Thursday, 11 April 2013

Tips for successful life drawing (part one)

I figured it would be a worthwhile exercise for me to explain some of the self-devised approaches to life drawing that have evolved in my subconscious over the years. I am aware that there is a rich abundance of tuition freely available on the internet regarding drawing methods and it is not my intention to repeat what has already been said so concisely before. What I want to outline instead is some of the insights that have surfaced in my experience and that continue to work for me. I cannot say if these approaches are right or wrong, but they may be of some help: 

Above: 'Figure 11' by Rhys Eggleton. See more life drawings here

Triangulate – whenever I need to accurately place an element in a drawing without an obvious nearby reference point, I visualise the points of a triangle to help me confidently place it.  This basically involves staring at the model and picking out two clear points that have already been drawn. I then superimpose an imaginary triangle that connects these two points to a third, which is the element I intend to add. I focus on the angles and proportions of the triangle and then translate the observation to my drawing by lightly marking where the third point of the triangle would fall.

Pull back – sometimes if what I am attempting to render is complex I tell myself to ‘pull back’. In doing this my concern shifts from the daunting task of depicting intricate detail to capturing the gestalt (the overall wholeness) of the subject. It is a way of zooming out and simplifying what I am observing. I make a conscious effort to avoid slipping into ‘tunnel vision’ which can occur when fixating on a small area for too long. This can lead to a massive disparity of quality within a drawing because other areas are usually neglected of attention or rushed as time runs out.

Shorthand – with the pressure of a timed pose efficiencies need to be found in order to have a resolved drawing at the end of the session. I commonly shade small areas to their approximately tonal value and then lightly indicate the boundaries of these respective areas which I can revisit and complete after the model has finished posing. It is like leaving a visual shorthand note for myself whenever I discover an area that does not necessarily require strict observation. This frees up precious time for me to focus on the more essential elements that add gravity to the piece, such as; the gesture, the features etc.