Project 4: Structure: Exercise 1: The structure of the human body

I have started a new sketchbook for this exercise.  I am hoping that Leonardo Da Vinci will inspire me.  I have found Life Drawing Class by Diana Constance invaluable for my learning on life drawing and many pages in this sketchbook draw on the book’s contents.

sketchbook cover

Most of my commentary is written in the sketchbook but I may add some further reflection in my blog as I add pages.

Body 1Body 2Body 3Body 4

More to add as I complete more drawings in sketchbook.

Additions 2nd July 2017.

Leg and arms bones.

Leg and arm bones
Leg and arms bones

My hand.

My hand
My hand

Quite a few discoveries looking at my hand.  First, I have so many lines and marks on my hand – the few scribbles I have added don’t do them justice.  Second – I have discovered a new bone in my thumb!  Daft I know, but I didn’t know how long the thumb really is if you count its length from the third joint which comes nearly to the wrist.  Knuckles are hard to draw.  Interesting exercise.  Who knows what I will discover when I draw my feet.

Update 19th July 2017:  My feet

I decided to try a different drawing approach for my feet.  I started by incising the outline of my feet (taken from a photograph) in my sketchbook and then drawing over with the broad edge of a graphite stick so that the incised outline could be seen (Fig. 1.)

Feet 1
Sketchbook Feet 1.

Then I worked into this with hard and soft graphite pencils and a putty and hard rubber, and added some Tombow pen for the stool (which was probably a mistake) (Fig. 2.)

Feet 2
Sketchbook Feet 2.

The graphite, smoothed out and left rough, allowed me to capture the different tones and textures of the feet.  I am not sure about the incised line though as it looks a little artificial – I could go over it with a fine pencil I guess, but I am going to leave it as it is for now as a reminder of my technique.

Research Point:  Look for historic and contemporary artists whose work involves the underlying structure of the body.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 -1519) is an obvious place to start when looking at artists who strove to understand the structure of the human body.  Such was his passion to learn more about the structure of the human body he dissected corpses to make anatomical drawings which he used as a basis for his developed works.  (Honour, 2009:467).  His accurate drawings were unprecedented and he is said to have discovered things about human anatomy which were not independently researched until long after his death (Popham, 1973: 60).  He used this exploration to underpin many of his drawings and paintings, although he was also interested in proportions and composition (and many other things!).

An admirer of Michelangelo and Durer, William Blake’s drawings and illustrations often featured the “stripped” appearance of musculature and sinew.  Although, as Blake was most keen to portray meaning through his work, it seems to me that his attention to physiological accuracy was nowhere near to that of da Vinci, and that a great deal of “artistic license” was used.

Laura Ferguson says she aims to draw herself “from the inside out”.  She has visited medical schools to draw bodies from “life”, and her work shows how intricate and beautiful the internal structure of the body and its organs can be.  I must admit that I do wonder, however, about the ethics of letting an artist look (and even at one point dissect) cadavers if it isn’t for the furtherance of medical science.  I just hope that permission has been obtained from relatives of the deceased or those donating their bodies to science.  Source:  website:  Laura Ferguson:  The consciousness of the body.




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