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Changing Perspective in Figure Drawing

Our model this week at Studio b.‘s regular weekly figure drawing session stood on a ladder during the warm-up drawings and the shorter warm-up poses, and she also posed up on a table.  Usually our model is on a short platform or even on the floor, so this change in perspective was a rare treat.  I enjoyed the challenge of drawing from a lower vantage point.  Every shape was different from how we normally see our model.  To add to the challenge, we positioned a floodlight to light her from below.

The model brought a hat, a mask, and a necklace to give us some accents.

I used some different media to loosen up from the intense figure drawing workshop Heather Clements taught last Saturday at Studio b.  I had not sketched since Saturday, and I felt like I had really tightened up, hence my decision to use less familiar media, to force myself to “let go”.  Interesztingly, I think my most successful piece of the evening was one of these looser pieces, using water-soluble Aquarelle pencil on hot press watercolor paper, the study of the model wearing the mask, above left.  It is small, only 4½” x 6″.

I throw away almost all of my warm-up drawings.  Colleen Duffley, owner of Studio b., suggested saving more gestures, explaining to me that some people have more appreciation for anonymous gestures than for finished drawings of a model they don’t know.  This poses a dilemma.  I do so many warm-up drawings, or gestures, that I always use an inferior grade of paper, for the sake of economy.  Newsprint and manilla paper costs just pennies, as opposed to good paper which can run from $1.65 to $3.50 per sheet, and upwards.  So the few times that a warm-up drawing turns out to be a keeper, its value is compromised because of the poor quality of paper.  It can be redrawn on archival paper, but that is a challenging task because the immediacy of expression, the passion, will be difficult to recreate.  So I decided to bring a tablet of 18 x 24 Canson Cream that I had bought a good 6 months ago, and I did all of my warm-up drawings on good paper.  I missed the rough texture, or “tooth” of the manilla and gray bogus papers I usually warm up on — the tablet of good paper is very smooth.

Below left is one of my warm-up drawings, a 5 minute pose, and the other two are longer poses on Stonehenge and Rives.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

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Figure Drawing with Confidence

When I was first learning to draw, as a child, I remember making a myriad of feathery lines to indicate an edge.  Sometimes I still catch myself doing that.  But my drawings are more successful when I draw single, confident lines, whether they are “right” or not.  After all, that’s part of the beauty of present day art — our culture allows and even encourages the artist to be expressive without worrying so much about technical accuracy.  Of course it is nice to have both, but if you have to sacrifice one, I think it is better to sacrifice accuracy in favor of confident expression.

But that is not to say that one should not strive for accuracy and technical merit.  Our model at Studio b. this week was very fit, a specimen, actually, perfect for studying developed musculature.  But none of our poses were long enough to do justice to basic anatomy, so I attempted to describe her muscular development by drawing the outer contours.  The lines are not perfect;  even an untrained eye can see that there are exaggerations and out-and-out “wrong” lines.

In the moment though, in the rush of the 25-minute pose, every line feels perfect, every line is drawn with confidence, the muse shouting at the top of her voice.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot