3: Elbow/hand.

The learning curve is very steep, but the rotation of the radialis (it ‘radiating’ around the ulnavs the humerus hinged to the ulna-elbow is becoming clearer, as is the distinction between the ‘block’ of the carpals and the separate phalanges. I think I drew the saddle joint at the base of the thumb in the wrong direction. Again, I’m not worrying about drawing everything to the correct scale.

joint 3 underlay

joint 3 overlayjoint 3 overlay 3



























4. Upper Limb, posterior.

I’m simplifying things now that I know the names of the bones, aiming for some sort of coherent perspectival scheme but resisting the urge to use tone. Simplifying perspective even further would probably be a consequence of using charcoal rather than graphite. At any rate, I’m coming to grips with planes.

joint 4



Synovial joints is to muscles as geological formation is to landscape. If I’m aware of joints, then I’m hopeful of portraying muscles more convincingly.

I notice the Proko course assignments are closely related to drawings of George Bridgman, the founder of the teaching of modern figure drawing. I needed to look closely at bones (which necessitated knowing their names) and the use of colour helped to differentiate important bone structures.

I notice many of my colleagues are doing this digitally but I can see value in doing the whole thing freehand, even though I’m ignoring correct proportions between forearm and hand, for example.

With this level of detail, working small is a problem. For scanning purposes they are all being done on A4 photocopy paper and because of the increasing complexity, I am resorting to overlays of tracing paper.

The endgame is perspectival accuracy, which has also underpinned the other course, Figure Drawing Fundamentals. Hence, the focus on perspective increases with each set.


1: Upper Limb, anterior. Rough sketch, coming to grips with joint types.

joint 1 rough










2: Acromioclavicular joint.

joint 3 overlay 2

joint 2 underlay


Okay, so I’m discovering everyone else in this business uses markers or waterproof ink and I’m using lead pencils. Part of me says that if the humble 2B pencil worked for Lloyd Rees and Sydney Ure Smith so well last century, then that should be sufficient. I look at my scans though and, regardless of resolution, none of the detail is being picked up. Do I go with the (digital) flow and move over to the materials used by urban sketchers and the like which can be reproduced perfectly via digital scans? I’ve scanned at Medium Size several A4 sketches (scan res upped to several MB each), older ones using sanguine/conte on coloured paper and they obviously scrub up better than 2B pencil. I’ll keep hunting around the Net for sketchers who use sanguine/conte on coloured paper, perhaps exploiting the contrast between ‘old’ techniques and new subject matter. In the meantime, I’m rifling through my pencils, pencils, crayons, chalks and in a dramatic move to wet media, have (on the basis of superb info provided by Borromini Bear in her Flickr photos) ordered a w/colour field set.



Today’s figure drawing involved the current Forearm Foreshortened but this time got back to coloured chalks/conte crayons which moved around (especially with white added) like “paint”. And, again resisting my sketching DNA, a contour-only in 2B pencil which digitally translates into a soft blue.



Today’s plein air involved the local boats at Holmbeach Avenue, with Wolli Creek residential towers in the background; I ought to continue the scene on the facing page! I followed one sketcher’s advice via the Net of ‘leading into’ the buildings in the mid- and background via a ‘link’ in the foreground. I’ve long been an admirer of Moira Huntly so threw in the ‘whimsical’ effect of the front fence in the immediate foreground as an after thought. As with all drawing, it’s all about a variety of marks to create visual interest, especially important in landscape where the propensity is to focus solely on horizontals with contrasting verticals.

An experiment also with a native groundcover, with grey-green leaves and woody stem like rosemary and curlicue buds and flowers in the softest lemon and fuschia pink – to be re-attempted in original colours!


My second go at the streetscape from my front porch. 10am again. Quite hot. Love the sharp shadows of wooden lattice on dark brickwork but have ignored more DNA which says to Go Tonal and went contour today. I hate contour. I have to learn to love contour. In stopping, I exercised enormous self-discipline – normally I’d keep going, launching into cross-hatching along the lines of Stephen Gardner’s Cap Dude and similar (love his red ink work on yellow paper). Obviously if I was redoing it as a painting/colour exercise I’d be creating more interesting geometric shapes… Will come back tomorrow. I don’t get up at 3am each morning to draw the dawn but the idea (raised at the first Adelaide Drawing Marathon) still appeals deep down.

