21 September 2009

Figure Drawings - Part 2

Here are the last few figure drawings from this term. I learned a lot the past 10 weeks from Jeff Watts in the long-pose figure drawing class, and from Ben Young in the 20-minute figure lay-in class. Quicksketch and long pose classes are a very effective learning combination, highly recommended. A quicker lay-in leaves more time for the finish.

This term I realized the importance of hands to a figure drawing or portrait. Hands add an energizing secondary focal point, and can be as expressive as the face. No need to perfectly render them, in fact less detail is more interesting. But the figurative artist needs to be able to draw/paint them well....I also observed how diagonals energize the pose by creating long dynamic lines. I saw lots of poses in my figure lay-in class, and the diagonal poses were always more appealing than the verticals or horizontals. The diagonal can appear in the figure itself or the cast shadow patterns. Simple but worth mentioning.

On another topic...An instructor at Watts, Stan Prokopenko, also blogs and recently posted a chronicle of his artistic development from beginning art student to instructor-level artist, over a 7-year period at Watts. It's a worthwhile post if you're curious about what one can expect with time and effort in this sort of learning environment. A sort of art student "before" and "after". Look around his blog while you're there, lots of good how-to and technical content.

Final note: The images above were drawn in 2 hours with a Conte Pierre Noire 1710 B charcoal pencil on 24 x 18 smooth newsprint. Jeff worked up the leg in the first image and the upper left leg in the third image.

03 September 2009

Figure Drawings - Summer 2009

It's a good idea to keep your drawing muscles in shape, even if your primary medium is paint. In painting classes, students who can draw seem to have a definite advantage over those who can't. Often when there's a problem with a painting, it can be traced back to the drawing. So as I transition into painting, I continue drawing classes to maintain and improve my skills. This term I'm taking 20-minute figure lay-ins and a figure drawing class taught by Jeff Watts. Jeff is a gifted artist and teacher. He's brutally honest, in a nice way, so you always know where you stand.

Jeff has made it clear I need to work on anatomy. Good figure drawing requires some understanding of it. To shore up my knowledge, I've started to study/copy drawings from Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life. At the moment, I'm focused on legs. I figure I can "practice" legs now or I can spend time correcting poorly drawn legs later. I choose practice. A warning that some beginning students find Bridgman useless, but as your drawing skills improve you begin to understand what an incredible resource this book is for the serious figurative artist.

As my basic drawing skills improve, I find I can focus more on aesthetics, like using cross hatching to energize tonal shapes and edges. I tend to draw smooth tones into my shadows, which can be dull and static. The texture of cross-hatching, added on top of a smooth tone, is a huge improvement. It's most obvious here in the first and third images.

The images in today's post took approximately 2 hours each, drawn with a Conte 1710 B charcoal pencil on smooth 24 x 18 newsprint. Jeff worked on the elbow area of the top image and the knee area of the middle image.