still give a sense of the skin’s fit over the skull, though, I hope, and the fine work of the hair gave the face some texture. I do love that it properly looks like him
It was a big job, this, and I poured my heart and soul into it. I love the drama of the tonal contrasts and am particularly pleased with J’s jeans and arms on this one. It made a good contrast to some of the other portraits I’d done which had stronger tonal lines on the face and less detail on the clothes, although I have to admit, I think I do enjoy working stronger features and if anything bugged me about this finished piece, it was the slight lack of energy in the face. Most importantly, though, I think both pieces really successfully demonstrate how much I have learnt and developed during this module, and it’s a big boost to my confidence to feel I have come so far, even if it has taken longer than planned.
Thanks so much for reading. Fingers crossed for some positive feedback from my tutor.
Drawing Portraits From Memory
For the next set of exercises in my figure drawing module, I was to draw a portrait from memory – my boy Kai’s face.
You would think when it comes to a face you spend hours looking at every day, this would be easy . This exercise proved surprising in how untrue that was. It also made me realise how little we REALLY look at the faces of those around us every day, and it was a re-discovered joy to really study my son’s face. I remember gazing at him like this when he was a new baby, and it was wonderful to trace his bigger boy lines and shapes with my eyes, observing the way his eyes turn down slightly, studying his round face with pointed chin, his short, round nose, trying to memorise the curve of his thin lips and the freckle sat upon his top lip.
The numpty I am, I posted off my sketchbook to my tutor this morning without photographing the preliminary sketches that I did to warm up to this exercise, but I first tried quick sketches of Kai as he was playing, trying to practice and capture something of the shape of his face and the proportion and arrangement of his features. Even with him right in front of me, none of them seemed to come out looking much like him! I was struggling to get Kai to sit still long enough to get many decent sketches done, with the added problem of him interrupting me every other minute, so I looked at photos too, trying to memorise the lines and patterns of his face. A beautiful hobby , one I’ve started to do with John’s face after numerous drawings too.
Even if you’re not an artist I can recommend this as a pastime – it doesn’t even have to be someone you’re very close to, if you can get away with covert looking. Learning to really look at the faces of people around you is, I think, a wonderful way to appreciate new kinds of beauty. It becomes very difficult to see someone as ugly once you’ve really studied the unique play of line and expression, and hinted-at biology and family resemblance on someone’s face. It’s like having a hundred thousand walking little picture shows to watch and delight in.
Once it was time to put all reference aside and work completely from memory, I tried to work as fast and instinctively as I could, concentrating on face shape and the main features of eyes, mouth and nose. My attempts certainly don’t look exactly like him, but they DO capture something of him, I think. What’s interesting is that some of the drawings seem to depict an older Kai, capturing the proportions but not so much of the softness and still slightly baby-featured immaturity of my four year old’s face. It felt like I’d inadvertently been given a pencil time machine, and I will love looking back at these pictures in a few years to see how accurate my accidental ‘predictions’ were!
Goodness me, drawing self portraits is a weird experience. Like most people when it comes to thinking about their appearance, I can’t say I am particularly enamoured with my own face, so scrutinising it from different directions in a mirror to try and draw wasn’t always particularly comfortable for me. But once I switched off thinking it was me, and started viewing it as just another face to draw, just another arrangement of features and shapes to try and get in the right place, I started to relax into it and quite enjoy it.
I used a combination of a mirror and my iPad. This turned out to be a useful thing for self portraits – you can turn the camera on and use it like a second mirror in order to see awkward angles, or if it’s a really tricky head position that you just can’t hold in your memory long enough to look down and draw, you can take a quick photo to work from.
As I’ve started doing when it comes to these exercises, I started making REALLY quick sketches. I try not to spend more than a few minutes on each one, and although it doesn’t make for the best drawings to start with, with accuracy not always that great and it certainly not showing off my best work, working this way helps me ‘warm up’. It helps me to start to observe problem areas, and to start to practise shapes and lines, without worrying about tone too much. It makes me really LOOK and notice what I’m drawing, so as I start to move into more careful drawings, I work more confidently and produce better work. None of them looked like me, but that was okay. I am getting so much better at understanding the process in all this – first you experiment, make mistakes, then you learn from them to produce your better work.
After the warm up sketches I spent a little longer on a couple more, trying to get a bit more detailed. I was getting there with the likeness, starting to learn more about my own face. I have a long face, quite pointed, with high cheek bones. In profile my nose is long but it isn’t sharp so from front views my nose is rounded and soft. My eyes are quite large and ‘open’ and my mouth is very full. My neck is quite long and with my short hair tends to look very straight and pronounced. I started having a go at introducing tone, (incidentally, massively overdoing the shadows around my eyes in the picture below – I look like I’ve walked into a door frame!)