The Internet is quickly dispelling my long-held preconceptions about sketching. I thought my compulsion for sketching was something to be kept private, like a mental disease. Drawing unobtrusively in public carries with it now all sorts overtones of privacy invasion and sexual predation, but obviously where one focuses on landscape, still life, the risks of physical and verbal abuse are minimised. Some weblogs and websites are extensions of life drawing classes and organised weekly sketchclubs. Whatever the format or rationale, I find fellow sketchers madly drawing and scanning/uploading. I feel liberated! I never quit full-time work as my father thought I might straight after spending a week drawing in Adelaide at the first Drawing Marathon, but drawing definitely has that pull. One of my strongest abiding memories is trying to fly home early on a Sunday night back to Sydney with full-size drawing paper – and I mean full-size, huge rolls of paper far too big to ordinarily go as air luggage.

Spent time looking at the magnificent on-site Italy journal(s) of USK’s Australian Correspondent, Liz Steel, at http://www.urbansketchers.org; equally extraordinary linework from Eza. Curious to see that churches are charging entry in Italy; that was not the case back in 1978 but Italy has become a tourist theme park from Lombardy to Palermo, so I shouldn’t be surprised, something strongly hinted at in this week’s tv Italian movie, Agata e la tempesta. Under their influence, I have picked up biro and conte pencils today; sketchbooks with the mid-tones already in place thanks to the coloured paper background don’t look thick on the ground, but love the suggestion of someone on the Net somewhere about drawing on individual folios and binding them.

**gasp** leaves the house #1

22 January, 2010 is mercifully a Saturday so am aiming to attend the 30th SketchCrawl (TM). This may happily also involve something called the Sydney Sketch Club. Balmoral Beach was first mooted but there’s movement at the station for Manly. On account of the manliness of the indigenous who stood up to the colonial whities, so they say. Beaches are what we do best at in High Summer and I can’t overlook the fact that our surf carnivals and their participants have entered the iconography of gay imagery round the globe. Mustn’t forget the sunblock and ought to warm up with a schizzo or two at Circular Quay – the vista from the northern platform of the subway rail station, for starters. For maximum intensity (certainly my natural inclination), I would solo-crawl – but I can do that anytime, in my own way, separate from SketchCrawl. For me, the thing to do is probably organise the train/ferry trip in stages, giving myself regular 20-minute breaks to draw along the way: the local railway station, Circular Quay, a ferry or two, the ferry wharf at Manly and then the Beach proper. Manly Beach will certainly be a challenge: the place is astonishingly ‘open’ to the elements, the built environment certainly takes second place. I have always liked the winding path around to Fairy Bower.

On SketchCrawl:  

Questo gruppo prende spunto dal sito ufficiale fondato da Enrico Casarosa a San Francisco che ormai da anni organizza giornate di disegno per le città di tutto il mondo. Il gruppo si prefigge di organizzare giornate di sketchcrawl, disegno dal vero en plein air. Il gruppo è’ aperto a tutti senza limiti di età o di esperienza nel disegno. E’ un modo per scambiarsi opinioni, per passare giornate piacevoli insieme e soprattutto rilassarsi.

 **gasp** leaves the house #2

Second public outing: Saturdays 12 March to 16 April from 1pm, starting at the Palm Grove Centre, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. Great Garden Sketchabout at http://GardenSketchabout.blogspot.com. By rights, I should visit the Japanese Garden at Campbelltown Arts Centre in the morning of one of these Saturdays and continue out to Mount Annan Botanic Gardens.



www.sketchcrawl.com       http://cose-wawos.blogspot.com/       http://sketchoftheday.blogspot.com/          www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

More work on forearms and portraits. Tackling long-standing weaknesses in my figure drawing repertoire. Sharing drawings online makes me accountable to a ‘greater’ or ‘more public’ self – it forces me to ‘move forward’. I appreciate how time-consuming all the scanning and commentary is, at least references to same by sketcher colleagues with weblogs. These are all pages from the Glenys Mann The Artist’s Notebook Project event (Fibre Arts Australia); the A5 visual art diary notebook is slowly filling up and my deadline is end-February 2011. Since Glenys’ colleagues are in the textile/art cloth community, my sketchbook is somewhat outre. No ideas for surface design of textiles there. Ultimately of course my sketchbook is due for filing on the shelf along with all the other earlier ones, so it has to be essentially ‘me’, part of that long personal journey.

