Monthly Archives: September 2017

Part 4: Project 4: Exercise 1: Structure

This Project is on close drawing of the human figure… which I’ve split into five parts:

(1) Toes, feet and ankles.

(2) Calves , knees and thighs.

(3) Hips and torso.

(4) Shoulders, arms and elbows.

(5) Hands.

I used ‘Anatomy for Artists – A Complete Guide to Drawing the Human Body’ by Barrington Barbour and ‘Life Drawing’ by Eddie Armer.

I’ll post the sections as I complete them.

(1) Toes, feet and ankles.




The shape is very important… or more precisely, drawing what is actually there rather than what you know!!!

It struck me that feet are like the rest of the body… cones, cylinders… and lots of curves which makes shading difficult. The main thing is not to panic!! Get the shape right… relate everything to everything else… then painstakingly relate everything inside the foot to each other… see the negative and positive shapes… use ‘points’ then use your eye… keep switching between the close and the overview.

And be confident!

Finally, feet are very individual. As much so as faces. You wouldn’t draw a generic face and the same is true of feet. The individual details give the feet life and vitality.

(2) Calves, knees and thighs.





A couple of things about this… firstly the photographs alter the original!

Plus, now that I’m reading ‘Art & Illusion’ by E.H.Gombrich I realise how representative art is a translation within conventions – not a copy of ‘life’… and how it’s the overall relationships of tone rather than local tone/colour that determines what a paintings effect on the viewer… (and lots more!!!)… including how a photograph is not a copy but transposed… altered for brightness/contrast etc.

So… I’ve suddenly become aware of the lunging gap between the work in my sketchbook and these photographs!!!!!

But, I digress.

What struck me with these drawings is that when you get them right it really does (for me) suddenly look like a person in motion. Even though it’s only the legs!

My ‘judgement’ is not photographic… or realism… but emotional… do they ‘feel’ alive!!!!!

Secondly, I became aware of the patterns within the shapes and (for the first time) the difference between shape and shading really made sense. And how everything within the figure (negative space, positive shapes) all relate to each other.

After finding the shape and  I find myself drawing ‘relationships’ rather than ‘things’ – and swapping between a close up view (you see the patterns and ‘feel’ the flow of muscles) to a distant view where everything comes together and starts to work as a whole.

(3) Hips and torso.





Torso’s are very difficult!!!!

You’ve got large flat areas with an underlying structure (bones, muscles and tendons) which bend the surface (the skin) and therefore the light . So you get lots of complicated tonal areas that are all interrelated.

And that we are very good at reading!!!!!!

I found the shape was really important. Once you had the shape you can fit the ‘patterns’ of light and shade inside it.  And the best way to find the shape was to draw an estimation, by eye, then correct and amend it as I added the internal shapes… relating them to each other and to the shape.

What occurred to me is that, in real life, I’m unlikely to be drawing naked people… just hands, head and feet. But that fat (these are all young toned people – so, very untypical!!!!) and clothes are like another layer on top of an underlying structure. The big difference is that skin bends and stretches as it is flexible, whereas clothes tend to crease.

However, all VERY good drawing practice.

And, as I’m learning (and enjoying immensely) from my Art and Illusion by Gombrich what I’m doing is creating a flexible template… developing a visual language that I can use to help me with drawing people, but is fluid enough to allow amendments to draw individuals.

In as far as this exercise is to draw a true representation not having been trained is a benefit as I don’t have a developed visual language which is going to make me ignore aspects of ‘reality’. And to create a representation that, in any way, resembles the one before me is a real challenge.

However, I would say the book I’m using (Anatomy for Artists by Barrington Barber) has serious drawbacks as many of the illustrations, look plain wrong. Not like any people I’ve ever seen. They look like stock people. And some of the hands and hands and feet look plain bizarre!!!!

I think, perhaps, there was a lot of template using in his book?!

(4) Shoulders, arms and elbows.





Arms are a surprise… much longer, slenderer and more beautiful than I thought. With the possibility of all sorts of expressive gestures. Which is probably why they’s so widely used in dance.

They are very likely to be foreshortened, and seeing the structure in space (as well as what I actually see!) is key to getting it right. Sometimes it’s just the angle of the tiniest line that pops them into focus.

