Monday, December 22, 2014

Figure drawings, 2013 to 2014

We draw live models, sometimes, in class. These are some of my gesture drawings from 2013:

Not particularly impressive! Very tentative. Reminder: gesture drawings are quick drawings anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes, a good way to warmup before more detailed drawings.

Now here are some gesture drawings from 2014:

This was really fun: our model was a dancer, and I enjoyed trying to capture the
movement of the dance poses. The time limit of only a few minutes actually made this way more fun - and easier, in a strange way - than if I'd had all the time in the world to draw them.

A little bit better, right? I think so.
What changed? Confidence, and practice throughout the year (those two things being somewhat correlated). In the first set of drawings, I had no idea how I wanted to go about drawing a human being. And I learned a great deal, in the following year, about what makes a good drawing. So when I approached figure drawing this year, I had a much better idea of what I wanted my drawings to be, and how to make them happen.

From casual practice and study, I figured out what I liked about drawing people, and what I wanted to focus on (emotions, lines, personality, form). I also figured out what I didn't know, the areas in which I could use more practice and study to better achieve what I wanted (certain aspects of people in profile, wider variety of movement, details of clothing, hand gestures, this list goes on forever). With some increase in drawing technique, I learned how I could make my drawings a bit more interesting (hello line variances, stronger contrasts, etc.), which lead to me feeling more engaged with my drawings and a bit more confident in my abilities. All of this led to me feeling pretty determined and eager when I approached figure drawing again.

Artistic progression: some sort of weird alchemy of time, action, knowledge, and motivation. Or so it seems, sometimes. I don't know. Feedback, observation and instruction from others has been essential, but so have those hours drawing alone at 12:30am and not worrying about any of those things.

Those stick figure drawings may not look very impressive, but I know they were an important stepping stone. I remember looking at my stick figures, and then looking at the gesture drawings of my much more experienced classmate. Hers were vibrant and detailed, full of body, full of life. I remember thinking "Wow, these can be beautiful. I have so much to learn here. I could re-imagine my entire approach to this."

Let's check out a portrait, from the same time period as those stick figures:

All black and white drawings in this post were done with charcoal, on sketch paper.

I think it's clear from this drawing that I felt much more comfortable drawing faces than drawing full figures. While many of my classmates were dismayed at having to do a portrait, I was excited! I love faces. I think they're always interesting to draw. Though my lack of experience still shows, I was very engaged with the subject, and I hope that shows, too.

Here's a portrait from later in the year:

We had a bowl of fruit and a model available, and I focused a little more on the bowl of fruit; I think because I felt a little stuck drawing the model! The fruit seemed easier. The model was knitting, which is impossible to tell from the drawing, but explains why her eyes appear closed and her hand looks a little strange. I do like the pineapple a lot!

Another drawing, this time in pastels, with the same model:

Again, I decided to make fruit the focus! I guess I liked her boots? Felt like drawing feet? I don't remember why I wanted to go this route. It does tend to be easier to focus in on one thing. And it is true that when it comes to drawing figures, I tend to neglect the feet! I think this was about the time I started to notice that, and try to correct it. So the boot makes sense: I was interested in learning how to draw shoes at the time.

Back to 2014:

More gesture drawing.

Introduction of a second model, and trying to capture a height difference.

I don't like this one all that much, but it got high praise in class! Another dance pose, with one model holding up the other, but I was at a tricky angle and picked the composition I felt was my best option: zooming in on the face and hand. It was still tricky.

Some pastel drawings:

I chose absurdly bright colors, because that's what I enjoy. I felt like I was just starting to get used to the charcoal, so I found the switch to pastels a little disorienting! But the colors are always kinda fun to work with.

I still have a lot to learn when it comes to drawing, but it's an enjoyable journey.