Thank you to my mother for once again offering
(involuntarily) to be my model for this exercise. I ended up doing two drawings
instead of the intended one as I wanted to experiment further with a different
medium after finishing the pencil and wash piece and produced the oil pastel
piece above as well. I employed the time tested artists method of holding a
pencil at arm’s length to judge the right measurements and learned a valuable
lesson – always ensure you’re using the same pencil for this.
The Longer Pose
Pencil and Wash
Have you managed to make a complete statement in this time? What
were your main problems?
In the majority of my drawings there is a compete statement
but I have to admit not necessarily a totally accurate one.
I find that the main problem that I am encountering is with
the details of the face and hands. Working with larger mediums like pastels of
thick charcoal this is not so noticeable; there is less room for details so
fewer marks. However I really struggle when using finer utensils such as pencil
or ink pen to record the details of faces and hands smoothly and succinctly. I
know his is all down to a matter of practicing it so practice it I shall do.
How well have you captured the characteristics of the pose?
When I stayed focused and concentrated on each mark that I
made the character of the pose definitely came through much stronger and
produced a more satisfying drawing. However sometimes I would get bogged down
in certain areas and loose some of that individual personality.
Do the proportions look right? If not, how will you try to
Surprisingly I think the proportions of my figures are
generally quite good, at times the faces and hands are a bit off as mentioned
before, so I shall practice to hopefully improve in the future. Otherwise I don’t
think they are at all that bad I found that using objects in the background to
relate to really helped to get the scale right.
Now onto the fourth part of my drawing course and it is time
for some figure drawing, a subject that always seems to be very hit and miss
with me. I know I can produce some very good figure drawings but at the same
time I’m prone to some awful ones too, shall just have to see how it goes.
Producing these quick drawings in a few minutes was quite
refreshing after spending hours on the same drawing of a tree and such like. Although
it was challenging to capture the character of the subjects in such a short
time, sometimes it started to come through surprisingly quickly with just a few
well chosen lines.
I visited this exhibition quite a while ago, and blogging
about it has been a task long overdue for completion. So I thought just before
I began my project on figure drawing would be an excellent time for finally
First of all I have to say that this was my first trip to
the Courtauld Gallery, the Picasso exhibition may no longer be running but it
is an excellent place anyway and with their new Gauguin exhibition I shall
definitely be returning very soon.
The exhibition was, in a word, brilliant! As
pretentious as it sounds, you can really see the beginnings of one of the twentieth
century’s greatest artists in this collection of the nineteen year old
- Dwarf Dancer & Bibi-la-Puree -
I found it really interesting how different each one of
these paintings were, Picasso’s constant experimentation shines through with so
many pieces in close proximity to compare against each other. Influences from
Degas, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec seem to appear as artistic ideas mutated to
Picasso’s own will.
The first room is a perturbing group of grotesques; dwarves
and clowns glare at you, violently out of focus (‘Bibi-la-Purée’
and ‘Dwarf Dancer’). ‘Seen through the bottom of an absinthe bottle’ is an apt
description from the exhibitions curator. The pieces have that bad sickly taste
of too much alcohol and yet they are morbidly fascinating studies.
- Child with a Dove & Harlequin and Companion -
Escaping into the second and final room Picasso’s work has
transformed, hitting you with intensity like sunlight, piercing the absinthe
hangover from the first room. This intensity, much like sunlight and hangovers,
starts to mellow and cool as you head towards Picasso’s famed blue period,
there’s more emotion but less rush. The mania turns towards the melancholy.
- Casagemas in his Coffin -
His self portrait ‘Yo – Picasso’ (I- Picasso) doesn’t just
grab your attention it smacks your round the face until its sure your paying
full attention, There is undeniably something cocksure about the frenzied brushstrokes
and the orange eruption of his cravat. He confidently stares out at you and
surveys his work as if to challenge any doubts of genius, he says ‘I did all
this, I - Picasso.’