As well as shapes shading the turn of the muscles is a very useful exercise.

My favourite is the arm that ’emerges’ from the background. It ‘feels’ more human. This made me think about the different mediums… seeing shapes in line or in masses. And different ways of using the same drawing tool.

The more I do this the more body makes sense – but it could be applied to any 3D structure.

Another thing is the tonal relationships are very important. The difference between pattern, grotesque and suddenly breathing life is VERY subtle. And, I’m very likely to have to draw arms in real life.

Finally, these are all, big muscley specimens… useful for underlying muscle structure… but there’s an argument to have the arms of ‘real’ people!!!

5) Hands.



Hands are great… what I particularly like about them is the way they show weight and character.

Weight in that if you get the hand right you can emotionally see the rest of the body. And how it’s placed in space.

It’s weird!!!!

In fact all of these hands feel like they’re attached to bodies. It’s almost like you’re drawing the whole body when you draw the hands. Although all these hands are ‘chopped off’ that’s not how I ‘feel’ or see them.

Hands can also expressively show emotion.

On a technical level it seems to be about getting all the bits properly related to each other. We’re so used to seeing hands that even one line off will throw the whole hand out. It also helps to understand how the hand is working geometrically and where all the pieces are in space… and there’s lots of foreshortening!

In conclusion:

I’ve spent a long time on this section because I love people and emotions. As an actor I try to inhabit people… and when I see people I make up characters and narratives.

So, I think I might like to draw people… or at least moments between people.

And if I want to do that I need to understand how bodies work!




Reflection: concepts of modern art – From Fauvism to Postmodernism. Edited by Nikos Stangos: Third edition 1994

This book has transformed the way I think about art.

That said, even though I have a BA in Hermeneutics I only understood about a third to half of it. The language was very dense. However, I ploughed through as I was getting a great backdrop and context for understanding art… even if I couldn’t answer many questions on the details of the different ‘isms’!

There seems to be three kinds of ‘art’.

In art it seems to me you either make (1) a high value commodity (traditional oil painting); (2) a political/social argument (modernism and postmodernism); or (3) a mixture of the two… most of the ‘isms’ from 1900 to the 1950’s.

But art criticism seems to change rapidly (even over ten years) which makes the criticism itself an historical record… primary evidence of contemporary views about art. But even so I think you can make some big distinctions.

Commodity art: 

Is high value property owned by a single person (and can be bought and sold)… it is unique (unlike craft items which may have an equal degree of skill but are mass produced)… involves a high degree of skill… is high value… produced by a known individual… and traditionally in Western culture is owned by the white, heterosexual male who are economically and educationally privileged.

Even today, a bottom end professional oil painting would start at around £2000, which would preclude most people having one in the living room!

Success is judged in financial terms.


Is art as polemic – which at times can seem little different from graphic design used to further an argument.

It can deconstruct (modernism) the present system by exposing stereotyping and the power structure… art used to challenge meaning and the conventions of meaning… or it can deconstruct and build (as in postmodernism) by forming notions of sexuality, nationality, environmental, ethnic and/or gender.

It is not owned as such and is not property (it is an idea)… it can be mass-produced in videos, on the internet, and in magazines… created collectively… and if it is ‘owned’ [maybe by being consumed?] it is owned by everybody… it is a mass product.

It doesn’t have to involve any traditional art skill – such as a copper rod sunk into the ground or my thoughts at a certain time of day. The ‘art’ is the idea and its value is its effectiveness. As such art is opened up to non artists.

It has no monetary value as a unique object.

It exposes conventions which have been internalized and are taken as real, and by making them explicit challenges the status quo and seeks to replace it.

Success is judged in how effective the idea is.

Modern art (or the art of ‘isms’)

Here – in simple terms – it seems art (hacked from its job as visual recorder by the invention of photography) was finding new ways of investing itself with value and purpose. And it did so by attaching theories, of art and life, to painting. The modern world in Futurism… or the true nature of seeing in Impressionism.

These were often supported by a dense manifesto and pushed by powerful artists with groups around them… but the groupings weren’t stable and broke up. The ‘ism’ fading and the next one taking its place.


