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Life drawing 2 - John C. Kirk

Feb. 27th, 2015

04:42 am - Life drawing 2

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Last month I tried out life drawing for the first time. I enjoyed it, so a couple of weeks ago (14th Feb) I went back for another go. Read on for more of my scribblings... I've made an effort to draw some of the musculature this time, rather than just the outer edge of each body part.

We had a different model this time: an older man rather than a younger woman. (I'm being deliberately vague, partly because I don't want to insult either of them by guessing their age incorrectly!) The model used a few props to assist with his poses; I'm not sure whether they were his own or available to all models. I also noticed that he was a lot more assertive than the previous model, e.g. he said "Go!" at the start of each pose (telling us to start drawing) rather than the organiser. Apparently they've been working together for 10-15 years, so that would probably explain it.

Pose 1 (5 mins)



Since I arrived on time for this session, I got 4 x 5 minute sessions rather than just 2. Like last time, I started out with a quick "thumbnail" sketch of each pose before I did a more detailed version.

Pose 1 thumbnail Pose 1

I think this is definitely better than my first drawing from the previous session. It's not as good as my final drawing, although I wouldn't really expect a 5 minute pose to be as good as a 90 minute pose. I'm satisfied if I can at least keep in practice and get up to speed quickly.

Pose 2 (5 mins)



This was the first pose which involved a prop (a wooden pole):

Pose 2 thumbnail Pose 2

The most obvious problem here is that I have the lines for his arms and the pole overlapping each other, so the pole should be hidden behind his arms; in a longer pose, I would have erased those extra lines (or maybe avoided drawing them in the first place).

Pose 3 (5 mins)



This also involved a prop. The model tied one end of the rope around a door handle, then tugged against it.

Pose 3 thumbnail Pose 3

Pose 4 (5 mins)



Another rope pose here, but the model emphasised in advance that he could only sustain this for 5 minutes and he let go as soon as the timer bleeped.

Pose 4 thumbnail Pose 4

I think this is the thumbnail which came out best. I remember watching a documentary a while ago about some new building in Dubai; the architect said that in order to be "iconic" you should be able to draw a recognisable picture of the building with only three lines. That's pretty easy with something like the Eiffel Tower, so I can see his point. In this case, there's very little detail and none of the lines even connect but it seems to work. That's a fluke, but I'll see whether I can achieve a similar effect on purpose in the future!

As for the more detailed picture, the bit hanging down between the model's legs is his scrotum rather than his penis.

Pose 5 (10 mins)



According to the model, this pose was supposed to represent "hope in despair". I'm not sure that my art really conveys the emotion he was hoping for.

Pose 5 thumbnail Pose 5

By contrast to pose 4, I don't think this thumbnail really works at all. It might have some appeal as an abstract shape, but it certainly doesn't do the job of instantly conveying what's going on. Maybe I would have been better simply drawing a square? On the other hand, I think the more detailed version came out reasonably well.

Pose 6 (10 mins)



Pose 6 thumbnail Pose 6

This is another case where the thumbnail didn't really work. As I understand the theory of gesture drawings, it should be possible to draw a single line which represents the character's pose, but that doesn't really seem to work in extremes like this, where the person is either curled up into a ball or spread out as far as they can go in each direction.

Pose 7 (10 mins)



Pose 7 thumbnail Pose 7

I don't have much to say about this one. I think that it's clear at a glance what's going on, but the details don't really work (e.g. his hands and nose).

Pose 8 (10 mins)



Pose 8 thumbnail Pose 8

The model described this pose as "Cupid's arrow"; the organiser commented that it looked more like a longbow, which amused me. Cute little baby with wings and a dainty bow and arrow? No, no, that's no good... Big guy with a longbow, impaling people from a great distance: that's the stuff of romance!

