Check and log – Project The moving figure

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

I found it very difficult to capture the sense of a fleeting moment, occasionally managing to capture stance but not really much else. I will clearly need a lot more practice at this. When attempting to capture a fleeting moment I found myself mainly drawing without looking at the paper, apart from the initial glance to position the pen, and as time went on I found myself increasingly enjoying the freedom and fun of this approach. There was something quite addictive about trying for a few seconds to capture what you could see and then immediately moving on to the next drawing.

How successful were your attempts to retain an image and draw later?

I found that I could not manage this at all. I would think that I had the pose fixed in my mind and then completely lose it once I went to draw it. Even when it was immediately following what I had seen I still found it very difficult. Again, an area that will need a lot more practice.

Were you able to keep a few descriptive lines to suggest the person’s movement or were you tempted to keep introducing more elements into work?

I think that my problem was more that I never got beyond a few lines, these often involving too much of an outline. I found it difficult to make the lines I used really count, to manage to draw the essential ones only, the ones that would effectively suggest a person’s movement or action, cleanly and clearly, rather than using a bunch of lines that were searching to do that. More often than not I used too many lines where two or three would actually have done the job much better.

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Protected: Research Point – People watching

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Posted in Part 4 Drawing Figures, Project 6 The moving figure, Research points

Exercise Fleeting moments

Aim of the exercise: To capture fleeting moments with minimal lines but lines that tells the story or captures the moment. When unable to sketch in front of the subject, move on and draw what you have just seen as soon as you can.

What I experienced: I found this a difficult exercise. Whereas for the previous exercise, I had mostly drawn people who were sitting in one place and found that hard enough as they actually moved more than I expected, I found for this exercise that I really struggled to maintain a good enough visual memory to be able to draw someone that I only saw for a moment before the person moved from that position. Initially I found myself worrying about how bad I was at it but as time went on I increasingly enjoyed attempting the drawings even if there was not any big improvement in the amount that I managed to capture. There was something freeing about not worrying so much as to whether it was a good drawing or not, as quite simply none of them were good, and that really was quite freeing.

I started with trying to draw people walking or paying bills. I used a pencil for these but  found that I was very hesitant and the drawings reflect this.


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Next I attempted drawing people looking around a gallery, using pen this time. I was still hesitant and drew far too much in outline but by the last page I managed to capture the stance of one of the people a little better.

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On a return visit to the gallery I attempted some more drawings, trying this time to be looser with them and not to concentrate so much on outline but to keep the pen moving all the time. These were good fun and after a couple of pages I appeared to loosen up a bit and capture stance a little better even if I was not managing to tell the story around the person.

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During a talk I attempted to draw the speaker but once again I did find it difficult to capture a moving person, particularly with trying for more detail.

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Next I attempted to put people more into context but still only managed to capture the very basics but again it was fun giving it a go. These were done in a fast food restaurant so people were moving thorough pretty quickly. The last page was attempting to draw people walking down a footpath.

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I watched a couple of ballet’s on the laptop and tried to capture the gesture and movement of the dancers. I didn’t pause the video’s but tried to draw as the people were moving. Once again my visual memory really let me down, I found it very difficult to keep the movement in my mind to enable me to draw it.

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I also attempted to draw some people going to a counter or till and some people waiting for a train but I found that I was back to being pretty hesitant with my marks.

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A friend was gardening and so I attempted to capture the stance and story behind the actions. My friend cannot kneel but rather she gardens by bending at the waist and it was interesting to try and capture this.

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The final drawing was an attempt to capture a man that was squatting down while waiting for an appointment. I got completely lost with trying to capture the position of the legs but again, it was fun to attempt.


What I feel went well: I feel that some of the drawings have captured the stance or attitude of the moment, although admittedly not many of the drawings have. With some of the drawings I did find my line becoming freer.

What I feel did not go well: I did not manage to get down more than the most basic of lines. Things like line strength or type of line tended to go out of the window if I was attempting to draw someone I only saw for a moment. I would think of them beforehand but as soon as I started drawing I literally did not give them another thought. I never managed to progress beyond the briefest of lines and looking back at the drawings I realise that I did not experiment with different media at all, I never got beyond the stage of attempting with a pen. Many of the drawings appear very stilted and I am still drawing too much of an outline.

What I would like to do following this exercise: I would like to continue to try and capture moving people and fleeting moments. It is only with a lot more practice that I will improve. I will also need to work on being brave enough to attempt several different media and approaches.

