IV: Drawing figures – col sleeping

Task: Draw a model in a pose for an hour or so allowing the model to get breaks at least every 20 min. Choose the medium to your liking.

Quick sketch from life. Colin sleeping on sofa. (Sketchbook entry.)

A great holiday nap on an intricately patterned orange red sofa. I started sketching from life first but then Colin moved to an even better position turning his head towards me of which I took a picture just in case.

Colin sleeping on sofa. Pencil drawing.

Then I had to revert to the picture I took as by that stage he had moved. I first made a sketch with a black felt-tip marker, to which I added watercolour. You can see the felt-tip marker is water-soluble, bleeding out a bit. Yet I feel this is probably the best picture I ever made. It is still very free – slightly smudged in parts, but that doesn’t matter here. My drawings are usually rather tight and not focused on the essential bits. But here I managed. It is only there what had to be there.

Colin sleeping on sofa. Ink felt pen with watercolour wash

However then I tried to make another drawing based on this rather quick sketch. And I tried to make it bigger and neat destroying the whole thing. The fluidity is gone and so is the charm. There is certainly more detail (face, background) but that really doesn’t add to the picture.

Colin sleeping on sofa. Watercolour, ink. Roughly A3.


Were you able to maintain a focus on proportion at the same time as creating a sense of weight and three-dimensional form?

I think that was ok. I don’t measure the proportions much though I try to be aware of them, which sometimes creates a problem as the things may in the end not fit on the paper. This time I tried to measure a wee bit with my pencil. But when I did… like in the last big watercolour… it added to my stiffening up. Maybe I should try to go back to the fluidity of the smaller watercolour/felt-tip drawing. There was something there that I am seeking.

Which drawing gives the best sense of the pose and why?

The second pencil sketch and probably the last big watercolour. The latter because everything is spelled out. The former does that too but in a much more economic way. It leaves out much detail from shirt and background focussing on face and hands. The watercolour gives equal weight to every part of the picture and that is simply not attactive. Like a good essay or lecture drawing and painting should stress one or two points well, instead of 20 points poorly.

Was there any movement or gesture away from the model’s central axis? If so did you manage to identify this and put it into your drawing?

I am not sure I understand this question so I just skip it.


IV: Clothed figure: Form and movement

Clothed figure (hatching)

Clothed figure (ink + hatching, ink wash)

Seeing Rembrandt’s self portrait with the strong and vivid hatching on my wall I thought I should try hatching fabric/clothed bodies, since I am really not good at that and I should train more. So this was last night’s training session in front of the telly.

I made this picture from a picture made before 1910 found on Flickr Commons. I have this morbid obsession with old photographs – thinking that all these children and young people depicted in 1910 are long withered and dead now. Some of them look really fresh and alive. My head says “so what” but my heart seems unable to comprehend. I keep stumbling over the fact they are dead and look at us so freshly, preserved for eternity as if my vinyl has a crack. It may have. My favourite of all these old pictures is this one here:

Woman and boy (Portrait de femme assise serrant un enfant dans ses bras, en intérieur) between 1859-1910.

Woman and boy (Portrait de femme assise serrant un enfant dans ses bras, en intérieur) between 1859-1910. Source

It is so delightful and funny, I wonder if they thought they had wasted a precious glass negative for a not-posed picture or if they were equally delighted about this snapshot – and yet – can you actually imagine that they are dead? This little mischievous boy who only just fooled around with his mum there, with her touching his hand ternderly, now long gone?

IV: The clothed figure – my favourite folds


Adolph Menzel. Unmade Bed. ca. 1845. 22.1 x 35.5 cm. Black stone and stump on greenish-gray paper. Credit: Photo: Jörg P. Anders, courtesy Museum of Prints and Drawings, National Museums in Berlin. Source

Imogen Cunningham. The Unmade Bed. 1957. Source MET

Lucian Freud. Standing by the Rags. 1988-9. Oil on canvas. Tate. Source Tate

Good God, the first time I saw Freud’s picture above I just couldn’t turn away. It is mind blowingly beautiful.

IV: Self-portrait: Two self portraits

double self portrait

double self portrait (pencil, colour pencil)

Self portrait 2 (ink)

Self portrait 2 (ink)


Self portrait 3 (ink)

Self portrait 3 (ink)

I quite like the last multi-coloured drawing. It’s so exaggerated in its almost garish colours but I find it very lively. I wanted to use relatively pure ink colours and I only have a pinkish red, yellow and blue. Necessity always seem to breed something good.

IV: Self-portrait: Drawing your face

Task: Draw a minimum of five 5 min sketches of your face describing different angles of your face and head (sketchbook) – first without neck, then just sketch your neck.

