Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Drawing Week: Day 3

Here's a collection of drawings I made today at life drawing class. Like before, we began this session by drawing a 30 minute pose from observing the model, followed by a drawing from memory of the same pose. Dig:

Oddly, the one from memory feels more real to me, despite the proportions and weight being way off from the real thing. I suppose that's the point of a memory drawing - it being a metaphor for discovering one's inner view of the outer world, and discover self, even if it is at first on a superficial and somewhat visually warped level.

Check out these two 40 minute poses, first in pencil on cartridge paper:


then in conte on watercolour paper:


When drawing each of these, I remember being quite aware of the twists in their bodies and trying to empathise with the physicality of the pose as I drew it. Not easy.

Speaking of empathy in drawing, drawing "blind" is a great exercise to help you become aware of that concept. The idea is that you draw the model without ever looking down at your paper (hence "drawing blind") and ideally never taking your pencil (or pen, brush etc.) off the sheet. This is the complete opposite to drawing from memory because the only thing you can do here is draw directly from life i.e. observing and recording simultaneously.

Here's one I "drew blind" while focussing purely on the model:

As with many drawing exercises, it's really about the process, not the end result and is assessed accordingly. However I must admit the results are intriguing, but I'm biased because I can recall what I was doing when making most of these lines.

Here's another one I "drew blind", while extending my attention to include the space the model was in:

The final two drawings of the day were made through an exercise that dealt with the subject of space in a very direct way - by making a single mark on the sheet for every single object you could see in the studio. Sounds bizarre right? And it made absolutely no sense to me until I followed through with the process.

Predictably, such a drawing by me looks a bit like this:


but rather unpredictably, the image I produced made perfect sense to me and as it emerged gradually over 40 minutes or so of concentrated mark-making, revealed itself to be incredibly spacial - a quality I consider severely lacking in my regular attempts at drawing from life.


This exercise in particular helped me realise that when I draw, in my head I frequently default to naming the elements I see according to preconceived notions of what they should look like rather than what they actually do look like and crucially, where they specifically exist in relation to each other and me.

Remarkably, those dots on the page bring more meaning to the untouched areas of the page than any drawings I've ever made previously. A head-fuck I'll be pondering for some time to come.


  1. first 'blind drawing' is strangely invoking, almost like a lifeform of its own, love it!

  2. What you call "drawing blind" is a very old drawing technique to teach one to have better eye hand coordination and is called "contour drawing". Normaly you do something a bit simpler than a person and when you can look at the finished picture and it looks more or less like what you were drawing, you have learned something.

  3. Hi Tristan, thanks for the comment. Interesting, I wasn't aware it was called "contour drawing" as well, makes perfect sense. What I liked most about the exercise is that it highlights the importance of empathy, with your subject, when making a drawing.

  4. Hi Rob, thanks for the comment, glad you like the drawing! :)