Thread: Doug Higgins on Frank Reilly

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1. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Doug Higgins on Frank Reilly

To see if there's any interest in what I might add, I'd like to start with two images. One is the six line figure that Frank Reilly used as a basis for understanding the drawing of the figure, and the other is a painting of mine that he asked me to frame and hang in the lobby of his school, "The Frank Reilly School of Art" as an example of student work. The standing back view was painted in his painting class some 50 years ago when I was in my teens or early twenties. If you are interested, we can discuss how the one led to the other...

2. Huh? I'm confused.

3. Registered User Level 3 Gladiator: Catervarii
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Always interested to hear about the Mr. Riley's teaching, especially from a former student that actually studied with him.

4. Doug, any insight you could give on the finer points of the Reilly Method would be great. It is something that is hard to learn from books alone. Things like the six lines and the head diagrams are particularly confusing when you don't see them put into action over a broad range of body types from beginning to end.

5. this would be fantastic, I am really keen to learn more about the Reilly method a lot of the available info is very confusing.

6. Originally Posted by dhiggins
To see if there's any interest in what I might add, I'd like to start with two images. ... If you are interested, we can discuss how the one led to the other...
oh yes! im really looking forward to this, feeling like beeing 5 again and christmas approaching.

7. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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The six line abstraction of the figure when committed to memory is especially useful for visualizing the figure under clothing. In the beginning of a nude figure drawing I'll draw an oval for the head, then determine (in a standing pose) the center of the figure and then where the feet are. Now the figure will have to be properly placed on the surface instead of starting at the top and running out of room at the bottom. The word Mr. Reilly most often used was "Relationship" in regard to drawing. So You might start at the head and using the six line figure which you have memorized, determine where the waist is, left or right, down to he knee (halfway down the leg) and on to the foot. Same for the other side. then perhaps the shoulders and the arms and their relationship to one another.
Last edited by dhiggins; November 26th, 2012 at 02:25 PM.

8. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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I would like to start over but am having trouble deleting what I started with.
Doug Higgins

9. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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OK starting over

The six line abstraction of the figure when committed to memory is especially useful for visualizing the figure under clothing. In the beginning of a nude figure drawing I'll draw an oval for the head, then determine (in a standing pose) the center of the figure and then where the feet are. Now the figure will have to be properly placed on the surface instead of starting at the top and running out of room at the bottom. The word Mr. Reilly most often used was "Relationship" in regard to drawing. So You might start at the head and using the six line figure which you have memorized, determine where the waist is, left or right, down to he knee (halfway down the leg) and on to the foot. Same for the other side. then perhaps the shoulders and the arms and their relationship to one another.
I can see that I'll have to do some quick sketches to illustrate the text such as the above...

10. Diamond Bullet Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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Great stuff Doug. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and offering your knowledge.

I'd love to get your thoughts on the concept of "station points" next, their purpose, and how they work in sketches and in finished works.

11. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Station points are seen on the six line abstraction. They occur where lines intersect or at known quantities. Some of the known quantities are the navel, the nipples of the breasts and the crest of the iliac. They converge with movement from static to action.

12. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Station points were another of the many ways that Mr. Reilly (that's what we all called him) had to govern placement/position of the relationships of the parts of the figure. When something doesn't look right about a drawing or a painting and is bothering you, this is one of many ways to check accuracy.

13. Doug this is really great stuff. I have about a bazillion questions.
Is this method good for a fully lit and rendered figure from imagination or memory. If so, can you use the six lines or station points to determine the light and shadow areas when making up a figure in a scene? Or did Mr Reilly expect people to maybe start from imagination and then flesh things out fully with models and or reference? I assume the painting in the first post is from life.

14. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by dpaint
Doug this is really great stuff. I have about a bazillion questions.
Is this method good for a fully lit and rendered figure from imagination or memory. If so, can you use the six lines or station points to determine the light and shadow areas when making up a figure in a scene? Or did Mr Reilly expect people to maybe start from imagination and then flesh things out fully with models and or reference? I assume the painting in the first post is from life.
We always drew and painted from live models with about 3/4 light (Artificial) and from slightly above the model. For light and shade we would refer to the model. The six line abstraction and station points are of little help for light and shade. The imagination used was visualizing the six line abstraction for relationships, placement and proportion. As the diagram shows the six line figure is helpful for generalized light and shade understanding.
Please ask as many questions as you like. That's what I'm doing here and I'll do my best to answer as close to what Mr. Reilly would say as possible.

