Drawing the human form is challenging and can be very frustrating. Yet it can be exhilarating and sublimely satisfying. The process is the key. Here are some pointers.
– Gesture Drawing to warm up, and avoid inhibition.
– Work quickly, drawing arm outstretched, look for flow, rhythm and movement.
– Work boldly, with the whole. Avoid premature attention to detail.
– Use the side of the tool to block in the large areas in shadow. Charcoal is a most effective medium. Do not measure at this stage ; check the half way point and use plumb lines.
– Squint and see the lights and darks
– Keep exploring, avoid hard outlines, early lines won’t necessarily be the best.
– Areas of light and shadow give volume and substance to the figure.
– Explore the landmarks and plane breaks, – see on Figure 4 – the shoulder, under the collar bone, down to the base of the rib cage and similarly the top plane of the knuckles of the clenched hand.
– Even at a final stage, keep away from detail
– On this draped figure, only the big folds have been described, enhancing the underlying planes.
– Charcoal is great, but soft pastels as a drawing tool, can be exhilarating!
– Placing the figure in its context, and using colour to continue exploring the form can be a thrilling part of the process.
– Life Drawing needs continuing practice, and good teachers are invaluable.
“Drawing is like studying Greek and piano – you can’t speak or play in your conscious, which is clumsy. You must get into your subconscious, which is graceful. But that takes time. ” ( Hale, R.B. 1991 Master Class in Figure Drawing Watson – Guptill Publications/New York )
If you’ve been inspired by the tips above then take a look at our Art and Craft supplies to try your hand at home.
You can find out more about Jill Preston on her website.