Saturday, December 16, 2006

Life Drawing #4 (1982-1983?)

Just realized that these life drawings were not done on a newsprint drawing pad as I had stated earlier. They were done on a slightly higher quality white drawing paper pad. Because it has been a long time since I have drawn or painted from life rather than memory and dreams, and I thought maybe it was time to start drawing from life again, even if only to draw my cat, I bought a book called HOW TO DRAW ANYTHING: A COMPLETE GUIDE, by Angela Gair. 

On page 20 of that book, she says: "If you are not sure of the height of, say, a tree in the distance compared with a tree in the foreground, you can check using the "measure-and-compare" method. Use the foreground tree as your "key measure," comparing all parts of the subject to that. Hold your pencil at arm's length, elbow locked, in front of the tree. Keeping one eye closed, line up the tip of the pencil with the top of the tree and mark the position of the base of the trunk with your thumbnail. This is your key measure. Now, keeping your thumbnail in position and your arm outstretched, move the pencil to that distant tree and compare its height with the length of your key measure. You can compare the length of your key measure with other parts of the landscape, too, for measuring widths as well as heights." 

This technique is what Tom Sherwood taught us in his life drawing classes and what I found most useful in being able to draw people from life. 

 On the wall near my computer is a large postcard titled "How to Draw Geometric Shapes." It shows, in four steps, how to look at a small dog who is sitting down, a parrot's head and a horse's head in order to draw two triangles, a circle and a rectangle. As a child trying to learn to draw from art instruction books, I never made much progress using that technique of reducing the shapes and structures of animals to geometric shapes in order to build them back up into a completed drawing, and that postcard has been on my wall for years because it still makes me smile. As I was looking at the above drawing again, I remembered that the way I did life drawings was to start somewhere in the person's face, usually the eyes. I would make a beginning mark and then from there begin the measuring process. I didn't sketch in the whole person, as is usually advised, and I certainly didn't reduce the person to geometric shapes, but slowly developed a drawing that I was pleased with. The process was deeply meditative.


robin andrea said...

I've been trying to comment here over the past few days but beta blogger wouldn't let me log in.

I like your life drawings. You have a good eye.

I have enjoyed your thoughtful comments on our blog. I appreciate your input. Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the discussions.

am said...

Thanks for persevering until you could leave a comment. At least one other person has had the same difficulty with beta blogger not letting them log in. Glad you like my life drawings. I appreciate your blog for the lively insightful writing and photos that you and Roger post so faithfully.