Part 3

Project: Observing the human figure

Exercise: Drawing the human Figure – see sketchbook for a range of life drawing sketches. As I couldn’t find a life drawing class at short notice, I managed to find this site with timed poses for free. It’s possible to sign up and pay to get the full package of poses and tuition but I’m sticking with the free stuff for now:

New Masters Academy (2015) Draw the Human Form – Figure Drawing Reference (DLDS # 33) – 4K Timed Nude Life Models Session. At: (Accessed on 20 November 2019)

Research: image collection of figure drawings and painting that appeal to me (artists listed below).

  1. Annette Smith, watercolour
  2. Evelina Dilon – realistic skin tones but applied in rough way
  3. Debra Hurd – skin tones enhanced with warm reds and ‘life’
  4. Justin Ogilvie – detail toward front but rear leg etc have none, just shadow
  5. Ingres
  6. Ingres
  7. Leomid Aframov – feathery, dabbing brush strokes, I might find this easier?
  8. Anastasiya Valiulina, oil on canvas – violet as mid tone skin
  9. Helena Wierzbicki
  10. Helena Wierzbicki – background and figure have same colours, all about the placement of the colours. Uses black outline where darker toned
  11. Standing Blue Nude by Henri Matisse – just carefully shaped cutouts, no tone at all
  12. The Dance by Henri Matisse
  13. Three Studies of a Ballerina by Edgas Degas
  14. Worm drawing at Hickory Museum of Art – line to give tones, extremities without detail
  15. You’re Still My Favorite Story by Samantha Rueter – same colour for figure and background, black lines to show form, lightest tones left white, direction of brush strokes

Exercise: Linear Figure Study

Lots of different styles and techniques shown above to choose from of course but for this task I’m going to try out the style of Samantha Rueter (no. 15 and also see sketchbook)

This is the pose I chose and first sketches focussing on line:

I then tested out a few techniques to see what worked. Samantha Rueter uses Acrylics and Mixed Media for most of her work. I was interested to try making the lines in a variety of ways (see sketchbook):

Acrylic Ink background with credit card and figure lines with stick – a bit tricky to control

Acrylic paint this time which doesn’t scrape very interestingly but it’s easy to get a range of tones by diluting. Figure lines with brush – I like the layering of tones with line as on head and shoulder area.

This one’s watercolour which I have very little experience of using ‘properly’ so am making it up! On Hahnemuhle Mixed Media 310gm2 paper for watercolour.

First applied wash of violet and tilted page to allow it to run and spread. Allowed to dry a little and then used a credit card to scrape back the lines of the figure. Dried off with hairdryer and then used credit card to add paint to accentuate lines and areas of darker tone eg face and shoulder, bottom and lower back. Used credit card to scrape paint horizontally for floor and vertically for walls to ground the figure (Violet and Phthalo Blue). Yellow (complementary colour) highlights added – not applied well and look a mess but perhaps if done better…

Interesting method, needs more practice to get it right but I feel this could go somewhere so trying more watercolour figures:

Water Colour, this time on Canson Mix Media 200gm2 paper.

There is too much background this time and the lower half of the figure hasn’t got the correct proportions. I did try lightly drawing on the outline before applying the wash but it got lost of course. I do like the crop below however – the angles of the shoulder and how it’s highlighted on the upper side, the heavy shade on the face and neck, and the ragged hair falling over her face.

Another watercolour try:

Back to the Hahnemuhle Mixed Media 310gm2 paper. Proportions better this time and I like having less background colour. Worked hard on the shaded area of face and neck, and again that area has worked well whereas the feet and lower legs are wrong but reworking is making it worse! Scraping back the wash gives very light outlines of slight puddles of wash ie light line effect for the light areas. By then adding paint to the darker toned lines, the figures become 3 dimensional and rounded.

This paper is very different from the Canson – although this one specifically says for watercolour, the surface doesn’t hold up to much rubbing and is rather like blotting paper giving a rough textured finish rather than the smooth of Hahnemuhle paper.

Exercise: Tonal figure study

Restricted palette so that I focus on the tonal values so perhaps something like the figure by Justin Ogilvie (no. 4 above)

Chosen pose as there’s lots of contrast

Acrylics on SAA Practice Paper, Satin Linen – Embossed Surface 330gsm.

Started with a mid toned grey wash as suggested. Decided to go with blue instead of flesh colours so that I could focus on the tones rather than getting the exact colour correct. Mixed up a range of 9 tones using Indigo, white and black acrylic – see sketchbook.

Left to dry for a few hours after 3. above so that I could focus on the adjustments needed. Used a mop brush to apply a light second coat to background so that brush strokes largely disappeared and to give the feel of more texture. Changed to my smallest rounded point brush and did dots rather the strokes which seemed to work better for me. Really studied the changes in tone. Reworked the face and hands several times but still not totally happy that they’re correct. Left overnight.

Small reworkings to hands – I realised that I had all the fingers splayed rather than overlapping at the tips and added darker tone to the finger ends. Also narrowed the top of that right arm toward wrist. Bit better now.

Overall I’m quite happy that I’ve got the tones largely correct so that she looks realistic and rounded. Hands and head still aren’t quite right but the best I can do for now.

The angle of her lower left leg isn’t correct – should be vertical rather than angled inward, and this has the effect of making her look like she’s dancing/bouncing around instead of putting some weight into those toes in a still pose.

Loving this paper – paint glides over it smoothly and it’s sturdy enough not to crinkle at all. Expensive but probably worth it.


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