Life Drawing at Newtown

July 7, 2014

Part 1: eight 1-minute poses; two 5-minute poses; three ten-minute poses; break; Part 2: two twenty-minute poses.

Working standing at an easel, the model was at close range, unraised off the floor, with no directional light. With a light blue ground cover and a black background cloth, his all-over tan helped create tonal values.  Some issues of course with looking down on the model when sitting or recumbent and even when standing.

Strategy & Tactics. My strength tonight was leaving areas in shade as loose and undefined without any attempt at ‘hard’ contour where there is none to be seen. I was happiest with my very last 20 minute sketch which featured variety of line with additions of darkest tone using a 7B pencil. I was careful to spend some time on drapery; in places, it’s not always clear whether I’m drawing drapery or flesh and Yvon’s modus operandi, smudging a flesh tone within the contour, is worthy of note. Currently I’m aiming for a personal synthesis of Bridgman, Reilly, Loomis, Proko and Riven Phoenix, with a nod also to Brague and Yvon. The most important thing to note is that dynamic gesture seems to have been developed long after 19th-century academic studies from life. There is a world of difference between the moderns with their 10- and 20-minute poses and Yvon who completed a single drawing in 50 hours and contemporary expononents of Brague who do a single study in 40 hours. That said, Proko has shown in his videoclips how much information can be captured in just 120 seconds.

Materials & Supports. This session’s short poses were done on A4 copy paper; I’m aiming for just enough gestural information to indicate where the limbs, hands and feet might lie. Poses longer than 10minutes were done on A2 cartridge but they ended up fitting into a 28x40cm rectangle (A3) since they ended up being more or less sight-size. I progressed from a single hard 3H pencil to 3H-HB-2B pencils, finishing with very soft pencils, 2B-4B-6B in final sketches, all Staedtler Mars Lumograph. I progressed also during the session from overhand pencil grip to tripod pencil grip.

Method. I would have liked to have adopted the technique of Yvon (see in which straight lines are built on a central plumb line, but I am still finding there is no time for a logical method – everything is a purely reflexive responsive or reflexive action. That is reflected in the frenetic mark-making. The overhand grip helps to establish some sort of dynamic gesture and I have my own inbuilt canon when it comes to proportions. In longer poses, I probably need to consciously “break” and stand back from my work momentarily before moving from one stage to another: gestural/plumb lines, envelope/blocking in, adjusting proportions by measuring horizontally and vertically. With this in place, and only then, ought I to move to tone and detail.

One-minute poses

6july 01 6july 02 6july 03

These reflect the influence of George Bridgman: a contour ‘envelope’ with landmarks noted.

Five-minute poses

Unhappiest with these, with as many as seven or eight restatements for each envelope contour line. At least I was able to capture sufficient detail of the pose for further work if required.

6july 04




6july 05  I need to review the Youtube videoclips of Proko, especially nothing how much he gets down in his 2-minute poses.

Ten- and twenty-minute poses 

These show problems with moving too quickly to detail and tone without having fully completed blocking in and checking proportions. Legs are either too thick or too thin. Interestingly though all done on A2 paper, most of the figure fits within A4 dimensions, as shown by these A4 grayscale scans.

6july 06


6july 07 10min 36july 07 10min 46july 07 10min 5  6july 07 10min 2


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