Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Project: Proportions - Exercise: Quick Poses

The first time I tried this exercise I hadn't really absorbed the instructions and aims properly. The specific aim of this is to practice measuring proportions and to produce rapid but proportional drawings. My mind did't really get past the fact that they were 2 minute sketches so I just started drawing in a panicky scribbly way again and didn't measure anything. Consequently the results were poor and I produced the common errors predicted in the text: "common faults are to make the head too big and the legs too short". My husband Luigi does have quite a low centre of gravity (short legs) but it was clear that I'd exaggerated this. Luckily I only wasted 10 minutes on this (5 x 2 minute sketches). 

2 minute sketches without measurements showing heads which are
too big and legs which are too short.

One of the reasons that I had just started drawing in this way without measuring was that having been to the OCA drawing workshop I had found that working my way around the figure referring back and forth between adjacent shapes had actually been quite effective in rendering drawings which appeared to be in proportion and I was afraid that measuring might make the drawing 'tighten up' and be less interesting. You could, therefore say they these 10 minutes weren't in fact wasted but were a useful demonstration to me that my previous method was useful but had significant drawbacks. One of the major drawbacks being that even starting from the middle and working outwards there is a tendency to amputate hands and feet. 

I moved on to 10 minute sketches in the same mode of working and ended up with a similar result:
10 Minute sketch charcoal and white chalk
 (no measuring): Head is too big
relative to the torso and legs and the feet are off the page

10 Minute sketch (no measuring): Head is too big and is sitting at an
odd angle relative to the shoulders

10 Minute sketch (no measuring): General proportions seem a bit better
here but the area in the midriff is too wide compared to the model- his
abdomen and bottom are not this big.

So I realised that I was sorely in need of this exercise and that I needed to pull back and take account of the overall proportions of the body before starting to draw (it would be better to spend 1 minute looking before drawing even if that only left a minute to draw rather than just draw inaccurately and spill off the page unintentionally). So I had another try:

2 minutes: drawing pen
 I was, however, being somewhat stubborn with myself and I decided to measure but to mark the paper very faintly or to just go over the proportions with my finger without marking so I still didn't end up with well proportioned figures. I felt happy that the standing poses were easier to draw and for the most part I had fitted the figure 
on the page.

2 minutes: brush pen
When I measured
these figures retrospectively I found that most of them still did not have the classic head as 1/7th of the body proportions. This really reinforced that I needed to follow the instructions more closely. To measure carefully and to mark my measurements on the page before starting.

2 minutes: charcoal
10 minutes (charcoal): I really struggled with this
pose I panicked about the foreshortening of the
thighs and didn't measure accurately
2 minutes: pencil
2 minutes: drawing pen

10 minutes: The model was reclining
(snoozing) in an armchair. However looking
at this now I think the angle around his pelvis
and his legs is wrong - he looks too upright and
as though he is about to slide off the chair 

10 minutes (marker pen- sharpie): I am
happier with the proportions here but have
amputated the left foot.

The other realisation from looking at my sketches retrospectively was that I had not stepped back from my work often enough. Some of the drawings were clearly not right and I saw this immediately on stepping back. Lesson learnt - always step back frequently even if you are doing a very rapid sketch - you can't correct the sketch after the model has moved - make corrections as you go along.

I've seen another exercise on measurement and proportion in figure drawing in an old issue of 'artist and illustrators' magazine so I'm going to try that and then have another attempt at this exercise.

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