02 July 2011

Lessons Learned From Long Figure Drawings

Here are a few figure drawings from a recent class on advanced drawing techniques.  A standard life drawing class is about 2 hours of drawing time, barely enough time to get a solid finish.  In this class, taught by Erik Gist, we had 4 - 6 hours of drawing time...enough to slow down and work on pose idealization, edge work, shape design, calligraphy.

I don't plan to draw like this too often.  I like a loose, painterly result, and I tend to overwork and over-render my longer drawings.  But they are a powerful learning tool, especially combined with shorter drawing exercises.  Each approach teaches something different.   Artistic cross-training.

Some comments on these drawings...

Model movement is a challenge during longer drawings. You can see movement in Jonathan's right leg, below.  It started out lateral on the first day, and moved to center on the second day.  If my anatomy knowledge was stronger, I could have pulled off the drawing.  I left that twisted leg as a reminder to review my leg anatomy. Model movement is part of life drawing. If you're a figurative artist, you learn to work with it.
    In the drawing of Stephanie, you can see where Erik adjusted the lower leg contours (darker lines).  By reducing the size of the ankles and feet, Erik improved the overall feeling of form in the legs.  Some artists idealize form in unique, and sometimes subtle, ways that define their style.  Small adjustments in the right place can have a big impact.

      Stephanie, charcoal on newsprint, 24 x 18", 6-hr pose

      Jonathan, charcoal on newsprint, 24 x 18", 4-hour pose

      If you are a student of figure drawing, get Henry Yan's beautiful book on the subject.  Full of examples of both short and long charcoal drawings, using a variety of techniques.  A good reference book.


      1. Your proportion and skill is great on both of these. Really nice work!

      2. Gwen and Julie, Thanks for your comments and visits. Drawing isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I find the effort pays off in better paintings, at least for me. Best regards. Candace.

      3. I am very impressed by your paintings and drawings. They are really sophisticated! I follow you from now.

        Please have a look at my photo-realistic paintings at:

        Best regards - Lars Käker

      4. These are beautiful. The longer poses seem to allow time to explore a richer range of values.

        It looks like you work from top to bottom, as the feet are fairly rough shapes in both drawings. Maybe that is intentional to draw the eye towards the top.