So, it seems to me we have two extremes.

Art as unique object judged financially in a cash market… like a footballer or an opera singer – highly skilled and in very short supply; and art as a mass ‘object’ judged by its political/social effectiveness in raising awareness, like a political idea.

But a lot of art strides both camps… early religious paintings promote Christianity and are full of symbolism but they are also valuable objects. Perhaps because the means of production meant they were produced as unique objects, and the skill of the artist made them into valuable items in spite of the ideological restrictions.

How many multi million pound church paintings are produced now?

As an artist this raises the question of what do you want to do in your art practice? How ideologically driven are you going to be? How financially driven? Are you going to work for a ’cause’… or work for the market? Or a bit of both?

Art cannot be neutral… choices have to be made.

It might come down to a definition of terms but I don’t think art is the idea. I think art is the unique object (produced with skill by an individual) and mass produced images supporting an idea are political.






Part 4: Project 4: Skeleton

The introduction for this project asks me to look and draw images of skeletons… so I thought I’d start by copying the human skeleton for ‘Anatomy for Artists – A complete guide to the human body’ by Barrington Barber.

Front, back and side…

The first one’s not very good and looks like a copy of a skeleton from a book, but a weird and wonderful thing happened with the back and side.

They look like people!!!!!

I know they are skeletons but when I look at them I don’t see bones I ‘see’ a living person.



This was a good exercise as it made me realise just how much flesh we are… how big the hands and feet… and how small the rib cage and head… how long the neck.

After my first skeleton it all made intuitive sense… I wasn’t thinking just copying.

I’ve been doing two pages a day of the Barrington book for months and have nearly finished – I read the page and then sketch the drawings on top with pencil.

Before I did this exercise I knew logically that the skeleton and the body (flesh/skin/muscles) we see are connected but it didn’t mean anything.

Now, I can feel it.

I know that’s an odd way to talk about an anatomical exercise but this isn’t an academic, I could write it an exam kind of  understanding, it’s an emotional understanding.

This course is seriously changing the way I look at art and the world around me… it’s also now changing the way I think and understand things!!!

Part 4: Project 3: Ex 4: Energy

This was a great exercise… nice to work on A3… and great to use bold ‘flowing’ drawing medium.

And lovely to work quickly, focussing on capturing movement rather than ‘shape’.

A different concept which I can carry back to all my drawing, as unless somebody is still (sitting, sleeping etc) they are in motion. Even if apparently ‘still’ they have a tension in their body which makes a photograph (apart from it being 2D from a single point of view) look frozen as against looking at a real person in the flesh.

What I wanted to do was play the video feeling the movement… then when I froze the frame draw the ‘movement/energy’ rather than the ‘body. So I was drawing something totally different to a life drawing still life.

Setting this up was a challenge.

As I wanted to draw from movement, not a photograph with no context, I decided to find videos of dancing. This way I could watch the movement till I froze the frame and then keep that movement in my head.

This, however caused a few problems:

(1) Dancers on ‘shows’ weren’t connected… when you looked they were dancing side by side – not together. Although the movements were choreographed to work as a single unit the people had no connection.

I wanted to draw a dance where people were connected, as in real life. The dancers on the variety type shows were basically moving poses. And ballet was too far removed from natural movement.

(2) I tried to find amateur videos of couples, or groups of people, dancing – clubs, bars, streets… I found some but they were so badly lit and framed they were unusable.

(3) I then stumbled across some dances in films – here the characters WERE connected, and properly lit and framed… but most were head and head and shoulder shots… after having a good luck round I found Pulp Fiction.

This was a proper dance with great connection – and at least half the clip was as a full two body shot.

Next I had to choose drawing medium:

I picked five:

Compressed charcoal, wood charcoal, Artists pen, diluted black acrylic and ink and brush.

Compressed charcoal – A3 – 5 minutes


I’m really pleased with this it captures the movement. I didn’t think while I was doing this, or measure… I just opened myself up and drew.

It wanted to dance on the page in line… almost like a trumpet… then sound out a note which is the hard black shading.

I finished in about two minutes!!!!

Then had to spend the other three minutes ‘improving’ it.

