In addition to portrait painting, I teach figure drawing at the Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy. This time around we did a series of large pencil drawings with a focus on observed anatomy and construction. The class is intense as it involves extended poses that last at least a week with 3 hours of model time a day under natural light. An expended method of sight-size is used. (For those not familiar with the sight-size method please check out Darren Rousar’s concise explanation here at www.sightsize.com.) The easels arrangement reflects the standard sight-size approach and aids the students with the initial measurements. Very often during the duration of the project, the sight-size is ‘broken’ and the easel pushed back to give greater distance from the work and help the student study the ‘big shape.’ There has been a debate over the merits of the sight-size method versus the comparative system in under life size work. However, I feel that the two methods are not mutually exclusive. When sight-size is taught correctly under the guidance of a properly trained artist comparative measurements are constantly being utilized.
It is important to remember that developing observation skills and translating nature into 2 dimensions is the ultimate goal of any drawing course. Recognizing relationships between elements seems to be the most difficult skill for the aspiring student to acquire. The human figure is constantly in flux. The most common complaint from the beginning art student is in regards to a perceived alteration in the model’s pose. But the fault is usually found in the drawing, not the model. No single mark, angle or line is ever ‘correct’ all by itself. The accuracy and beauty lie in the relationship created between a series of marks. Small, natural and inevitable shifts in a model’s pose help us study and understand the true form of the figure. The language of drawing(as informed by the Old Masters) enable us to express this idea of Form that we perceive.
The images shown are the 4 studies that I completed while teaching.
After 5 weeks of long poses we spent the last 5 days dedicated to sanguine drawing. Each pose lasted a day or so. I even showed the class how to prepare the sanguine sticks as well. It is a very difficult medium to do well. Sanguine technique bridges very nicely the world of line with tone.