I had a breakthrough in figure drawing class, our last one, a couple of days ago. We were doing gesture drawings at the beginning of class, as always. I've become fairly pleased with how mine are starting to look. When I first started class, they were pretty unskillful and I would come home feeling disappointed and frustrated. I would watch Tommy draw his and could see how he got there, but I couldn't begin to draw something that pleased me aesthetically the way his did. I didn't like my line. Eventually, gradually, they began to develop, and I stopped feeling quite so constantly frustrated by them. Here are some from 2 weeks ago. Certainly you can tell what position the woman was in. I don't think they're gorgeous, but they're not bad.
That same week, a few later, I decided to draw larger to see how that felt. I wanted to stop restricting my movement, thinking that if I gave myself more space, I'd move more freely and the lines might get juicier. This is the result of that. I like it much better.
This past Wed, I was working on getting into the groove again, still drawing a bit small. I first draw with a large piece of willow or vine charcoal to get the basic form of the figure, then I go back and draw contour lines around the figure. In these I particularly liked the articulation of her calf in the one of the left and of her right elbow and shoulder (our left) on the figure on the right. As I was drawing one of these, I overheard Tommy suggest to the student behind me that she draw the figure as if it's all one continuous piece of wire and she's sculpting it. I know I'd heard him say that before, but this time it stuck and the picture below was the immediate result:
To me, these have a completely different feeling. They might not be quite as accurate proportionally, but then again, perhaps they are. One thing I know they are is more vital feeling to me. I love the lines. They remind me of some drawings I've seen by Matisse. I don't mean to give myself an overabundance of praise - it's just that I like the lightness of line and the looseness I was able to achieve. It's a huge breakthrough for me since before these I always felt so verklemmt, tight, rule-bound. With these I finally found some joy and pleasure in exploring her image.
|new method next to old|
The next one I did, I tried the same method. She was sitting in a more complicated pose. I started to get lost and unsure of myself so I drew it again using the method I'd used before. Even though the new style looks a bit bizarre, I prefer it. It simply has more vitality, in my opinion. For the next two images, I decided to work on the whole page. These made me happy. I so enjoyed running the very sharp charcoal pencil point across the page, imagining myself actually touching the contours of her body as I went. And I love the looseness and lightness of the image! THIS is what I've been trying to do all these years since I first learned to do gesture drawings. Now I can't wait to go to figure drawing tonight to practice some more!
|Figure Drawing by Matisse|
When we started working on the first 30 minute pose, I began it the same way - full page, large, light touch with the pencil. The image was more complicated since she was holding a guitar. I notice it came out almost life size and left out her legs completely. I was trying to figure out what to do next but couldn't decide so I flipped the page and started over in the manner to which I am accustomed. That result is the more realistic looking image above. I'm thankful I'm finally starting to get some skill so I can represent the models with some accuracy realistically. I have a long way to go for them to look good, but at least they don't look quite as gallywampus as they did at first. BUT what I notice is that I like the first one I did better. It's more interesting, more full of life.
For the next long pose, Tommy suggested I start loose again but this time push it a little bit and see where it goes, be willing to "ruin" a gesture drawing I like just to see what's on the other side. Good advice. I drew the gesture drawing light and loose with some distortions (unintended). Tommy came over then and suggested I try to draw the way Sargeant did - stand back from the canvas to get some distance, look at the model carefully, then approach the canvas and place the mark in exactly the right place. I was yearning for color, feeling like I could approach it much better with color, but having just white and black conte crayons along with vine charcoal and charcoal pencils restricted my choices and helped me learn all I could from what I had. I tried to be mindful of each stroke and to place it carefully and exactly.
I am very aware that her face looks weird, but it doesn't bother me. I kind of like it, in fact. And I like the overall piece. It keeps me looking and more intrigued than does the above realistic one with the guitar. I wrote about the experience of drawing this one on my blog from 8/24/12.
I'm excited to have found a different way of approaching the models and my drawings of them. I feel like I pushed through some fairly substantial resistance and came out the other side. Tonight I'm going to Figure Drawing Session and will bring my pastels and some good paper so I can play with yet another way of approaching the drawings. Experimentation is the life blood of art. I'm becoming more and more grateful for this time away from pressure when I can take chances and can learn more about materials, methods, and myself.