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.

IV: Project structure: Learning from master drawings

This research point of anatomy drawings is important but I’d like to amend it into something more practical for me to give me what I need right now. I got inspired by Michelangelo’s drawing that the OCA coursebook shows to illustrate the anatomical study of the human body. So I started having a go at drawings I admire, trying to copy them relatively closely. This is not just to explore different styles of drawing, the hand learns so much doing this exercise.

Right: My attempt of Menzel’s graphite drawing, various pencils; left Adolph Menzel. Elderly Man in a Military Topcoat (soft graphite on white paper) 200 x 125 mm, Fogg Art Museum. Source page 201 of Drawing: The Creative Process by Seymore Simmons and Marc S. A. Winer.

My attempt compared to the original drawing by Adolph Menzel, German (1815-1905). His drawings and private paintings are extraordinary. His historical paintings are very much 19th century and fail to resonate with me but in his drawings and private paintings (the ones he didn’t exhibit) he conveyed something eternal, I believe.

  • obviously Menzel’s blacks are much more black which could be a reproduction issue in the book or his graphite was even richer. My darkest tone was an 8B pencil
  • Menzel’s cross hatching is much more vivid and clear, more like a pen and ink drawing. I think I blur the pencil marks too much when I rest my hand on the drawing.
  • my coat belly lacks volume, Menzel drew a much nicer full shape
  • I was very intrigued how he rendered the hair… I still didn’t quite get it right
  • the side/back of the head underneath the hair should be much darker in his picture – I only see this now

Strangely in my picture the man looks like my dad, while in Menzel’s he doesn’t. Must be my subconscious acting out.

Right: My attempt at Max Weber’s drawing “Head”, 1929. Charcoal and wash on cardboard. 41x32cm. Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Max Weber (1881-1961) – not to be confused with the sociologist of the same name – was a Polish-American painter influenced by expressionism and cubism but I also saw the ocassional still life that looked like he has worked himself into or out of Cezanne. I loved the drawing above shown in Kaupelis’ book Experimental Drawing so I had a go at it.

  • Weber’s composition is better with the head more upright – it looks more at rest
  • again, his lines are very subtle and varied – look at the fine lines, mine are slightly too similar to each other, so the fine lines are not as fine and the broad not as broad – more mediocre (as in “in the middle”) that makes Weber’s drawing more interesting
  • Weber’s broad strokes are quite sensitive to directional changes of the figure. They stop abruptly, linger at certain points — see the lower left where the neck goes into the shoulder.
  • my arrangement and technique is too same-samey… see hair , eyes etc… all to symmetrical — the original is not treating 2 eyes as the same stuff – they both look different

Right… my pathetic attempt at Picasso’s Fat Clown, 1905 – you live – you learn

I used a bamboo pen and ink for the lines and scribbles and while I like this pen, the lines were not very easy to control. Also this one was the first of the “copy & learn attempts” where I just started with a watercolour brush, no quick pencil sketch to plan the outline. So apart from the obvious differences in the shape… this was instructive because I failed on almost all accounts … I couldn’t get the form right nor the technique, nor could I get the brush with watercolours dry enough to achieve the effect Picasso achieved. Mine looks way to smooth… apart from anything else. I love the fat clown, but certainly not my version. Maybe it’s true that you should not try to make it right but you should try to screw it up magnificently.

Right after Michelangelo’s Libyan Sibyll drawing (see left)

The Gods of body drawing do not shine their kind light on me yet. It takes a lot more than just showing up with a red chalk pencil and a sketchbook to “do a Michelangelo”, Missy.

  • crude crude crude… – look at the sublime face and back of the original (man), I couldn’t do 10% of it
  • how on earth did he do this ultra fine hatching – it’s like an etching, but my “sanguine pencil” was much more powdery, like pastel. I read somewhere that in the 15th/16th century they used sanguine in the harder rock form. Today it’s largely pressed powder in a pencil. Not that I am claiming I could have done it with a proper sanguine “rock”.
  • light area in face is crucial, mine is not light enough
  • the back should be more at an angle – the original bends forward slightly and makes it look dynamic
  • right arm down from elbow should be thicker, actually my back is less broad too (and I added boobs, though obviously Michelangelo drew a man)

After Michelangelo’s drawing “Study of Three Male Figures (after Raphael)” (see below)

The original version – just in black and white as opposed to the red chalk it is in is below:

Michelangelo: Study of three male figures after Raphael. Source: Wikipaintings

There is much more detail and variety of tone in the original, and I am a bit bored of criticising my drawings today, so I’ll give it a break and focus on the insights, while I drew:

  • incredible tonal depth from black to white in the original
  • note the manifold internal shapes, little bumps here and there, I started wondering if he actually saw them or if he discovered you could just add bumps here and there to add volume to the shape? How could a model (if Raphael drew it first, then Raphael’s model) have kept still for such a long time to draw this in these awkward positions… or where they (Raphael/Michelangelo) incredibly fast
  • watch the shadows on the ground
  • there is quite a strong outline despite all the tonal drawing and it’s varied and strong flow, changing directions with every little bump in the body made me think that Egon Schiele is Michelangelo’s child of sorts; the physically and mentally malnourished version of Michelangelo

IV: Project gesture – Energy

5 min drawings

I am always intrigued that my 5 min drawings hardly differ from my 2 min ones. I seem to faff around when I am given the time to do so without much outcome. I like the short poses at the life drawing class as you must concentrate and merge your eyes with your pencil without too much blabla of the brain. There is no time for that.

2 min drawings

2 min drawings

Short pose (2-5 min)

Short pose (2-5 min)

The male short poses may look more finished because I went over them later with pen and ink. But the lines were there already.

quick sketches of classmates sitting in lecture

Check and Log

How well have you managed to capture the poses? What could be improved?

In general they are ok, I prefer the very quick poses of people that are not posing for me as that makes me draw very quick and I need to loosen up. The last sketch of my classmates reflect this urgency of drawing. I need to practice this even more.

Are your figures balanced? If not – what went wrong?

I think balance is not my problem. Or I don’t even see that it is one of my problems, which would be worse.

How did you go about conveying a sense of energy?

I had to be vague as the drawings had to be quick. Awkward poses and twists of the body help in terms of energy.

IV: Project gesture – Stance

Exercise: Stance

I searched for some ballet videos on youtube and stopped the video and made some quick drawings. I thought drawing quick poses of dancers would be a good exercise in balance. However, sometimes they weren’t standing in a stable way but I stopped the video while the dancers were moving … a short-term imbalance in a way.

Exercise: Stance

This drawing is from life drawing class. 5 min drawings.

IV: Project Form – Essential elements

Man smoking. sketchbook pencil drawing

This is a series of sketches – part from life, partly from pictures. 10 minutes works quite okay when I draw from life as there is some sense of urgency. But drawing from photos I tend to take much longer. More like 20 to 30 minutes.

The picture by Balthasar Balthus as an example in the course material led me a bit astray, as it seemed pretty finished and I certainly do not achieve this degree of finish within 10 min. The only sketch in which I stuck to the time limit is the last one. Charcoal might be a fair bit faster than pencil.

Man smoking: composition lacks something in the lower left corner… maybe a hint of the other arm? I like the intimacy and darkness of it though.

After photograph by George Platt Lynes (Ralph McWilliams, 1952). sketchbook pencil drawing

Man sitting in grass: I tried to be very quick about this fundamental shape as it was easy to get lost in detail such as the face or the grass which is very tender in the photograph.

Sleeping child, 10 min double sketch. sketchbook pencil drawing

Sleeping child: This is done from life. In the lower corner I made another sketch to reflect the changed arm position. Since the whole thing is largely linear, I am wondering if this is d’accord with the instruction of rendering the essential elements, which makes me think of tonal drawings of bodies.

Mother and child, sketchbook pencil drawing

The shadow in the water is probably the darkest tone together with the trousers. A very friendly and clear composition. This is probably the most 3-dimensional of all sketches here.

Sleeping child. sketchbook pencil drawing (much longer than 10 min though)

I drew this from a picture I took. The beauty of the photo lies in the magnificent folds of the bed and clothes. The child is somewhat incidental. I really like this idea of focussing on the background, but I haven’t quite done this in my sketch… mind you 10 min was totally impossible for this.

Fish market. sketchbook pencil drawing (10 min)

This is from a picture I took at a fish market in Japan. The man selling the fish was a huge bear but he was so sweet and delicate with everything, a gentle giant. This is the only of the pictures done from photos where I used a timer and stuck to the 10 min. 10 minutes is really nothing.

IV: Project Form – Essential shapes

Task: 1h, seated figure at slight angle. Notice any twists and bends.

Essential shapes

Essential shapes

  • This is a petty large drawing (larger than A3) of a skinny model at life drawing, but I made her look even more skinny than she was, I think.
  • 1h with breaks
  • There is a slight twist in the torso, so that the arm can rest on the chair’s back
  • very little foreshortening
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