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Exercise Sitting and waiting

Aim of the exercise: To take every opportunity to practice drawing people. We could use magazines, newspaper, TV etc as well as drawing groups of people from life eg sitting around a table, observing at a gallery etc. We were to aim to keep a fast pace with the sketching and to think about narrative.

What I experienced: I have had to have a break from the course for health reasons so I am trying now to get some of the exercises written up where I had managed to get some of the drawings done prior to having to take a complete break. So that is the reason for the difference in dates between the drawings and the write up for them. Hopefully this will also help me to ease back into the course as I have not been able to do any drawing for several months now.

I was nervous of drawing people in public so I started off with some drawings of reference photo’s on the laptop screen and of paused DVD’s, drawing these as rapidly as possible, and also attempting to copy some drawings by Rembrandt, Millais and Pissarro, trying to reproduce the type of marks that they had made in various media to help me to increase the range of marks that I use and how I use them.

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I then moved on to attempting some rapid drawings of Maria from life, in various media, aiming to try and capture the moment.

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The next attempts were drawn mostly in various coffee shops as it tended to give a somewhat captive audience. I did find it difficult though not to worry that somebody would object. All were drawn from life. I didn’t really realise until I tried this how much groups of people tend to move when sitting having coffee or talking.

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What I feel went well: I enjoyed attempting the drawings and trying to capture what I could, as quickly as I could. I feel in some of them I have managed to capture the narrative, even if the drawing itself is not very good.

What I feel did not go well: I tended to be very hesitant in my approach and will need to try and become bolder. I still tend to concentrate too much on outline. I felt very tight and uncertain with the drawings on many occasions particularly while drawing members of the public. I am still finding it difficult to keep proportions accurate while drawing rapidly.

What I would like to do following this exercise: Practice drawing lots more people. Hopefully the more I draw, the more I will be able to get down the essentials of character, movement and life.

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Check and log – Project The clothed figure

Did you find it easy to approach the figure as a whole or were you distracted by details of the sitter’s dress?

I found that, particularly on areas with complicated folds, it was easy to start to concentrate too much on a particular fold and not relate it sufficiently to the whole. I was lucky that the dressing gown was plain and therefore there wasn’t a pattern to become distracted by.

How did you create volume in the folds of fabric?

By observing the fall of light and dark and the formation of the fold and what it overlay, how these elements were combined created volume in the folds of fabric.

Does the finished drawing give a sense of the figure beneath the fabric?

I think that overall it does, although some areas more successfully than others, the least successful being the area over the abdomen.

How would you tackle a drawing like this again?

I would aim to not lose sight of the interconnectedness of folds and fabric, to each other and to the form underneath. I would also try to remember to relate everything to the whole throughout the drawing and not zoom in too much on complicated areas. If I was doing the same drawing again I would omit/simplify some of the folds within the abdominal area, drawing the ones that help to suggest form and omitting any that were unhelpful in describing form and I will need to remember to do this for future drawings.

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Exercise Form and movement in a clothed figure

Aim of the exercise: For the model to wear some soft fabrics that help to describe the form of their body and to draw the clothed figure as a whole, disregarding the details of head, hands and feet and concentrate on drawing the body and the fabric. To observe the gesture of the figure and how the fabric helps and even exaggerates this movement. Use hatching to create form so that the fabric and figure appear to have weight.

What I experienced:

clothes_NEWCompleted 23/11/13. My model wore a dressing gown over her clothes and sat on the sofa. I used A2 mid-toned pastel paper and black and white Conté crayons to complete the drawing. I sketched in the overall proportions of the figure in charcoal first and refined this with the Conté crayons. I found it quite difficult, at times, to not get so caught up in trying to draw a particular fold accurately that I didn’t then forgot about the whole. This is probably most noticeable in the folds directly below the model’s folded hands where some have become disjointed because of concentrating too much on an individual fold. This was quite a difficult area to draw as there were a lot of folds and needed a lot of concentration to try and understand what I was seeing. It has been fascinating to see how some folds interlock, how they are formed, the relationships to each other, how one is affected by the other, how the lights and darks are vital to giving the impression of a fold and how the way that these are portrayed alters the appearance of a fold from sharp to more rounded, and how they follow and suggest the form underneath. I enjoyed attempting the drawing but certainly found it difficult. I decided to only suggest the chair as I felt that extra detail in this area was unneeded.

What I feel went well: I think that it was a reasonable first attempt and I think that I have been reasonably successful in creating form so that the fabric and the figure appear to have weight. I feel that the depiction of some of the folds has worked well.