15. some one needs to make a video or dvd of the fundamentals of the Frank Reilly method somthing like Gnomon Workshop dvd's.

16. im having quite a hard time yet understanding how this concept is applied to figures with depth. like twisted chest-pelvis, or 3/4 view figures.

and thanks so much for this!

17. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by sone_one
im having quite a hard time yet understanding how this concept is applied to figures with depth. like twisted chest-pelvis, or 3/4 view figures.

and thanks so much for this!
Any single concept will not provide answers for each instance. After understanding the content of a series of his lectures it seemed as if we were always provided with helpful ideas. We concentrated on concepts in a singular way but developed skills in the aggregate. It may seem confusing to see these diagrams flat on and then try to apply them to a 3/4 view but they can be turned in the mind with practice and it must be said that for each drawing and painting, relationships must be invented to fit the particular.

18. Hi Doug,
I have a copy of your book (which is great by the way)and on pages 64 and 65 you are talking about painting the figure. At one point you say 80% of form from values 20% from chroma but then you say paint the most amount of form using the least amount of value and chroma change could you clarify those two statements for me?

19. I just wanted to share this here...to make things easier: Doug Higgins Fine Art/The Frank Reilly School of Art book. I just ordered mine - and it's a bit cheaper than Amazon!

20. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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This is the way I meant to show these images. Starting to get the hang of this and thanks for bearing with me.

21. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by dpaint
Hi Doug,
I have a copy of your book (which is great by the way)and on pages 64 and 65 you are talking about painting the figure. At one point you say 80% of form from values 20% from chroma but then you say paint the most amount of form using the least amount of value and chroma change could you clarify those two statements for me?
There are essentially two ways chroma changes. One is a local change, the beard shadow on a man's face for instance, and the chroma change which creates form... edge planes. The edges of forms pick up whatever is in the background and they then tend toward neutral. This is not always seen but can be painted to increase the sense of form. "The least amount of value and chroma change" means to change values and chroma in a subtle way. For instance the value change from the model out in the light and the dark background is rapid whereas the gradual changes within the figure are more subtle.

22. Originally Posted by dhiggins
Any single concept will not provide answers for each instance. After understanding the content of a series of his lectures it seemed as if we were always provided with helpful ideas. We concentrated on concepts in a singular way but developed skills in the aggregate. It may seem confusing to see these diagrams flat on and then try to apply them to a 3/4 view but they can be turned in the mind with practice and it must be said that for each drawing and painting, relationships must be invented to fit the particular.
Hi Doug - we really appreciate your contribution here. I would like to follow up on sone_one's question just to see if my interpretation is in the ballpark. When it comes to the twisted, foreshortened figure in deeper space, I imagine the six line abstraction simply has to be thought of in a more volumetric, foreshortened manner? The flow and definition of the abstraction still occurs but wraps accordingly around the forms and general mass of the figure?

23. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by JeffX99
Hi Doug - we really appreciate your contribution here. I would like to follow up on sone_one's question just to see if my interpretation is in the ballpark. When it comes to the twisted, foreshortened figure in deeper space, I imagine the six line abstraction simply has to be thought of in a more volumetric, foreshortened manner? The flow and definition of the abstraction still occurs but wraps accordingly around the forms and general mass of the figure?
The six line figure or abstraction is memorized and when you can draw it in a variety of positions, is useful for position, placement and proportion. Looking at the model is rather complex and the abstraction is a way to simplify and find relationships. In a twisted or foreshortened pose the complexities increase but the procedure is the same... largest relationships first using a large, light, uncommitted line and then on to smaller connections, drawn or imagined, and then darker more accurate committed lines or mass areas (shadows). I might mention here a useful tip for foreshortening and that's the overlapping line. Were you to draw two spheres one in front of the other, the one in front would overlap the one behind. This may be used for the figure whether it is seen or not. Also perspective comes into play with foreshortening. Above are two examples, one shows in an exaggerated way the perspective and how the centers change the walking legs show how the shapes in front overlap the shapes behind...