What was funny is that I ended up drawing myself looking so miserable! The thing is, when you’re drawing yourself ‘live’, your face is in a relaxed, expressionless state as you concentrate on what you’re doing. Maintaining a smile or expression would have been really hard work. Working this way doesn’t really show off what I really look like though, doesn’t show much of my character. I end up looking tired and serious, although to be honest, when I was working on these I was extremely tired, but doesn’t really show what my face is usually like – face slightly twisted in a lop-sided grin and eyes smiling. So I didn’t love the pictures I was producing for that reason. If I was to do more self portraits I’d want to try and fix this – capture something of ME rather than just get my proportions right.
Anyway. Practise done I decided to do two self portraits - one in pencil and one in charcoal, each allowing me to express the tones and shadows or my face in different ways. Pencil was well suited for a drawing with heavy shadow, while charcoal allowed softer blending of skin tone in the second. I used my practise sketches for reference and a couple of photographs – I’m beginning to find it easier to ‘composite’ a drawing, using different elements from other images to form a new one. Satisfyingly both have good likeness and I was really pleased with the way I managed to capture some of my features, my mouth especially.
Thanks for reading! I am finally nearly finished with this unit – one assignment piece finished and only one more to go. Hurray!
Sketching People In Everyday Life
I think I’m going to rename this drawing unit ‘The One You Will Be Working On For All Eternity’. Man alive, it’s taking me a long time. I’m embarrassed how little I’ve been able to work. So… *braces self*… I am on a mission to get this thing finished, silly disease be damned. I would really really like to start painting in the New Year and that means a focused effort to get through this last body of work.
RIGHT. Let’s do this. Next up in my write-up of work I’ve done so far, is the drawing project of ‘The Moving Figure’ in everyday life. I’ll be honest from the get-go, this pushed me waaaay out of my comfort zone. I’m not a particularly adventurous artist just yet, I know this. I hope to be one day and think I have it in me, but I don’t find being pushed easy. With confidence still a bit of an issue, especially with the added dimension of health difficulties, I cling to controlled situations, being able to work at my own pace and with subjects I feel safe with. This is boring though, and not the artist I want to be. I WANT to be braver. I’m hoping working with paint next year might ‘open me up’ a little in this regard, I’ve always found it so much easier to experiment in that medium. Anyway, in the meantime I’m doing my best, and so gave ‘The Moving Figure’ project the best I had. I am SO self-concious drawing in public. It is horrible and a real problem, I wish I could be braver. I long for an invisibility cloak so I could sit and draw people un-noticed for hours!
I quickly realised this was about working FAST. Really really fast (hard for stiff fingers and slow reflexes!). You’re probably going to have less than five minutes to draw someone, and they’re probably going to move. I got lots of half-outlines of people. Sometimes I only managed to get half a drawing done and then sat and reworked lines, or added details after they’d gone. Gravitating towards people sitting gave me a better chance, especially if they were looking at something or waiting. It was interesting to note that even if they moved slightly, people seemed to revert to ‘default’ poses and settling of their limbs.
Accuracy was hard. You have to work instinctively, not really looking at the paper. Maintaining the proportions I’d learnt from previous figure drawing was a challenge. I began working in pencil but started to favour working directly in pen to make me bolder and think more about the marks I was making, be more selective and not over-work. Pen sketches always seem to hold more energy, somehow, too. Quick expressive marks were needed to show pose, facial expression, the weight and drape of their clothes. Facial detail was difficult and too fussy to really add much of, especially at a distance. You had to be really selective about what you chose to draw, really look at what ‘defined’ the person you were drawing and concentrate on that. Their stance or pose? Their clothes? Their general gaze, gesture, or something they were holding? It was a great lesson in people-watching – something I may come back to write about in more detail.
I tried to draw people who’s pose or presence suggested some kind of energy or purpose, with the drawing conveying something about the wider scene or situation. I didn’t want them to be too ‘posed’, more about a moment. I’m not sure how well I always managed this. The instinct is always to draw something that is still, however short a time it is, cause movement is so hard to convey. I should have maybe tried some more experimental drawings – people in full movement. Maybe when I’m feeling better the dance studio down the road might be worth a phone call if I’m brave enough.
