Aim of the exercise: We were to draw five two-minute sketches of the model, paying particular attention to the proportions and just using the basic lines that describe the figure. We were also to draw marks onto the figure to show that we had measured the proportions correctly and to draw from the middle of the body out to the feet and the head. After the 2-minute drawings we were to make two 10-minute drawings in charcoal or graphite, then do further drawings of the pose in pens, ballpoint and felt tips.
What I experienced:
Completed 28/10/13. I do not have any experience of life drawing so this part of the course should prove to be both interesting and challenging. Prior to starting the exercise I tried to sketch while watching the news and found I didn’t manage to get very far, only managing to produce some very small and hesitant, mostly partial, heads. Clearly I am going to need a lot more practice at that. Next I had a look at trying to understand the basic proportions of a person and found that depending on which book I looked at, depended on whether they worked with the formula of 8 or of 7½ heads for the height of a human male/female. The various points that these divisions marked on the upper body seemed reasonably standard between the books, the main difference appeared to be in the lower body where in an 8 head male the line for the 6th head came just below the knee while on a 7½ head male it came one third of a head below the knee. There seemed to be some variation as well on the divisions for the face, between the books, and I found that I began to feel somewhat muddled. I also watched a video on youtube from mydrawingtutorials.com on drawing a figure in proportion, attempting to draw along at the same time. It was a little worrying when I found it very difficult just drawing a stick figure.
Feeling I definitely was going to need some more help, I’ve plucked up courage and joined my first life drawing class and hopefully this will prove to be really helpful for this part of the course.
To give some extra practice I also visited artists.pixelovely.com and tried to draw some 30 second poses, completing several A3 pages of these, (a couple of examples shown below) in the hopes that this would help me to capture the essence of what I could see quickly. Some of these came out extremely badly while others appeared to capture the overall pose better, even if my proportions were decidedly dodgy. I enjoyed attempting these and it helped to give some confidence towards starting the first exercise, and that I might be able to get round a figure in the time.
I used a timer for each drawing and was strict about stopping once the timer had gone off. I used my A3 sketchbook for all the drawings. For the first 2 minute drawing I drew by sight and tried to draw as quickly as I could. Measuring afterwards I found that I had made my model 8½ heads high instead of the 7½ she should have been. With the second attempt I drew the head and then roughly marked the head measurements in, but while drawing these in by eye I made them smaller than the actual head measurement and this time my model ended up only 6½ heads high. I was finding that, with the knowledge of the timer ticking down, I was finding it very hard to measure and draw accurately. It felt that I was trying to draw faster than I was actually capable of with any accuracy. For the 3rd attempt I drew a straight line first and then drew a scale on this before starting my next 2 minutes. Once again, I found that trying to use head measurements felt a false and stilted way to draw and I also found it hard to keep in mind what I had learnt about proportions in the 2 minutes. With the 3 drawings I had done so far with my model standing you would have been hard pushed to know that I was actually drawing the same person and I hadn’t yet managed to work from the middle, starting instead at the head each time. All were hesitant with very little pressure used on the pencil.
For the next two attempts I drew my model sitting in a chair. I stopped drawing her as soon as the timer went off and then the only thing I did afterwards was to put in some marks to indicate the rest of the chair. In the first attempt I did not manage to show the foreshortening of the legs and for the second attempt my model swapped chairs so that I could see if I could capture it any better. I also changed to a 2B sketching pencil to see if I could manage not to be so hesitant with my line. I did not seem to manage much better with the foreshortening in the second attempt and I could also see that I had used short dashes while drawing, there definitely was not a flowing line in sight.
Next I worked on the 10 minute poses. I had hoped that the extra time would enable me to get a lot further with the drawing as I would now have 5 times longer to draw in. For the first drawing I started from the middle and worked my way up from there, drawing the top of the body before tackling the legs. Despite having longer I did not manage to draw the feet in the time. Hands are also only very roughly indicated. The foreshortening looked better but the whole drawing was very hesitant. The right hand side of the drawing appeared to be more accurate than the left hand side. Next I drew with charcoal hoping that this would encourage me to be bolder but I still only produced an outline drawing in the time. The lower half of the model looks as if I have drawn that at a different scale to the top.
I used biro for the next attempt but still only managed a line drawing. I was also finding that each time I was concentrating so hard on just trying to draw the figure accurately, and in time, that I didn’t even think about line strength. As soon as I finished I thought about it, before I started I thought about it, but I didn’t think of it once while drawing. The next attempt was in felt tip. I still only managed an outline and did not manage to complete the chair in the time.
For the next attempt I used a Rotring art pen and waterbrush and did such a bad job that I’m surprised that my model did not get up and leave at this point. Without a doubt I just seemed to be getting worse. Luckily for me Maria was very good natured about being turned into a line-backer for an american football team! For the final attempt I tried a Pitt artist brush pen, determined this time to remember about line strength. Well that lasted until the timer started at which point I forgot all about it and instead produced another pretty dire line drawing.
So, after 6 attempts at a 10 minute pose I was still only managing to produce varyingly inaccurate line drawings, with not an atom of sensitivity of line in sight and I think that all the flowing lines had given fright and cleared off. The only good thing that I can think to say is that I did get round the figure in the time, and there is a certain amount of feeling of form in places. I am clearly going to need a lot of work on this.
What I feel went well: I drew within the time limits stated, stopping when the timer went off, and as itching as I was to finish something if it wasn’t completed in time, I didn’t. I feel, for this section, that keeping where possible to the time limits is important as I feel it is only fair to my model.
What I do not feel went well: Just about everything else. I did not manage to progress from a basic line drawing. I repeatedly drew hesitatingly without any active variation in line. I struggled to keep the figure in proportion. I found using heads a measuring unit difficult and drew better when I was relating areas to each other and looking at vertical, horizontal and diagonal reference points. I am not sure that there appears to be any real improvement between the 2 minute sitting drawings and the 10 minute ones. When drawing the lower half of the body I repeatedly found that I had moved my head to look at it rather than keeping my head in the same position, often then resulting in distorted proportions between the lower part of the body and the upper, as I altered my eye level.
What I would like to do following this exercise: Work on getting a better and more solid understanding of proportions, relating that to what I can see and finding a way that works for me, in enabling me to do that. To practice more poses using on-line tools. To practice using a variable line strength and then try and use this while actually drawing the model. Try and keep my eye level the same when I am drawing. Practice drawing other people whenever I can. I am finding it difficult to see the figure as shapes and planes at the moment and this is another area that I will need to try and understand better and practice when I can.
This exercise, and the next one, will give me a good baseline to assess the main difficulties that I am finding when drawing figures, and hopefully I will then be able to work on improving these.