Compressed charcoal – A3 – 5 minutes


This is possibly my favourite.

They’re having fun… they’re connected… you can see them moving.

Wood charcoal – A3 – 5 minutes


Funny how different this was to compressed charcoal – and the lines grayer.

It’s more fluid.

And it wanted me to work in tone… but I started to get distracted by shape when I was drawing her. However, I managed to escape back into the movement and I’m really pleased with him.

He looks like he’s moving

Wood charcoal – A3 – 5 minutes


Better – I like this too.

Not the best drawing but I have a sense of them dancing together… her swinging her arm… him doing his thing!

Art pen – thick brush – A3 – 5 minutes


I was a bit scared of this as I’ve never used it.

Again, this works well. Though he’s more connected to her than she is to him.

I tried some extra lines to suggest movement which I thought might look silly but make it look more like he’s moving.

Art pen – thick brush – A3 – 5 minutes



It looks a bit something from a comic book.

I got her shape all wrong and had to black her out but it still works.

They are dancing together and it’s full of energy and movement.

Art pen – thick brush – A3 – 5 minutes


Again, this works…

I can see the arms moving in.

It’s different as it’s mainly the arms and I did play about with the frame I froze to find a good composition.

Diluted black acrylic – watercolour brush size 8 – A3 – 5 minutes



Another new experience for me.

Just on the level of skill using the drawing medium I need to practice this.

It’s really interesting as it’s quite grey and you can build up darkness with washes.

I think it’s got lots of potential as a drawing medium… though building up washes might be more of a painting technique.

In fairness not a total failure… but I’ll put it down to experience!

Diluted black acrylic – watercolour brush size 8 – A3 – 5 minutes


Having learnt a little from my first go I knew I had to work on this in washes.

Surprisingly, it’s starting to work.

No movement but this has lots of energy. And a sort of power I don’t really understand.

I like it….

(When I was doing it I was feeling quite bad about it – that it wasn’t working… it’s only on reflection seeing what I’ve got that it’s worked despite what I thought. Maybe a lesson there?!)

Black ink – watercolour brush size 2 – A3 – 5 minutes


This is fun.

And works, I like the way they’re relating – and the hinted movement.

This was quite similar to the diluted acrylic to use in how it went on the paper, though I’d tried a smaller brush.

But totally different in that it went on hard black. No washes here!!

You’ve got to get it right first time.

It’s funny how the black focusses the energy.

Just in compositional terms I like that his head is white and hers black


People aren’t vases… life drawing is wonderful in honing your skills (or putting them in from nothing!) in drawing what you see.

But I think I’m finding I like character and movement – connections and thoughts – and am looking forward to when I have some basic skills and can start drawing real people.

I don’t mean copying a photograph… I mean constructed like a film… or a Hopper painting…

Brilliant exercise!!!!!!



Part 4: Project 3: Exercise 3: Stance

These are all in A4 with the same supporting medium (my sketch book: heavy weight… 170 gsm- for pencil, pen and ink, and water-colour) but with different drawing medium.

From Croquis Cafe: a dancer who was frozen in 12 poses.

A few things spring to mind…

(1) The technique’s of relating all the different parts to each other and using negative spaces really helped with these as there was a lot of foreshortening.

(2) The centre of gravity was not the same as the lines of energy from the last exercise – which was very interesting. Eye lines can be energy, as can energy held in part of the body like an arm or finger, or a limb reaching out from the body… the centre of gravity is what takes the weight.

It’s a sort of deadening pulling force quite at odds with the energy of the person.

(3) There was only one pose where the dancer took his weight equally on both legs… most of the time one of the legs took most of the weight which funnelled the line of gravity down through the spine, across the pelvis and into the leading leg.

(4) Different mediums make you draw (and even see!) in different ways. You find you’re drawing a different kind of picture when you change the drawing medium.

(5) The dynamics between stance and energy are very interesting.

My favourite is five (with the red conte crayon) as it looks like he’s just arrived in this pose and and is already moving into the next pose… it doesn’t look ‘frozen’.

Generally the more ‘line’ the more frozen it looks… though I loved the dip pen and think this has lots of potential. Though it is unforgiving as you’ve basically got to get the shape right first time. I was surprised at how effective the hatching was.