Additions to the sketchbook have been desultory over the last few months because priority has been given to temari balls and most recently yubinuki. The notebook however includes my current preoccupations: male portraits, male figure drawing, male cellists, foreshortened arms/fists, with the odd reference to analysis of patterns for temari balls thrown in. Since I have retained all my photographic reference material, I may end up simply repeating the same subject matter over and over (to see if and by how much I improve, perhaps). I could always mirror-image the entries of the first half of the sketchbook, copying from the same sources in the second half of the book in reverse order. No-0ne would know except me.

Not included in my sketches has been my ‘holiday’ of stitched biscornus while I give temari balls and yubinuki a bit of a break. The current searing heat of midsummer and a week away from work/commute – the metro/bouleau/dodo routine – is traditionally a time when I ‘do something else’. I am slowly getting back to Riven Phoenix’s Structure of Man, which I know lies at the heart of my future progress in figure drawing and will mark a revolutionary step away from the tonal copying I am doing to a decent structural underpinning in what I do. The inspiration of USK will make itself known eventually too, especially since my workplace is so close to a large Sydney cemetary.  The Brooklyn Artist’s Sketchbook Project, and other Net references, seem to prefer the small 3×5 and larger 5×8 moleskines/visual art diaries. I have a 3×5 moleskine to hand which should become my ‘public’ face (I show no-one my sketchbooks normally because of the contempt in which the public/strangers hold male figure drawing); it might become the vehicle for pen & ink and form a springboard to w/colour and work with markers. The moleskine I’ve always considered somewhat too small (for the sort of work I normally do), but I experienced a life-changing moment and a profound new respect for this size notebook, when I saw a group of them, with sketches of clouds no less, all done by J.M.W. Turner (or was it Constable?) at a blockbuster art event at the National Art Gallery in Canberra some years back.


January 1, 2011


Two sketches, done in 4H pencil, concerning the foreshortened arm. The first is the sketch done by the well-known Jacopo di Pontormo, with its origami-like treatment of the fingers and the second is drawn from the 3D computer graphics of www.albron.wordpress.com. Up close you can see that this 21st-century master has respected all the conventions of reflected light and a very subtle use of hatching to reflect volume. The attraction for me of course is the contour though. To show some sort of progression from youth to old age I will add later some foreshortened arm work associated with a Hercules or Jovian type, which leads me to me use both on the use of young/old together in albron’s group studies but that the dichotomy of Old Man and the Young Man lie at the heart of the representation of the male form in Western art. The Old Man, with his wrinkles and ‘used’ thus bizarre muscle structure often a vehicle for an artist’s virtuosity, is under-represented these days, compared to the past.  In skimming around the Net checking out ‘gay male drawing’, the work of www.albron.wordpress.com seeks to create a new contemporary iconography albeit in the world of 3D-enhanced computer graphics. I mention a new iconography because we’re obviously well-grounded in Sebastians and Christs (from Mantegna to Saranno) and it’s intriguing how poses for the 20th/21st-century gay male viewer have become knotted around particular poses, obviously closed linked with eroticism. The larger-than-life aspects of albron relate exactly to the work of the Ancients; the breathtaking majesty and sheer size of koroi statutes in Athens form an exact parallel. I guess with the influence of the Etruscans, the contribution of the Ancient Romans was portraiture and head sculpture.  What are we to make of the small head (compared to body size) in some of them? Another direct link to the Ancients. What are we to make of the exaggerated wasp-like waist? Ditto. Not so sure about the exaggerated pecs. They seem, to me, to owe more to the fetishisation of breasts in 20th-century art/popular culture.  Some of the arabesque contours associated with the limbs obviously come straight from Japanese manga, surrounded by an otherwise Western physionomy (which is where a comparison with the G-men of Jiraiya is instructive). Some other 3D computer graphics I’m aware of depict somewhat older men than those Albron is working on; more of that later, but suffice to say here that those show more personality/character than the more stylized versions of Albron, perhaps mid-way between young and old, Adonis and Hercules. Though in some of Albron’s work of course the young and the old, small and large respectively, appear together.

I’m automatically and irrevocably drawn to foreshortening and contraposto; the monochromatic 3D quality is a good exercise to work on in terms of tonality. Which takes nothing away from the 21st-century ‘decoration’ associated with the (mandatory these days), body hair stubble, tattoos, military cap, etc., surely the equivalent of the paint/colour applied to Ancient Greek statues of old. The form remains classic and timeless; the decoration applied is of the moment, sanctioned by the society of the day, a bit like the decisions involved in renovating an historic house these days – which era do you freeze the house in?