I started figure drawing classes again two weeks ago. These sketches from the first class were done with a big Chinese brush and ink and we had to make as few marks as possible. It was only to be black and white calligraphy lines and marks. I was a bit overwhelmed by all that dark ink and don’t think I grasped it completely,  but it was an interesting exercise and it at least got me loose in as much that I couldn’t fiddle – calligraphy doesn’t allow for fiddling and I was forced to go with  continues lines. I also found that the big brush loaded with all that ink had me go even bigger on the paper, so much so that I cut off the model every time…either the feet or the head had to be sacrificed. And we already worked on very large format, 46 x 55 cm (18  x 21″).  These sketches took about 5 minutes each.




Last week we had a professional artist for our instructor and I loved every minute of it! He is quite a character, as interesting as can be and I would love to paint him! He walked around and looked at our work and he repeatedly named the things we needed to keep in mind, to look at, the whole time…And because he had such a lovely nature, it was almost like background music, not disturbing at all. I even dreamt of it that night. And it did sink in. This model was a bit fuller than the normal, but she had “beaucoup de caractére“, strong personality and  presence. She was positioned in great light and did simple, yet elegant poses.

Things I’ve learnt last week:

  • Compare, compare, compare! A line/shape should always be placed on the paper in relation to another line/shape. Compare the horizontals, the diagonals, the verticals all the time.
  • Always start with the biggest and most simple shapes first.
  • Keep it simple, see shapes and forget about details until the last minute.
  • Decide beforehand what it is that is striking in a particular pose and concentrate on capturing that…the light, or the emotion, or the expression or a gesture.
  • Don’t be afraid of mistakes!!
  • Don’t concentrate on making a beautiful drawing!!
  • Draw what you see, not what you think you should see.
  • Enjoy the process.




28 thoughts on “Figure drawings

  1. I love the bold lines of the ink drawings. You did a great job. Thanks for sharing the lessons also – if only we could always have your instructor whispering those pieces of advice into our ear!

  2. Hi Ronell;

    Your drawings are exquisite! I really like the ones done with Chinese ink! They do look sort of like oriental art. That’s a really different approach then I have ever seen.



  3. What lovely, elegant lines you made. Simple and beautiful. And the list of things you learned is great advice. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Visiting your blog is like going to an exquisite drawing class! I can just hear this wonderful teacher… lucky you! and thanks for sharing his great comments. I love them all but especially the pen and ink ones.

  5. Merci beaucoup mon cher for the tips! All things we should know but too often forget! Of course compare, compare, compare!!! These are fabulous! What fun to try the ink!!! I have some, might try it at the next figure session next month!

  6. I really like the bold figure sketches. They have plenty of character. And, I also like the fact that not the whole “figure” is included. It creates such interesting perspective.

    It must be a fascinating class session with that art teacher 🙂

  7. You learned more in a week of figure drawing than I did in the full 8 weeks that I took such a class years ago. The lesson about concentrating on the big shapes first is such a good one, isn’t it? Someone should paste that one on a sticky note to my forehead. Anyway, those ink drawings are so elegant and pleasing to look at, and you did such a great job getting the feeling of volume with such a few lines.

  8. What a liberating exercise this must have been, Ronell.

    Your brush sketches are wonderful. The beauty of line, with it’s wonderful variation of pressure on the brush, in figure 3 is a poem. I love the second one as well.

    I hope we are going to see more of these!

  9. Oh beautiful, Ronell. What a great exercise it is to have to draw with a brush one can’t ‘fiddle’ with as you say. You kept it very pure. Your drawings have beaucoup de caractère!!
    And i can’t agree more with “draw what you see, not what you think you should see” — that’s the key.

  10. The ink drawings really grab me. They look like they were effortless to paint……… beautiful. I loved reading what you learned in the classes. I’ll print them out and keep them with my other … things to remember! Beautiful work, I’m looking forward to seeing more of them.

  11. I really like the ones done with a brush, your lines are nice. And I think that last thing learned is the most important – enjoy the process. When I was learning to quilt, the instructor put her hands on my shoulders and said “breath”. It’s the same with drawing, just do it and enjoy it. And breath of course.

  12. Lovely drawings….. particularly like the sinuous lines in the second Chinese brush sketch of the model in repose. I have such a reverence for the human form for both its beauty and the challenge it presents to the artist. Also, great list of advice you’ve passed on – thanks!

  13. Wow, these are great, you have captured the mood. I especially like your legs and feet, great job. Thanks for sharing, these are great tips for doing life drawing this month!

  14. I’m going to go back to the local life-drawing group next week after reading this and seeing your lovely sketches – and also print out your teachers ‘chants’ – what an excellent lesson.

  15. Wonderful drawings…the last few especially fabulous. I loved the list of points to remember. Compare! is especially important as relationships seem to be the key in painting (and in life, eh?)

  16. The ink drawings are lovely. Such bold line. It’s like having only 5 minutes makes you really reach for the important details. Beautiful work.

    It was great timing coming to your list of things you’ve learned. I’ve been having a bad stretch of drawing this week. I needed to be reminded to now worry about making a beautiful drawing and to enjoy the process. I’m copying this list into my sketchbook as soon as I press submit.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

Tthank you for your visit and comment, II appreciate it!

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