When I couldn’t draw live, I took photos and drew quickly from them, trying to work as fast as I could, as if they were standing in front of me. When I was stuck inside I even used photos of people on the internet, just to keep my hand in! Sometimes I did both – did as much drawing as I can, then took a quick snap to look at and see if it would tell me anything that I could use later to ‘finish’ off the picture. The sitting girl waiting in the cowboy boots was a good example of that. I find retaining details in my mind difficult. The drawing from memory unit later I worked on more recently really pushed me there.
Here’s some sketches then. Some of them are better than others, obviously, but there are a few I am pleased with. I’ll comment more on why I drew them, and what I was trying to convey.
This guy is a regular in a particular coffee shop and never stops moving his hands to express himself as he talks. I would have liked to have drawn a whole sequence of images of his hands in their different places but I got a bit self-concious drawing him as he sat in the window. He always wears those big shades, no matter the weather!
I loved the line and perspective of the tables and the people’s heads (although didn’t manage to get this down all that accurately) and the ‘scene’ of three different people, all reading but in different positions.
Older men sitting. I love how the all seem to wear similar trousers and how they ride up to show their socks as they sit. Here I wanted to get some element of concentration in poses. The left-hand sketch is not so good proportions-wise, with his body too short (he was sat confusedly trying to work a mobile phone, which I found endearing), but I was pleased with my right-hand drawing of the man in the hat. I used very few lines and like the feel of it.
Man nodding off on a bench, in biro. His head is a disaster but I was pleased with his legs and shoes!
I liked the way her profile peeped out of her hair.
Fast fast fast one! Waiting for a bus. Starting to experiment with a more scribbly pen style. Here it was the sense of waiting and the big bulky coat I concentrated on. The details of the street were added afterwards – in reality there were more cars but it would have made it too fussy.
It was her cowboy boots and slouchy bags I loved, the forward lean of her, and the strange way she held her hand as she sat with her fingers across her face. Half worked from a photo, I liked having to time to build up the hatching in this one.
Coloured in afterwards. I had just drawn the outline and thought this would make a good silhouette.
Quick one of Kai balancing on the curb in the lane by our house (I may have made him walk it a few times)
Cold and hunched and holding shopping. Pleased with this one. Can’t believe looking at it now how fast I drew it.
Oh old man bandy legs!! I love them. Feet pointing out, a slight forward hunch and uneven lean of weight – I hope this drawing conveys something of the movement of ‘old’.
She was not at ease in that group. Quiet, anxious, forever looking over her shoulder. I liked how she was part of that group but separate and some of the little details – her scraggly hair and worried face and hands, her bag on her lap as if she needed to run at any moment, the dark lips and long nails of the woman in glasses.
After all my low confidence I actually loved doing these. Really loved it. I think doing them and working like this really helped me grow and added a new element to my work. Writing up this post has made me hungry for sketching again. Maybe some more quick pieces like this would be a good way to try and get my fingers working again ready to do my assignment.
Self-portraits were up next! My own face! Eeep!
The Clothed Figure
I’d had some practise drawing fabric in the early still life drawing aspect of the course and found it just as tricky now as I did then. Folded fabric is made up of so many different lines, shadows, highlights, shapes. It feels more like landscape drawing than still-life, maybe some weird alien vista, or drawing an aerial view of a desert or Arctic tundra. Volume is created by carefully using shading and tone to highlight the way fabric folds, overlaps, pinches. Shadows reveal the ‘crevices’ or more wrinkled areas while highlights those that are ‘higher’ or flatter. It still struggles to feel very effortless, this, with it easy to get lost trying to perfect minute details, not knowing what features of fabric to include and what is less necessary, but that will allow a picture to still depict a voluminous form.
Initial studies in charcoal and pencil…
Project ‘The Clothed Figure’. Exercise: Fabric with line and form
To follow I drew my model in his big dressing gown, (which I love to steal), focussing entirely on the dressing gown itself and the way it hung on his body, marking the uncovered areas of his uncovered body with line only. It helped to focus me, this, with the exposed body shapes, hands, legs etc creating areas of negative space that helped me ‘see’ the form of the dressing gown more clearly. I used a hatching technique to try and create volume in the fabric, focusing not just on the folds in the dressing gown, but in the way it fit the body underneath. As I drew I kept hold of a sense of the form underneath the fabric, what lines of the body might have caused the fabric to crease or fold or drape or tuck. This helped, I hope, to give a real sense of the figure underneath the clothing, even without the detail of the face, revealing details of his posture and frame, and I’m pleased with the result and the way I tackled this one.
Project ‘The Clothed Figure’. Exercise ‘Form and movement in a clothed figure’
Next up, which I will write up as soon as I can, was the moving figure and sketching members of the public. Tricky but WONDERFUL – I really loved it.