Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Life Drawing: Winter '09 pt. 2

I had another great session at life drawing class on Monday night. For whatever reason I found it much more challenging this time round but still incredibly fulfilling.

We started things off with a series of 10 minute drawings. The interesting thing about this exercise was that our tutor had arranged a variety of chairs, tables, stools and boxes all at various heights and distances from the model. The model was asked to hold one pose for forty minutes and we were instructed to draw from a different vantage point every 10 minutes, by positioning ourselves on or around the arranged furniture. Here are some of those drawings:

LifeDrawing2009-01-19_01
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You wouldn't know by looking at this first one but I was actually sitting on the floor a couple of inches from the model and looking up as I sketched. There was an incredible amount of distortion of proportion as I looked up at the model and down at my sketchbook - a warped perspective that I found incredibly hard to capture.

LifeDrawing2009-01-19_03
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For the second drawing I moved across to the far corner of the room. A deliberate attempt to contrast my experience with the first drawing. From here I found it much easier to see the large shapes in the pose. Proportions were easier to control too.

LifeDrawing2009-01-19_02
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I moved closer to the subject for the third and forced myself to stand at the same eye-height as the model and stood front-on to him. Suddenly everything looked much flatter to me, as I struggled to capture the twist in his pose, while keeping my knees bent to maintain eye-height (he was a little shorter than me). The result speaks for itself.

LifeDrawing2009-01-19_04
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In this fourth attempt, I sat up on a table. This subtle perspective shift was tricky to get right.

However frustrating, experiments like this taught me loads about really looking when drawing and how important it is to consider the relationship between you and your subject from a purely geographic standpoint, let alone emotional or intellectual.

In my struggle to achieve a likeness of the model in each drawing, what I inadvertently ended up capturing was more the experience of my attempts than anything else. Not sure if I was very successful at that either, but I certainly became much more aware of my habits when I draw. So effectively, while I initially set out with a view to having the model as my subject, through the process it seems my subject revealed itself to be the experience of engaging in the act.

Realising that shit blew my mind, so after a short break we began a series of longer poses, around 20 minutes each. At the start of each pose I walked around the room and made a conscious decision as to where I wanted to draw the model from:

LifeDrawing2009-01-19_05
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I chose this angle because I wanted to study the weight distribution I had noticed but struggled to capture in an earlier drawing (see third image in this post). How this was happening in the body seemed the clearest from this side, specifically the relationship of the hips to shoulder orientation, via the spine and placement of feet. The rhythms in legs shapes and patterns on the back also made this point of view fun to explore.

LifeDrawing2009-01-19_06
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For the only sitting pose of the evening, I decided to sit as if I was conversing with the model. So I was fairly close and had a very clear eye line to him. The overlapping body parts added visual interest and depth. I also noted a twist in the body - something I tend to have trouble drawing.

LifeDrawing2009-01-19_07
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For the final pose I decided to find the highest point in the studio (two boxes stacked high up on a table) to get a near-bird's-eye POV. Interesting vantage point, had I more time I would have pulled back further and drawn the group of artists gathered around him, sketching away.

In a group environment it's all too easy to just accept where you end up in the studio space, setup and draw from the same spot all evening. But on Monday night I learned that deciding your point of view, geographically, is just as important as anything else in making a drawing.

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