I wonder how effective mixing say ink pen and pastel would be???? A sort of hybrid between shape and tone/movement.

Anyway, here we go:

4B pencil


Fine artist’s pen


Willow charcoal


Compressed charcoal


Refd conte


Children’s wax crayon with fine art pen correction


Art pen


Graphite stick with fine art pen correction




Metallic colouring pencil


Dip pen, black ink, fine nib








Assignment 3: Response to formative feedback. (Written notes of video tutorial).

Feedback on project work, sketchbooks development leading to assignment

(1) Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity.

When I’m drawing I like two things… solving technical problems in how to observe and draw better (to see, understand and reproduce what’s in front if me – a lot of my annotations are about this) and to engage with what I’m drawing… (which is also, I discovered, helped by on site notes)… that can be by forgetting myself or an emotional attachment.

For me it was interesting to hear from Doris that my most finished drawings were from the sketchbook walk. These were done on site over several hours (a couple of hours for each sketch) and without – in a conscious sense – thinking about what I was doing. It’s like I was having an unself-conscious conversation with the paper fully engaged in the moment. Looking and drawing.

She compares the garden picture to a Lucien Freud etching of his garden… a little!


Lucien Freud, The Painter’s Garden, 63.5 x 88.6 cm, 2004


My Garden, 2017, A4

There’s a lot less detail on mine but it has a similar feel.

So, I’ll take that!

She also said a couple of the drawings from the sketchbook walk should come out of the sketchbook, which had never occurred to me. This made me think how they then become stand alone pieces. And the energy and life that needs to go into a stand alone piece is no different to work in the sketchbook… you just take it farther. Rather than thinking of it as a stand alone work, as a completely different thing, and risking it being stiff and still-born!

And that they didn’t need upscaling. It hadn’t occurred to me that a sketch so small could be complete or have value.

This lead to a discussion of how to translate that freedom to a stand alone piece. I think it’s a bit like acting… you do all the preparatory work and when the director says ‘action’ you totally relax and switch yourself off, you listen to the moment and react.

In contrast when I’ve thought of a finished piece of art it becomes something I’m trying to make as good as I can from the outside. Like a test… and it stiffens up. I’m focussing more on what people will think about my drawing than on what I’m drawing.

Which is the total opposite to professional acting and the opposite to my sketchbook work.

So anything… notes… objects… from the real world I can take with me to help me connect are useful… as is the actors imagination putting myself in a scene.

Assignment development:

Doris liked and thought my initial sketches were promising. She commented on my double page spread with annotations and said this could become a format in its own right, drawing attention to Dick Whall’s Return Exhibition.


Apart from the level of complexity (both of the drawing and the notes – mine being much simpler) and both drawings using notes there are some fundamental differences.

His drawing is much more architectural and finished with most of the notes bounded round the edge. He finishes the bushes and the two men whereas I have no finished drawing.

But the fundamental difference is intent. Reading a comment underneath his drawing I’m struck that this is about using drawing as a means of coming to terms with his death – it is religious as well as academic covering botanic, art historical, literary, archeological and a zest for life. It is erudite and poignant.

Mine is a practical process working composition (both meaning and visual) on the paper… a sort of external version of what was going on in my head.

Bot are unities is as far as my comments are not observations after but part of a process that involved language and drawing. His picture is a unity too… but I suspect his was composed and controlled whereas mine was frantic and exciting!

She then comments on my charcoal sketch:



… saying she enjoyed the energy, that the drawing unified architectural features with organic foliage and abstract patterns on the river. The tension between the military architecture and the unruly boats making the composition challenging and interesting… which is good, as that’s what I was planning.

And says there’s a far-fetched connection with Jeff Wall’s photographic retake of “A sudden gust of wind” which I might be able to see.


It’s a feel… maybe it’s the connection of the unruly array of boats in my picture with the unruly paper fluttering out of control in the wind. And the men in suits standing for the order of the colleges. Both in a natural scene.

