Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More fun with facial planes

After making copies of the structural drawings of the face in the Russian Academy book Fundamentals of Drawing (see last post) I went in search of a photograph to copy, since that is another step in the series of exercises we have been doing as we study each part of the body.

It is surprisingly hard to find good photos that show the planes of the face. Once you start looking, you realize that portrait photos in commercial publications are invariably softened. I recalled seeing an impressive photo closeup of Vladimir Putin's face in The New Yorker, and located the issue. This amazing photo appears on page 94 of the December 19 & 26 issue of 2011, as part of a photo essay by the photographer Platon.

I was intrigued at Platon's use of the camera's tendency to distort closeups of the face, making the nose look larger, the rest of the face look longer and narrower, which he further enhanced with the black background. Spooky! Given this treatment, Mr. Putin looks like a feral rodent. The planes of the face, however, can be discerned, so I decided to copy this photograph. I used graphite on paper.

I seem to have got carried away with the big nose, it's even bigger in my drawing. I did what I could to delineate the facial planes, even though they are a bit washed out in the original photo.  Most of all, I was fascinated with the facial expression, very hard to capture, of deadpan, um, deadness. A very instructive exercise. Hats off to photographer Platon.

Moving on to a character with a bit more personality, I did my "life" study (another step in our series of exercises) of the head on one of the skeletons at the UAA drawing studio. These are charcoal pencil and white pastel pencil on toned paper.

So who is the spookiest? Putin or the skull?

Next post, at least one master copy of a charming lady, nowhere near as scary.

Friday, April 12, 2013

More on Drawing the Figure, Anatomy

Among the books our drawing group has found useful is Fundamentals of Drawing from the Russian Academy of Arts.

Russian academic figure drawing emphasizes the planes of the body, beautifully illustrated in this book. In order to work on drawing the head and features, I made a copy of the drawing on cover.

Below is my copy, along with one last torso (a copy from a photograph I found online.)

The copy of the planes of the face was much more difficult than I anticipated!

The Russian book also provides some small examples of master work to copy.

My structural drawing of the planes of the eye , also copied from the Russian book, is at the top of the page. The two lower drawings are master copies. Above this page you see the photo reference for the eye on the bottom left. 

I still have plenty to learn. This is all harder than it looks!

Unfortunately, the examples aren't labeled. I haven't been able to figure out whose eyes are on the right, but the one on the left is from Antonella da Messina's painting, Il Condottiere. Would you have guessed the face would be so tough from just looking at the eye?

If anyone can figure out who is on the right, please let me know! I looked at hundreds of images online. You would be amazed how few figures in Renaissance (or thereabouts) paintings gaze to the viewer's right.

I recommend these exercises. I have had a lot of fun with them, and I am learning plenty. I will show more in my next post.

In the meantime, here is a page of figure studies from the live model. Pencil drawings, I believe these were 10 minute poses.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Way Things Work

Here is the commission I mentioned in my last post.  My patron provided the props, each has a personal significance. There are a few messages in the arrangement, you might be able to find some of them.

The Way Things Work
Oil on linen panel
12" x 16"


Monday, April 8, 2013

What I've been up to since November, Part 1

Yes, it has been a while! I have been working on a commission, I will post about that in a bit.

In the meantime, here are photos from another project. The Art Student Association of the University of Alaska hosts figure drawing sessions on weekends. Recently they added anatomy study sessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings. We do 12 hours of drawing a week, wonderful!

We pick a part of the body, study it anatomically and structurally, and follow up with master drawings, drawings from photographs, drawings from memory, and drawings from live models. It is good to get together with people who are as enthusiastic about drawing as I am, and as interested in improving figure drawing skills. We share a lot of reference material and tips. Below are some of my drawings, copies, and references .

 Classic Human Anatomy, The Artist's Guide to Form, Function, and Movement by Valerie L Winslow, is very useful for its clear diagrams and text.  Some pages I worked from:

Below are my drawings. If you want to learn something, you can't go wrong by making a drawing.

On the page above, I also copied a drawing by the French 18th -19th century artist Jacques-Louis David.

Arnold Schwartzenegger's The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding is a bodybuilding classic. I use it for the photographs. Bodybuilders don't look like the rest of us, but the muscles are easy to see. On this page: my copy of a photograph of the young Arnold's back.  Below that is my copy of a drawing by French 18th c artist Joseph-Marie Vien.  You can see how copying different references makes sense, if one's goal is to depict the figure well.

 Below are some recent drawings from live models. Compared to earlier efforts, my drawings are coming through with more energy and accuracy. I look forward to more improvement.

I'm also having fun experimenting with different mediums. The above drawing is  group of quick pen and ink sketches. The one below, from a longer pose, is conte pencil.

More on all this in the next post.