Exercise 50: Essential shapes
This exercise asked for a variety of seated poses at slight angles, noting any twists or bends, lines of movement, or foreshortening. As a preface to each drawing, I made a quick sketch to establish the basic shapes of the poses (see above).
Again, we were advised to identify a unit of measure to help with scale and proportion so, in my first drawing (see above) I took the head as a measure. As I wrote in my previous post, this way of measuring feels awkward to me, but I thought it was important to try and pin it down if possible. Doing so meant that the above picture took me a full three quarters of an hour to do – this was double what the successive pictures took (for which I reverted to my usual ‘by sight’ comparative method of measuring), and I could see no discernible difference. For this drawing, I used negative space to help place the arms in relation to the rest of the body. I found the initial gestural sketch helped to get a feel for the position of the body, too – particularly the angle of the model’s right hand shoulder, which sloped downwards, thus compressing that side of the body, and elongating the opposite side. I think I identified the shapes reasonably well, but would’ve liked to see something more substantial for the time it took.
Partly from necessity, but largely from choice, I decided to work more rapidly on the following poses, and chose to do my measuring by eye (working out the central point of the figure, and relating the various parts of the body to it). I also switched from charcoal to using a graphite stick – first time for me using these. I’d used graphite pencils frequently, but liked the sticks very much. Quite similar to working with charcoal. In this pose, the model had her left arm raised crossing over in front of her tilted head, whilst her right leg was crossed in the other direction, creating a twist in the figure. I’d say it was as successful as the first drawing, but it still felt stilted. I’m keen to work more loosely, and feel that change is within grasp – but it’s frustratingly slow in developing!
The third pose (above) also featured a twist in the shape, with the head turning to the right, and the right arm crossing over the body to the left. I was pleased with the foreshortening on the shoulders, but the right arm feels slightly too narrow. The light was quite flat for this pose, so there’s little in the way of shadow.
The fourth pose was rather more interesting. The model was seated on the floor, lit quite boldly from her left/my right. It was tricky to capture the crossing of her legs in proportion to the rest of her body – quite a confusion of angles. Her right arm doesn’t look quite right, curling around her leg – this was a bit rushed, though (I’d spent most of the pose time trying to establish the shapes and positioning properly).
Overall, I was quite disappointed with these drawings as pieces in themselves, but I do think they convey the main shapes and gestures, which I realise was the point of the exercise.