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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Thanked 70 Times in 50 Posts

    Some questions on life drawing..

    Hi, i have been attending life drawing classes for a year. Usually we draw from 30sec gestures to 15-20min poses. However most of the time i couldn't finish drawing the figure.
    I think the problem for me is that i draw out every bumps/skin overlapping that is showing through the skin of the model.
    So the question is, should i just simpilfy the details,bumps that i see on the model?
    I study bridgeman for anatomy which he simplified for us to learn but when i read the book "old master drawings" by hale i think they showed drawings of figures with bumps and such.
    Ive read somewhere in CA that when drawing figure i should actually draw and understand what is underneath/what causes those bumps..i tried to do that, observing and understanding but then it slowed me down in drawing...
    Do i just look at the pose of the model and use my anatomy knowledge that i learn from bridgeman to draw?

    Thank you!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Thanked 17 Times in 6 Posts
    I see my own early struggles in what you are going through at this point.

    You have to look at your efforts in learning how to draw as an overall process that will last your lifetime. What you are concerned with today in terms of what you are focusing on might not be what you focus on in five years. The important thing about drawing is learning how to see, and then translating what you see to a flat piece of paper by the types of marks you make that represents the subject to you. There are as many approaches as there individuals, and much of that will be dictated by your own personality.

    To give you a personal example, because I think our initial experiences are similiar. When I first started I was very very slow - meticulously drawing every muscle, line, nuance of shading that I saw. I know one of my instructors kept on - not to put, "so much detail in the shadows because it will visually break up the form". He always said to, "simplify the subject because there was only so much time in a 10 minute pose". I couldn't take that advice to heart because in realization I had this deep seated need to see and understand all I could about muscles and anatomy. If it took the entire 15 minutes of a pose to draw a hand and part of an arm - so be it.

    I spent years drawing like this. What does it matter? What are your goals and what are you trying to accomplish? For me, it was all about understanding what was going on with the model's anatomy. I will say that by painstakingly drawing everything, I've developed a strong techinque in being able to depict line and shading. I would go as far as saying that this might never have taken place if I was always frantically trying to do the entire figure in whatever duration the pose was in. You can get stuck in a certain complacency as well if all you do is focus on one thing, especially if you never have time to notice the details.

    I did comment to the same instructor after a few years that I was worried that I never finished a figure drawing under thirty minutes. His comment at that point was reassuring: saying not to worry - "that in time you will draw faster and faster". A few more years after that he was proved right. I do draw much faster, and with a much stronger assurance after having built on a solid foundation of technique and observational skills.

    However, drawing is 95% mental and I've come to the realization that I need to let go of the details sometimes and draw the big picture quickly - get the movement and gesture down because that too is a different level of understanding of how the body works and the anatomy functions.

    I think the best approach in retrospect is to balance the two extremes by altering between slow and careful observation, and the other faster grand overall gesture of movement and simplified forms. Both compliment each other - as is present in any solid work of drawing. Both are essential skills to have.

    So what if you are indulging in your own need to draw details. These drawings only have to be for yourself at this point. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn on thousands of half finished drawings as long as they are done with the best you have, with 100% focus and concentration. Revel in the fact that you are a detail freak and accept that about yourself. Don't let others dissuade you from drawing in a way that makes sense to you now. However, do listen and consider that their approach to finishing a figure is right as well - within its own objectives.

    Last edited by Mike from Toronto; February 18th, 2009 at 02:03 PM.

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  5. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Thanked 70 Times in 50 Posts
    Thank you for your advice Mike

  6. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Outside Toronto
    Thanked 349 Times in 125 Posts
    Is there an instructor for these classes?

    There isn't much point to actual classes if there's no direction to the course. An instructor explaining the process and goal for each drawing series of gestures or longer studies would make this considerably easier for you.

    Failing that, Nicolaides's The Natural Way to Draw would give you a starting point where you could match up the pose-time with the exercises to give you some sort of plan to follow. That being said, much of Nicolaides's language is needlessly obtuse and so several of his exercises are open to multiple interpretations.

    Other than that, do try to embrace and internalize the idea that you should always be working from the general to the specific. Those surface "bumps" should be that last thing you're thinking about in any drawing less than an hour. Use the time for exploring the gesture and form accurately.


  7. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Thanked 16 Times in 11 Posts
    To me its a lot like painting, when we did guestures I wasn't allowed to lift the pencil from the paper, I don't know about you guys. But take what you learn doing gestures and apply it to the poses, you block out a basic shape, like you are cutting a statue from a piece of marble, then refine, but don't over do it, for one you can learn all the anatomy you want on your free time, it isn't about that. it's about utilizing you speed, and the minds ability to portray an image to a piece of paper and break down an image. Once you refine don't go crazy on the detail, what people don't think about when they do gestures and 20 minute figure drawings is that art is a lot like an illusion, you only have to draw so much before your mind starts to fill in the blanks.

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