The aim of this exercise is to use different tools, materials and supports to work on a standing, seated and lounging model. There wasn’t any opportunity to move around the model in the packed life drawing class but the model did assume a number of different poses which set a range of challenges.
I had hoped to work over two lessons with the same model for this exercise but unfortunately the model couldn’t make it the second week so I have included here what I managed to do in one session, and included a few from another session with a different model.
Two minute studies standing (Figs 1. and 2.)
These are more sketches than studies I think. I only aimed to achieve line and indicate position on limbs and where the balance was. In Fig. 1. I aimed to look at the relationship between the raised arm, the head and breast. Fairly obvious I know, but raising the arm also lifts the breast, and from this angle obscures some of the face. This would have been an interesting area to return to for a longer study but I guess it would be difficult for the model to keep her arm raised for any length of time.
In Fig. 2. I think that line of the shoulders (sloping) and the relationship between the head and the legs show that the model’s weight was on her right leg.
Five minute study standing
In Fig. 3. the model was standing with her weight on her left leg but it was crossed behind her right leg, giving her a slightly off-balance look (it would have helped if I had drawn her legs below her knees). Again, the slope of the shoulders and the position of the head help to indicate where the balance lies. Tombow pen is water-soluble so I used a wet brush to spread the ink to indicate areas of shadow. I think that this gives an added sense of weight to the figure. I started to add some additional texture with crayon but the time was up and the model changed pose. There wasn’t time in the class to do a longer standing drawing. I will have to see if I have time to do another longer standing drawing of another model to insert here.
5 Minute studies
I wanted to capture more of the upper body and arms crossed at the wrists in this front-facing drawing (Fig. 5). The willow charcoal gives it a soft feminine feel and I am pleased that I haven’t overworked the facial features but just hinted at them. The darker tone in the background offsets the delicate marks well. I also like the hint of harder edges to the charcoal here and there. It’s amazing what you can do in 5 minutes if you don’t over-think things too much.
The model obligingly turned around so that I could draw her back view (Fig. 6.) also in willow charcoal. Again I attempted a darker background next to her face and tried to capture the slight twist of her torso as she was looking to her left. The back and spine were interesting and would have deserved a longer study in themselves.
Thumbnails and longer studies
The model assumed a semi-reclining position for the longer studies. I wanted to get the whole figure on the page, and fill the page up, so I decided to do some thumbnail sketches first (Fig. 7.).
Although I was pleased I had got all the figure in the left sketch there seemed far too much background for a pleasing composition so I played around with cropping the thumbnail. I did a separate thumbnail of the detail of the head to help me with the final drawing too.
Despite all my planning the figure in the final drawing (Fig.8.) still turned out smaller than I wanted it.
I had used stick and ink in still-life drawing and wanted to try it on a life drawing. I was probably a little more inhibited than I could have been but I am fairly pleased I have managed to capture the image. I aimed to have heavier lines to indicate weight and tone but have over-used them in places (model’s right hand foot). The scraping marks with the side of the almost-dry stick are useful, again to indicate tone and shadow. The foreshortening of the model’s right leg was particularly tricky but I tried to isolate the shapes. I judged the size of the foot relative to the model’s head – though the foot may still be a bit small.
We had a break after 40 minutes and had another 40 minutes to go so I thought I would start another drawing of the same subject in a different medium (Fig. 8.).
Using pencil gives a much softer feel to the drawing and, in my view, suits the model better. I tried a contour approach trying to keep the pencil on the paper, but I fear I have “outlined” too much. I spent a lot of time trying to get the foreshortened right leg right. It’s getting there but I am still learning to record what I actually see rather than what I think it should look like. For the feet I was trying to channel Henry Moore, I think the scribbly approach works well with lighter and darker marks. I didn’t have time to apply this approach consistently across the drawing.
I left my guideline marks in. I drew a vertical line so I could see where the head came in relation to the knee and the torso. The head was on a slight tilt so I drew diagonal lines to indicate this. I had to change the model’s right shoulder position as I had initially drawn it much too broad. This then put the bottom of the body out of kilter but I didn’t have time to adjust it.
Another model sitting and lounging
I am not sure that the model in the previous drawings could be said to be “lounging”, more like semi-recumbent. So I thought I would include here some drawings I did of another model who is both seated (Figs. 9 and 10.) and definitely reclining (Fig. 11). The model was of a similar curvaceous stature to the last model.
I like the sharp edge to the conte stick, though I am note sure it is the best thing to depict a curvy female form. Her arm in particular appears more muscle-bound than I intended. Indicating the spine gives the body a sense of form.
The softer charcoal better represents this model’s curves. I struggled to get the legs right on this one but managed to capture something of the chair and room to place the model in her setting.
In this final drawing of a lounging figure I combined the hard edges of conte stick with some softer willow charcoal. The biggest challenge on this was the foreshortening of the model’s left leg and the model’s head which was at an angle away from my position so I knew I had to keep it smaller relative to other parts of the body. I drew the line of the torso (marks retained) so that I could gauge relative positions of the hand legs and face. The model’s right foot is unconvincing. It looks too sharply turned to the model’s right and is too small.