The model didn't actually have a bow and arrow; instead, he used the same long wooden staff as before (almost as tall as he was) and a short metal rod. Looking at the detailed drawing, I realise that his left hand looks more like a foot because the fingers are so short. However, that's because his fingers were actually curled around the staff and so I could only see just past the knuckles. Similarly, his thumb was hooked over the metal rod to keep it in position.

Pose 9 (1½ hours)



The model sat down in a chair for this, holding the staff in front of him. He commented that it was bound to wobble a bit, so the people sitting opposite would just have to live with that. That included me, since I was in a different position to the previous session.

This pose was actually divided into 4 sections of 15-20 minutes each, with a couple of minutes pause between each section for the model to move around. As with the previous session, I found that this is more time than I need. My artwork certainly isn't perfect, but I reach a certain point where a given drawing is as good as it's going to get. I think other people in the group found the same thing; the guy next to me started drawing the rest of the group (i.e. the other artists), and a few people left early during one of the short breaks. Again, like my first session, I decided to have multiple attempts at drawing the same pose.

Here's the thumbnail and my first attempt:

Pose 9 thumbnail Pose 9a

Looking at the face in particular, it doesn't really work. I think I'd basically chopped it in half with the pole down the middle, rather than the pole obscuring part of the face. So, I then had a go at just drawing the face on its own:

Pose 9b

That gave me an idea of what should be missing, so I then tried the full body again:

Pose 9c

This still didn't look right, particularly from the shoulders upwards. Looking at his right arm, there's a foreshortening effect so it's correct for the proximal section (shoulder to elbow) to appear smaller than the distal section (elbow to wrist). Similarly, looking at his left arm, there was a curve/bulge for his shoulder (I assume) which was distinct from his chest. The lines between his jaw and his right arm also looked right when I compared the drawing to what I saw, i.e. that was folds of skin around his neck.

However, as a whole it still didn't work. At the risk of making excuses, this may be partly a side-effect of him moving around: I could draw each body part in the correct position at the time I see it, but then the combination would still be out. Also, I don't think the staff really helped here. As I understand it, the whole point of life drawing (i.e. the nudity) is that you can see what a body looks like without clothing getting in the way. So, putting a big pole in the way instead seems a bit counter-productive. On the other hand, this is partly due to where I sat. If I'd been in the same position as last week (up at the far end of the room) then I would have had a clear view of most of his body with the pole in front of him (to my left) so it wouldn't have been much of a problem at all.

Another issue here is that I have to choose how much extra detail to put in. So far, I'd included the model and his props, but I hadn't drawn the room he was in (e.g. the floor or walls). In this particular pose, I hadn't drawn the chair either, but I included that in my final attempt. After I got home and scanned everything in, I finished this picture off digitally (cleaning up stray lines and adding colour).

Pose 9d Pose 9e

I think that the chair definitely helped, because it gave me a way to "anchor" parts of my drawing. Also, it makes it more obvious that he isn't pole-dancing and that he doesn't have a broken wrist! (The purple thing is a bundle of cloth, presumably because that was more comfortable than resting his arm on cold metal.) Looking back at January, I included the sofa that the other model was sitting/lying on, so I think that's the way to go in any future drawings.

Comparing this to the other drawings from the final pose, I think the overall proportions are better here. The perspective on the chair is a bit wonky, although the bit that looks worst (the left rear leg) actually matched what I saw: it really was further over to my left by his ankle than it was above the seat. Looking at other chairs in the room, the legs were (deliberately) bent, so maybe that diagonal section was obscured from my view.

I'm quite happy with how the hands and feet came out in this, particularly since I've cheated in some of my previous drawings by just drawing spheres instead of hands. In particular, I like the little curve on the side of his right foot, showing the bone.

The model said that he's been to other sessions where everyone lays out their drawings on the floor at the end, then you can compare them (e.g. to see the different angles). That sounds like a good idea, but the organiser said that people have got used to not doing that, so I assume it won't happen in Croydon.

The next session is tomorrow (Sat 28th). They don't announce models in advance, so I'll be interested to see who we get this time.