Dorothy then comments on our chat about the final piece. And the problems of translating the freedom and looseness of the preparatory drawings to the finished piece. She picked up on the building which I struggled with – pastel is not a good medium for military precision and straight lines. In retrospect I should have used mixed media – black ink lines loosely filled with pastel. But at the time it didn’t occur to me as I was still locked into this being a finished piece in pastel.

The result is the college is stiff and wooden.

I had more fun with the bushes and she says these a reasonably translated. The hedges and trees were technically difficult and I discovered the most effective way as I went along. The difference is I have a connection with trees having been brought up in the country and didn’t lose interest.

The most effective and inventive part of the drawing was the handling of the water surface and boats. Here I had a total ball – and basically danced on the paper (not literally, with the pastels!). I didn’t feel confined by any limits and used the pastels in different ways and made marks intuitively. As an actor I love character so doing the people was a joy.

Doris said the two parts of the drawing don’t integrate and I agree.

This is partly because I’d made a mental divide between collages and town. And feel much freer in the town… this psychological/emotional state affected my drawing. A bit like acting – how you feel and think – consciously and subconsciously – affects your voice and posture… and it must be the same for art.

Whereas when I did the charcoal I didn’t approach them as two separate areas but as one.

She points me in the direction of John Piper’s prints of buildings and landscapes, specifically the, “… marvelous lithography of the Dordogne”.

Besse, Dordogne 1968 by John Piper 1903-1992

John PiperBesse, Dordogne     1968

I love his work and prints – thank you Doris!!!

This is a screen print – I don’t know anything about printing but am saving up for a course as I like the images they produce… so I don’t know how it was produced. But it’s bold, organic, loose, characterful… yet has weight and shape and form. It’s imposing and strong and the drawing works as a whole in its natural environment.

It’s brilliant!!!!!

Research/Learning Blog:

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Doris likes that this section is full of critical enquiry – assessment of artists with reasons – and that I engage with art works through comparison.

I find this almost as useful as the drawing… assessing my own and other people’s work honestly helps me to realise what I’ve learnt and apply it. I often don’t realise what I’ve done until I analyse it… it helps me to see mistakes and strengths, and things I might be able to use.

This then puts me in a different position to start the next work. So it’s like a continual evolutionary process.

She likes that I’m reading an art primer on early 20th Century art.

I love it and it’s giving me a sense of what art is – and it’s possibilities – in a wider society/world context. Art is almost a thing… a sea… full of corals and fish, sharks and turtles… pollution and drag nets.

Suddenly to become aware of this is wonderful – and is already radically changing the way I look at the world around me (and I now see ‘art’ in the strangest places… and all around me) and how I view art in a gallery.

It’s different to the acquiring of skills, like drawing what’s in front of you in a life class… but will, ultimately, inform my art and help me find a voice.

Suggested reading/viewing


The recommendation here was Ruskin’s Elements of Drawing Volume 15 which I downloaded as a PDF and skipped through the drawing section.

Very interesting… what I got from a brief look was the importance of the shape… that he recommends an outline even if none exists in ‘real’ life  (though I would think that depends on the context of your drawing)… how you can break a tree down just as you would a body…

Sketch the trunk, branches, leaves… and then put it all back together. Understand how a ‘tree’ works.

And that every tree and every leaf is an individual. You can’t just draw generic leaves to order, it will look dead. Which (in as far as you can’t study every single leaf on a tree or indeed that a drawing in not necessarily a copy like a photograph). That the ideal is to draw several leaves on and off branches and then be aware that each is living and individual as you draw – and this will inform your practice.

Pointers for the next assignment

To work in series and extend the course… and think of the final drawing as an extension of the preparatory work not separate from it – as I did with the last exercise!

In acting you do all your prep then when the director says action you turn off yourself and time stops. You are in the moment. It is not a performance or a test… you’re not aware of anything… it’s more akin to being somebody else outside the restrictions of your own personality.

It’s real.

But is based on all the work you’ve done to that point building the character, understanding where he is in his day/life… how he comes to that scene.

Never ever is it a judgement. It is living.

So too, with my final pieces I need to do enough work so that I live the drawing and am not thinking of it as a test to see if I can pass this module.

I think that’s a very important point.

Timed drawings were also suggested.

