Thursday, 20 May 2010

Life Drawing Spring Term: Week 3 - short study poses

When faced with the challenge of life drawing I have a habit of jumping straight in - frantically trying to draw everything I possibly can of the model posing for me, with little to no sense of direction or purpose. While this is can be a fun and rewarding process, the end result is often something I don't understand and crucially - the experience of making the drawing leaves me equally confused about my process because of a lack of clarity in my intentions.

Lately I've been trying to train myself to spend the first few minutes observing and assessing what I'm looking at without picking up the pencil. The idea being I consciously decide on what it is that interests me most about the pose, it's environment, and then choosing which areas I want to respond to and which bits of information I want to leave out. I'm also trying to do this in relation to the length of time the pose is being held for. This is all in an effort to get closer to my subject and therefore create more meaning in my work. For myself.

So here's a couple of 10 minute poses from Week 3 of life drawing class at The Princes's Drawing School:


In both these drawings I specifically set out to pay attention to the centre of gravity, leg placement and twist in the body. I resisted the urge to get caught up in a tonal study, and instead tried to remain focussed on just conveying the sense of weight I was seeing in the pose. I spent the first 2 minutes of each of these poses simply observing the figure without making any marks on paper with my pencil. That may sound counter-productive but I actually found it vital to the process of really looking at your subject which, ultimately, is what drawing is all about.

Here's one of the shorter poses I sketched during the session. This one is a speedy 2 minute drawing:

Even with a short pose like this, I observed the model for a quarter of the time prior to picking up the pencil. As you can see I chose to look at the relationship between the top half of the model and the ceiling. The contrast of the bold triangular graphic arrangement of the ceiling elements and the organic, rhythmic lines of the body was fun to sketch.

We had 20 minutes with the next pose and after much observation I decided to do a study of the repeating triangular forms I could see stacked across one half of the body:

I'm sure it's really obvious, but if not, the pattern I'm referring to can be followed from the small negative space forming between his armpit and raised knee, the dark triangular gap between that raised leg and the other leg, the overall shape of the raised leg also forms a triangle (against the floor), and of course the knee of the leg lying flat pokes out in a triangular form. It's pretty cool how frequently patterns like this constantly emerge naturally in the human body. And nature in general. I was also interested in the patches of highlights, mid tone and shadow I could see across these areas which help describe the forms.

I'm starting to find that training myself to really look at my subject, every time I approach the act of drawing, can truly enrich my love of it.

Here's the final drawing from this session. It's a 40 minute pose where I tried to apply everything I was doing earlier, all at once:


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