What I feel did not go well: I struggled with some of the more complicated areas and these appear overworked in relation to the rest of the figure. In complicated areas I found myself concentrating more on the individual fold and did not relate it sufficiently well to the whole. The way that I have depicted the folds across the abdomen do not show the form of this area very successfully. The drawing took me a couple of hours to complete which is still far too slow. Areas of the drawing are too over-worked. I did not simplify the folds over the abdomen to help make this area clearer.

What I would like to do following this exercise: As already mentioned in the previous exercise I want to become much more aware how various fabric behaves and to notice this when I am out and about. It is not something that I have closely looked at before this project. I found in the previous exercise it was interesting to really notice for the first time the difference in how the duvet cover settled into folds against how the fleece blanket did. Carrying on from these exercises will help me to continue to work on becoming more visually aware.

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Exercise Fabric with line and form

Aim of the exercise: To throw a piece of clothing or a length of plain fabric across a chair and then to make two 15 minute sketches using line only with a soft pencil or charcoal. Then in 5cm squares to draw five-minute sketches of different parts of the fabric.

What I experienced:

Completed 22/11/13. Prior to starting this exercise I looked at how other artists had drawn material and was once again awe-struck with the mastery of Leonardo da Vinci’s Studies of Drapery. I enjoyed seeing the different approaches from the looser style of artists such as Edgar Degas and Jean Antoine Watteau to the intricate drapery studies of artists such as Frederic Leighton and Elliot Daingerfield. I also found the sections on types of folds (pages 328-349) in Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life by George B Bridgman very useful in understanding the various types of fold that may be seen in drapery.

fabricoverchair2_NEWFor my first A3 drawing on cartridge paper I used the plain side of a duvet cover as the material and drew the first 15 minute sketch using a Conté crayon, Black B grade. I found it quite difficult to follow the folds and show these in line only and ended up using a little bit of tone in any areas that I was getting too muddled with line alone. The drawing helped me to settle into looking for the folds and understanding how they lay. I didn’t manage to draw the chair in as it took me all of the time to draw the material.

fabricoverchair_NEWFor the second A3 drawing on a mid-toned pastel paper I started using a 4B graphite pencil but found myself increasingly fascinated by the folds and ended up developing the drawing beyond the line stage to see if I could accurately portray them and understand better how to show how they fell and the form that the chair underneath gave to the fabric. I enjoyed attempting this drawing and used a mix of 4B and 6B graphite pencils and white Conté crayon to complete it. I chose to just suggest the chair as I preferred the detail on the fabric only.

fabricboxes_NEWI found drawing sections of the various folds in the 5cm boxes surprisingly difficult as it isolated them out of context and some of my attempts do not look much like folds at all. I enjoyed trying various media and found that the least successful, in this instance, was oil pastel which proved to be just too thick for such a small box. In boxes 1-10 I drew the duvet cover and in the rest of the boxes drew the folds of a fleece blanket. I used various Conté crayons for the folds of the fleece blanket and enjoyed using them and it was interesting tackling deeper folds formed by a different material. The richer darks that the Conté crayons also helped in the depiction of the folds.

What I feel went well: I feel that the second drawing of the duvet cover over the chair has worked quite well. I had felt surprisingly nervous of starting this exercise as I had found the folds that I had tried to draw of my model’s clothes, in previous exercises, quite difficult to understand how to portray them and felt very clumsy in my attempts. I feel that the reading I did prior to starting this exercise helped to give me a better understanding of what I was seeing. I think the folds are reasonably successfully portrayed. I enjoyed using the mid-toned pastel paper and combining the white Conté with the pencil drawing.

What I feel did not go well: Having had a period of time where I have been unwell and have therefore had quite a gap between this exercise and the last, I then caused further delay by procrastinating about starting. Each time that I think that I have got on top of that it seems to pop up further down the line. Clearly this is something that still needs more work. It took me a few days to be able to get back to the attitude that doing something, anything, however good or bad, was a lot better and a lot more productive than all the sitting and thinking about it (and all the million excuses I am capable of running through as to why now was not a good time to start!). Once again, my mark making could have been more imaginative. I think that the second drawing worked better than the first. I found it much harder to follow the folds on the first drawing and the drawing is quite muddled on some of them.

What I would like to do following this exercise:  I need to ensure that I avoid procrastinating about the next exercise and to that aim I would like to complete that tomorrow. When I am out and about I would like to observe, much more, how various fabrics that people are wearing fold and fall. It is not something that I have particularly noticed before and it will all help me to get a better understanding of how fabric behaves and how to portray it successfully.

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