Friday, 21 February 2014

Tips for successful life drawing (part two)

Getting away with it – I typically find that great life drawing has elements that have not even been drawn and/or have been purposefully omitted. When drawing a model from life I personally strive to capture only enough to allow the mind of the viewer to fill in the blanks and complete the illusion. It is not always an easy balance to strike and I certainly have a tendency to over-define my subject if I am not thinking clearly! I find that this method works particularly well in and around areas of highlight where the details are commonly blown out by the intensity of light. As long as the relationships to the surrounding areas of tone are correct, then areas with little or no visible information tend to take care of themselves in the overall composition. I have previously talked of finding efficiencies and this is the perfect example of it. This approach is akin to a great story – not everything is explained and some things are left open to interpretation. Therefore, when drawing I strongly advocate leaving the viewer space to use their imagination. ‘Less is more’ as my old college tutor would say.

Above: 'Figure 16' 60min study by Rhys Eggleton. See more life drawings here

Above: 'Figure 17' 15min warm-up sketch by Rhys Eggleton. See more life drawings here

Seeing Red – for quickly observing how subtle areas of tone relate and interconnect, I occasionally look at the model or subject through a red filter. Doing so basically strips away the distraction of colour, so that the tonal values can be accurately assessed. Also, this is a really good way to ‘pull back’ and see the broader shapes within the subject if I feel that my drawing is stalling or if I am losing my way with small details. This is similar to the well known technique of squinting to simplify the perception of masses, but has the distinct advantage of better clarity. I previously purchased a filter designed for a standard 35mm SLR camera from a popular online auction service. It only cost me a few pounds and its compact size makes it ideal for the task:

Be bold – and by this I do not mean reckless (although recklessness can sometimes produce intense results so I don't want to outright discourage it!). In my experience I have found that preciousness inevitably leads to a stale lifeless drawing, which although technically proficient can be uninspiring to behold. This can be really discouraging if you have invested considerable time in its production. Take chances with the flow of lines and try above all else to translate the visual rhythm of the models contours into the flow of the drawing hand. It is a good thing to get as loose as the mood takes you, so long as you are mindful of the relationships of all the elements that make up the character of the sitters body. This point really boils down to capturing the 'essence' of the model - something almost intangible that comes alive in our human perception and in my opinion eclipses absolute accuracy.