24. Doug,

Thanks for answering my questions so far. This is jumping around a bit from the previous topic so I apologize. When it comes to composition I know Reilly studied with Cornwell and it seems he is influenced by Cornwell in his style of painting for illustrations. Any info on Reilly/Cornwell approaches to picture making? I am especially interested in intent/ decision making processes for composition and drama.

25. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by dpaint
Doug,

Thanks for answering my questions so far. This is jumping around a bit from the previous topic so I apologize. When it comes to composition I know Reilly studied with Cornwell and it seems he is influenced by Cornwell in his style of painting for illustrations. Any info on Reilly/Cornwell approaches to picture making? I am especially interested in intent/ decision making processes for composition and drama.
My understanding is that Mr. Reilly (I still think of him as Mr.) assisted Dean Cornwell with his murals and eventually created one of his own for the Bronx High School of Science 63 feet wide. Just as cornwell worked with Brangwyn in England. Mr. Reilly's drawing technique and illustrations were heavily influenced by Cornwell but he never explained the influence specifically. Mr. Reilly taught picture making or composition with the use of a large amount of ever increasing and complex balanced abstractions. I wrote a book on this subject as taught by him that can be found somewhere on my website. In the years I was with him he only mentioned Cornwell a few times and you could tell how much respect he had for him. He had an arrangement with the State of New York for a fire poster. The winning student poster would be printed and used for a year by the state. The ideas or drama were were up to us to create. He probably had a lecture on drama but he had so may lecture subjects I never heard them all and then he passed away.

26. Doug,

Thanks for the info.

27. Doug,

About your painting at the beginning of this thread, could you talk about using edges as a composition tool. While the edges in your painting seem completely natural, I believe you are designing them, losing some and sharpening others for focus? I know Reilly talks about the big blur and lost and found edges. Any rules of thumb as to their effective use when painting?

28. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by dpaint
Doug,

About your painting at the beginning of this thread, could you talk about using edges as a composition tool. While the edges in your painting seem completely natural, I believe you are designing them, losing some and sharpening others for focus? I know Reilly talks about the big blur and lost and found edges. Any rules of thumb as to their effective use when painting?
A rule of thumb is... anything round will have a softer edge and harder edges occur where a bone nears the surface. An elbow for instance. The reason for soft edges on a portion of the figure that is round is that we are binocular, two eyes, and one sees slightly farther around than the other softening the edge. There is also, hard to see, a blur, no edge at all, near the right hand on the model stand. Mr. Reilly wanted us to always find big blurs in our figure paintings.

Thank you for the question. If any of my answers don't explain an answer fully please let me know. My job here is to clear up confusion not cause it.

29. dhiggins Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by dpaint
Doug,

About your painting at the beginning of this thread, could you talk about using edges as a composition tool. While the edges in your painting seem completely natural, I believe you are designing them, losing some and sharpening others for focus? I know Reilly talks about the big blur and lost and found edges. Any rules of thumb as to their effective use when painting?
Further explanation regarding edges... yes, the edges are designed. The effect (Mr. Reilly's word) or focus, center of interest, which is that portion of the figure where the painter would like to direct the viewer's eye, is the largest, lightest area of the figure, usually the area out in the light that is closest to the light. In the case of the standing nude, it is the large light shape in the center of the figure that I was using as the effect. Sharp edges are attractive to the eye so edges near the focus may be sharper as an aid to directing the eye. The hard edge next to the shadow from her right hand is a case in point. Another attraction is value contrast which is also present here. These design elements may be subtle but they have the value of showing the artist how to paint other edges in the figure to lessen their attraction.

30. Just chiming in to say how much I appreciate this information, Doug. I've studied with a few of Reilly's students and grand-students and read articles and blog posts from a few others, and I've always learned something new and interesting from each. Please keep it coming!

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