First off I have to say that this assignment was hard, or
more specifically finding the right view to work from was the hard part. I
needed a view from a window or doorway that included natural objects (i.e.
plants, trees etc) had a sense of depth to demonstrate some perspective as well
as some straight-lined objects. I found looking out of any window covered a
couple of these criteria but they all seemed a bit, well, bland. So when I finally
found this view I knew that this was the one I was going to work from, it had a
linear perspective in the buildings and some trees in the foreground and the
church gave an interesting background.
So, having found my chosen view I set about playing around
with the composition and decided on a portrait format that I felt showed the
depth of the drawing well. I then experimented with the perspective of the
buildings to ensure that I had it all right. After this I decided to eliminate
one of the background buildings and I am glad I did this as it helps the church
to be more dominant in the background.
I experimented with a watercolour and pen drawing that I decided
not to pursue, it did not feel like the right media for the piece; I wanted to
work with something that showed off the setting better. After a bit more
exploration I decided I really liked the way chalk and graphite worked against each
other, especially on the coloured paper as a mid-tone. The media manages to
capture something of the feel of the place quite well.
I ended up spending a couple of hours creating the final
piece and I am really satisfied with the result. My only concerns are that I may
have lost some of the depth in the final drawing and that I should have
explored some more choices of media that may have showed certain elements off
Experimenting with Composition
Biro on Paper
Pencil Sketch (left) and Working out Perspective (right)
Watercolour and Pen Piece (left) and Charcoal Sketch of the Same Tree (right)
First try with Chalk and Graphite on Coloured Paper
I am definitely no expert on trees but I’ve definitely had a
go at drawing quite a few different types, oak, elm and birches at least.
What techniques did you use to distinguish each type?
I was not really focusing on analyzing the type of tree I was
drawing but more on the individual tree itself and the way it had adapted to its
own environment. To achieve this I concentrated on its own particular characteristics
i.e. the shape and direction of its branches and sometimes detailing some of
the leaves, this acts like a fingerprint to identify the type of tree it is.
What did you do to convey the mass of foliage?
Once I had plotted out the basic shape of the tree and all
its elements, I would identify how the branches interact with the foliage, how
bits clumped together and the direction they went in. I did a bit of
experimentation but I found that being loose with the detail works best, just
enough to give an impression of the foliage. I think this works best because
when viewing a tree you do not register all the leaves and twigs individually,
you tend to think of it as one united object.
I used very simple marks in the fine liner drawing of the
birches, slightly messy marks because the foliage seemed to scribble its way
around the trees.
How did you handle the light on the trees? Was it
In the individual tree drawings once I had described enough of
the rough details, I shaded with the intention of seeing the entire tree as one
object. This allowed me to keep similar levels of light and dark continuing
through the entire drawing, so the darkest points stayed as the darkest points
without getting lost. I also attempted to capture the way the light shone
through the clumps of foliage in places, almost glittering amongst the greenery,
by concentrating on the details.
In the group of trees I produced in ink there is a much starker
contrast because of the media, although less subtle this did allow me to maintain
a consistent level easily. In the fine-liner drawing of the birches, the second
colour of the green sort of acted as a mid-tone in places.
Did you manage to select and simplify? Look at your drawings
and make notes on how you did this, and what could you do better?
After finishing this project I can conclude that knowing
what to select and what to simplify is really quite tricky, include too much
and it will make for an uncomfortable drawing, too little and the piece will
seem unfinished, wanting more.
In the study of the oak tree and the elm tree in the second
exercise I think I did this quite successfully, I spent a lot of time picking
out the important details to include and eliminating those elements that seemed
less important. In the group studies I think I may have simplified possibly too
much in places, though I am very happy with the texture the ink was able to
Overall I think I have done quite well in this project I am
pleased with the results and I have definitely enjoyed working through it.
Trees are still one of my favourite subjects and I shall no doubt return to
them in the not too distant future.