Self, 5 min drawings

Self, 5 min drawings

The first sketch is from life, the others with a quick photo booth snapshot for this purpose (so I can sketch my profile for example). Interesting – the one from life is the most striking or individual.
It’s wisdom and fate winking at me and my photo usage I guess.

IV. Project moving figure – Sitting and waiting/Fleeting moments

Young Man in Cafe, Hong Kong

Young Man in Cafe, Hong Kong

Girl in cafe. Biro

Admittedly these people in the university cafe are rather stationary since they all look at computers, tablet phones and the like which makes people rather stationary (vegetably), but even then I felt I had to be quick. The girl with her computer sat much longer than I would have hoped for, hence the detail. I like this sketch. There seems to be movement (the girl seems to lean slightly to the right as if readjusting her seating position) and narrative as she looked so concentrated. Every now and then she read out what she had just written silently moving her lips.

Girl in cafe

Also after being a chicken so many times not asking strangers that I found interesting to look at if I could sketch them sometime, I asked someone yesterday for the very first time. See the first sketch – man in cafe. Since I have 4 girls I know lined up for drawing sometime soon (says she hopefully), I am pleased to say I asked a guy. A stranger. And he said yes! Let’s see though if it works out. I wasn’t quite sure if he thought I was hitting on him, I guess I just caught him off guard with my question. But it was easy. Friends! Ask and you shall receive (at least sometimes)!

At airport

Jay in class

Halley in class

Child Drawing (10 min study)

Child Drawing (10 min study)

Child Drawing (2 min studies)

Child Drawing (1 min and 3 min studies)

I really like the right drawing above, which has to me captured so well what I saw and felt. There must be some essence of my son in there.

Check and Log:

How well did you manage to create a sense of a fleeting moment rather than a pose?

Only the last picture (right one of the 2) of my son and Jay in class manages it well. I am starting to wonder if I need to really like the people if my drawing should be good. That would be fatal as an artist. I need to overcome this. Too much stiffness.

IV: Project structure: Three drawings

Man standing (from life drawing)

Man standing (from life drawing, 15 min), sepia pencil/red chalk

Standing figure:

  • less time spent on it than 30min admittedly, but a standing man nonetheless
  • this drawing is from a while ago, one of the more finished tonal drawings from the evening life drawing sessions I went to in October
  • there is too much shade in the bottom, the shape seems wrong because of that
  • I dislike the paper with the sepia – it’s too coarse for a smooth shading which I attempted in this drawing
Sitting man

Man relaxing on a bench. Charcoal + grey-shades of pastel on light red brown pastel paper, between A3 and A2

Sitting figure:

  • Drawn from a 70s photograph I found on Flickr Commons… Lacking a model aside from myself I searched for photographs on Flickr Commons that are not impressive pictorial solutions but rather full of presence of the person. I sometimes found that photographs that are too impressive as an artwork themselves suck me in and I tend to repeat what’s there in a different medium. That doesn’t really make any sense.
  • the body should be more bulky – mine is too thin, lacks the presence it has in the photograph, the big shopping bag to the right is a bit unnecessary… it disturbs the composition
  • I focussed on the light and dark areas of the figure so that a body with some weight would emerge, that works well with charcoal and pastels
Child sleeping. Charcoal on Newsprint paper. A2ish

Child sleeping. Charcoal on Newsprint paper. A2ish

Lying down figure: I just grabbed the chance as my son passed out for an afternoon nap after his tiring 3rd kindergarten day. Ah, childhood. I really quite like my charcoal drawing with charcoal on newsprint paper, which despite being thin (80gsm) and very cheap works really well with charcoal.

  • I tried to focus on the light and shade on the fabrics again to give some volume to the shapes, and this worked well.
  • The composition is pleasing – a bit of mess and some order, varied main lines (figure slightly squint horizontal and opposing verticals of cushions)
  • tonal drawings and graphic/pattern solutions like on the socks – stripes work so well as a pattern in drawings
  • there is a fair bit of foreshortening in the legs

Check and log

How accurately did you depict the overall proportions of the figure?

The standing figure and the lying down one are pretty well observed in terms of proportions. But then maybe that is a fallacy since the sitting man is the only one I have a picture for reference against which to check my drawing in retrospect. So maybe this doesn’t matter as long as it works the eye is not disturbed.

Did you try to imagine the sitter’s skeleton and muscles? Did this help you to convey the figure’s structure and form?

I just tried to watch the dark and light as accurately as I could in the limited time, hoping the body/shapes/muscles would appear automatically with the focus on light and dark patches.

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