Life drawing in pastel pencil

In the life drawing class a while ago, we had one long pose and used pastel pencils in black, white and sanguine. I’ve never used pastel pencils before. The closest I came to do something recognizable with pastels, is a little still life I did a few years ago. I dug it out to compare. It was done with soft pastel sticks.

…five a day…

I had a hard time with these pencils. They are harder than the sticks and I kept on coloring in instead of putting in mass. Or maybe it is all the sketching and ink line work I’m doing currently and very little painting. And I didn’t want to smudge the pastel, glazing it, smooth it over. I wanted texture and expressive strokes. But it seems I’ve left her out in the sun for too long…I loved the pose, so maybe I’ll redo this later and try and come up with something more painterly and eye pleasing. Any advice from the pastellists out there?

…fire, fire!…

 

Figure drawings

1. We started again with our figure classes last night. We had only one long pose and the goal was to make a “nice” drawing, with only pencil and hatching.

I used pencil 2B and 6B on large format paper, 42×59,4 cm (16,5×23,4″).

2. A previous class: This second drawing was extremely difficult, but it sure openend up the mind. The model would move forward into another position, while one “axe” remained in the previous position. It was sort of like motion drawing. Hard, hard, hard! I consumed a whole baguette when I got home after this class…

Graphite and sanguine on paper, large format

3. A previous class: The slim model with the dog that we’ve had on previous occasions and he lost even more weight, making it very hard to see something to draw.

Graphite on paper, large format

4. A portrait of the model and his dog. I did this when we had 5 minutes left of class. Graphite on paper, large format

5. This is the same model as the first pencil drawing, but on a different occasion where we did a draining million(well almost) quick sketches for two hours. And again I consumed a whole baguette afterwards..

Charcoal on paper, large format.

Figure drawings

In figure class, the model was late, so we started by sketching whatever was in view. I chose to do a classmate opposite me.

All drawings are in in charcoal and sanguine (except for this first one, only charcoal) on paper,190g/m², 42×59,4 cm (16,5×23,4″) All the poses are about 15 – 20 minutes long.

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Then the model showed up, with a huge black dog. With no inhibitions, he took off his clothes, dropped them in a bundle right there and then immediately swooned into this pose. Our goal was to work with foreshortening and use 2 or 3 mediums to push back dark shadows in order to give “life” and depth to a foreshortening pose. In this postion the model’s head couldn’t be seen by me and his right hand disappeared completely under his left leg(sticking out above the left foot) making it look as if is his foot is growing from his arm. I struggled with that portion of the body.

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In this second pose, it seems like his arms are miles long…he is a very tall, slender model with broad shoulders and I had difficulties keeping the relationships in balance. His head was in reality crunched lower between his knees, which I didn’t capture close enough to convey the “tightly crunched and taut” feeling of the body.

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I could’ve done so much more with this drawing. The body feels flat without the typical bigger ribcage of the male body in and the slim hips and I didn’t succeed in capturing the complete relaxed surrender of the model. My foreshortening could have been much more pronounced as well….I was too scared to really go for it. Pity… this was a great pose, very challenging.

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This was the last pose of the evening and it completely lacks energy, even though it is a very static one. What I did get though, was huge feet!  The left side of his body needed much more drop in the shoulder as well as the hip and I could do better with the muscular play in the shoulders and of course…the arms!! The model was really wonderful, he moved into each pose with conviction and grace and wonderful confidence.

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Postmortem: I enjoyed doing this.

The body gives fascinating poses with foreshortening.

I’ve learnt that caution doesn’t get you anywhere closer to success. Thus, my fear of overdoing the foreshortening didn’t result in anything better than had I gone for the extreme.

I’ve learnt that good darks is essential in giving depth and dimension to any drawing.

In foreshortening poses, it is essential to forget that you’re dealing with a body, because the lines and masses and values don’t always make sense. Draw what you see.

I’ve learnt to get some distance from my paper in order to get more energy into my drawing. By standing a bit further away, by holding the charcoal looser, working with arm movements, stepping away from the drawing often, loostening up the shoulders often, staying away from looking at details…all result in getting energy and movement on to the paper instead of keeping it locked up in the upper body. It’s a bit like playing a good tennis shot!

Now I only hope that I WILL learn what I’ve learnt!

More exciting recent figure drawing sketches from CathyG, Casey, Dee, Marta, Jana, (oil paints)  Martin, Scott Burdick, Joe Delaney, Anne Delplace (whose work I adore for its vitality and risks and expressions!). There are many more of which I’m sure I have somewhere left out or haven’t seen…let me know and I’ll add it for us all to see and enjoy.

Figure drawings

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.

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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.

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