Thursday, January 15, 2009

Life Drawing - Not in the Groove

Figure drawing again this evening. Neither Oldest nor I felt like we were in the groove tonight. And our drawings reflected that. I'm going to show them to you regardless, I decided - whether I like them or not. I've heard that life drawing does this - sometimes it falls into place, other times it's a struggle and it almost seems like a waste of time. But it isn't.

All drawings here are 18 by 24 inches (typical big newsprint pad size - or pastel paper for the longer poses).

The first photo, above, is of two five minute poses. The right hand drawing isn't bad. The second photo is a ten minute pose, and it shows another change from our first session, last week. Our model this evening was completely different. She had beautifully defined bones beneath well proportioned limbs and torso. She was an ideal model - but I always find it more challenging to draw thin women, the same way I find it more challenging to draw men. There are so many straight lines and nuances of light around the sternum, ribs, and clavicles. I'm getting better with knees and elbows, but I still have trouble with the bones of the torso. I'm looking forward to getting better with practice.

So it was difficult, but absolutely fascinating, to draw her pelvis, which was so well defined. A number of the poses were ideal for me to attempt that, like this ten minute pose, and probably my best drawing of the session. I'm also more comfortable with the red chalks, not the black or gray. I remember finding that out at college - that I felt so much more in touch with the drawing when I switched colors.

The first long pose led me to try smudging, which I have never been good at. Looking at the drawings this evening it was probably a mistake on my part. The results are better when I just apply the pastel and leave it, except to blur sections for depth, to reduce contrast, or to make corrections. I'm not at all happy with the face of this drawing, and I didn't get the top of her breast correct, either. I hadn't gotten everything else lined up right, and it distorted the top when I got back around to there.

But the section of the pose that struck me the most, the area around her hand, turned out fairly well for a short drawing. She had long hands, and she placed them with grace. This was the most enjoyable part of the pose to draw, and it shows in the drawing, as well. That's the only place I think I played - the rest was more like work. That's one way to describe being in or out of "the zone" when I draw.

The last pose was tough for me in many ways. I only had this green paper, which was not appropriate. I switched to blue pastel (which I've never used for a figure before) and I was still smudging. Some aspects of this are OK - but I still had the hardest time with all the subtle complexity, foreshortening, and proportions of the torso. Again, though, what I found fascinating about this model, and this pose, was the beautiful lines of her pelvis and her pubic bone. I'll be glad to have another opportunity to draw her - maybe when I'm more right brained.

And both sessions have one huge difference from when I was in college. Many of the poses strike me powerfully with the beauty of one area or one line or one gesture or proportion on the model. For instance, on the third photo from the top, the red ten minute pose, it's that long line down the right hand side - and that's why I placed the edge of the figure in the center of the page (I overdid it, though). I am, for the first time, seeing what turns these from sketches and drawings into works of art - the compelling gorgeous instance, the unique glorious beauty of an individual human being captured and emphasized by the drawing. I didn't used to even see them - now I sense them instantly, at the start of the pose. Now if I can get good enough to capture those moments... I think I could happily chase this the rest of my life. Even though the drawing was a struggle this evening, the two hours FLEW by. I was so sorry when it was over.

I can hardly wait to see who we get to draw next, and what is beautiful about their poses - but it will be several weeks, since I will be tied up with a conference and meetings out of town almost all of next week. Sessions run into the evenings, and I will get little or no art done next week until Friday.


L'Adelaide said...

hi steve, I think these are fabulous despite your grumblings...I see one or two bobbles here and there but, all in all, really well done, especially since you haven't done this in an age! they are a whole lot better than I could ever do!

what a beautiful body this one has and you do her justice.. the other one was much more rounded but this one gives us more a view of The Body...I am fascinated and jealous, not that I want to subject myself to that kind of torture again, haha! but such a challenge and high if it actually works from time to time!

that you are doing this with your son amazes me...I don't care how old my kids were, they would be mortified to be drawing a nude woman with their parent! my sons would rather be tortured, my daughter the same, so I am blown away you are doing this all with your son, who I don't think is much past 17-18 or so, although I may be mistaken? I am curious how old he is, he is very mature.

I give you an A with a gold star for your son ;)

Life As I Know It Now said...

it's not fair--my hubby, my son and my daughter are all gifted at drawing but me, no. I can draw stick figures I suppose. so to me you've done a great job. you do seem to have an eye for angles and plains and how things work together. you will get very good very fast I bet.

Steve Emery said...

Linda - Oh I agree, I suppose, about the grumbling and the bobbles... These could be a lot worse - but they're not what I wanted, and she was beautiful and I SO wanted to capture that - really capture it. I only came close. Next time...

Oldest will be 21 next month - so he has some reason to be this mature. And drawing nudes before this last year might have been tough not because of me, but just because the people are nude! I understand that - I recall the terror I felt when I saw that first model disrobing. I was 18.

Oldest will surpass every effort of mine - his talent is deep, his drawing skills are powerful and sensitive, and his imagination and vision for the world he wants to illustrate are bottomless. But who's comparing? And I'm as proud of his work as I am of my own - just from a different perspective. He's upstairs working on a 19 x 19 watercolor on my rig - the first he's painted since he was about 12. It's gorgeous. It will go in the portfolio unless he has a major accident with it here at the eleventh hour. And he's figured out the techniques he's using with little or no instruction from me except some basics on handling the pigments, keeping things clean and clear, and a little brush technique. And he is in love with the hot press paper, like I am, and for the same reasons. He has created a forest in the background, and he's carved the tree trunks out of the green gloom, the same way I often do. Such an amazing surface to work on.

Liberality - Nice Obamicon! I am sorry you can't get in on the fun. But I can relate - the math fun or the music fun in this house tend to leave me out... We can't all do everything, I guess. And thanks for the encouragement - I cretainly hope to get as good as I want. I'm just so excited that I can actually SEE what I want to do, now. I am GETTING it. Drawing it is another story, but as you say, that will come.

lisahgolden said...

I think they are all fascinating because you've created them from simply seeing something and translating that onto paper. Like Liberality, I didn't get the drawing gene like my brother did, so I'm amazed at this talent.

The blue one has such crisp lines, combined with the blue tint makes it very compelling.

Steve Emery said...

Lisa - Thanks. Oldest was commenting the other night that he's amazed that he just draws the bits and pieces he is looking at, one by one, and when he's done, lo, it's a figure. That's how the translation is done - it's a weird experience. Addictive, too.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could draw half as good on a good day! :-)
I love the close-up section/pose, and the sepia effect (if I am using incorrect terms, forgive my ignorace).
Beautiful work.