I think it depends on the purpose but I’m certainly going to mix in timed drawings to my practice as they focus the mind and capture different qualities.

She also suggests longer poses in context (and mentions Emil Bonnard – who is one of my favourite artists!!!!)… it helps gets the foreshortening right and also says something about the sitters personality. (Depending how posed it is!)…

Finally Doris says that longer poses would give me a good chance to use pastels – I think that’s what she means by continuity of learning – and suggests I buy pre-coloured Ingres paper A1 size.

I hadn’t thought of this but it might be a good idea for my final piece?

Cost of materials is an issue so I’d have to be well prepped as I bet A1 shaded pastel paper costs a bob or two!!!!

Great feedback and very useful.









Part 4: Project 3: Exercise 2: Essential elements

All these are A4 in my sketchbook – the paper is smoother than my drawing paper (with less bite, consequently the pencils look grayer). I’d, sort of, thought all paper was roughly the same… but charcoal and pencil work radically differently on this than my loose drawing paper. So the supporting medium is nearly as important as the drawing medium because it affects the tone, colour and characteristics of the drawing medium.

Driving on a motorway is totally different from driving on a country road – and drawing on different supporting mediums can be equally different!

The exercise asked for shape and tone without detail.

I went beyond this… focusing on shape and relating the different elements – then sketching in the darkest tones. But then I went on adding tones till they (almost) became detail. So, I did the exercise and then added to it.

It was a great learning experience and I definitely got much better at capturing the shape, and really enjoyed adding the tone to sculpt 3D.

Anyway, starting with the first, here are my six drawings:







Before I answer the questions I’d like to make two comments.

(1) My favourite is the grey fine art pen with hatching. There’s just something very appealing about the medium. I can’t quite workout why, but I love the effect it has.

It’s not the best sketch (in terms of accuracy) but it is the one that ‘affects’ me most.

(2) Technically, what I’m most pleased about with these is that they look sold, grounded, like he’s got weight and mass.

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

Yes… proportion is a funny thing. It changes depending on the position/pose of your subject.

So, you need to draw what you see, which is all about finding where the weight is and the lines of energy go. Where the negative shapes are and how the different parts of the body relate to each other in space.

It’s not about a shape… and then giving it weight. They come together – it’s difficult to explain but in my head there’s a weight to the limbs as I draw them… feel the flesh hanging. It’s almost tactile.

And, luckily, I think this translates in my sketches. At least where I’ve had time to develop both beyond a quick sketch.

Which drawing gives the best sense of pose and why?

The final byro drawing of the seated man.

Partly because the proportions and foreshortening are right. So there’s nothing to distract me from the pose. The grey Graphik pen drawing is a good pose but the far hand is too small and it looks like the model is wearing glasses!

In the byro drawing I can ‘feel’ him sitting there before I think of him as a structure, I go straight to his face, not his body. Just as I would do in real life.

If his posture was wrong I’d be searching the body to find the fault.

I trust my intuitive sense of the real… nothing odd strikes me about this – I accept it.

Therefore it’s a good posture.

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

Yes, in two of them.

In the first he’s raising his arms and taking his energy up, out of his body in anticipation; in the fourth there’s a lighting hard stab of energy down his arm and out of his finger, focused it pins the viewer.

I didn’t think of it while I was drawing.

So, I didn’t identify it as a gesture away from the central axis.

However, I feel I’ve put it in the drawing.

Weakly, in the first one. Partly because it’s a weak gesture and he’s merely holding his arms in a position… he’s not a dancer (or actor) taking the meaning up through the gesture to something else. There’s no intent or energy.

Which, in a sense, I’ve captured as the arms are just held. However – although it’s partly skill (I’m only just beginning) had I been aware of it as a gesture [instead of being totally fixed on drawing what I saw] I could have emotionally imagined the situation. Put myself into it (I’m an actor) then used that emotion to draw the pose.

The pointing finger is much stronger. I think because you immediately focus on the finger (the threat) and react to it. And strangely all the energy seems to be in the arm. The body, though accurate, seems neutral.

What this has taught me, when drawing people, in anything other than a mechanical sense. Is to emotionally get inside them and paint the feeling and energy rather than just the form.