For this assignment, you should complete two large figure studies (A1 size) and a portrait or self-portrait (any size) – three drawings in total, together with supporting studies, experiments, etc.
For each drawing, consult your preliminary studies and make notes on what you plan to do. Think about composition, medium and approach. Write a few notes on the artist(s) that have inspired you to work in a particular way. Be inventive in your approach and in the materials you use. You’re not restricted to working with black on white. Try reversing this to white on black, or consider monochrome, perhaps dark blue on pale blue paper, or ink and charcoal on newspaper – the list is endless, so be inventive. Allow around two hours for each drawing.
1 Figure study using line (A1) – Seated model in an upright chair
I started this assignment by trying to do a line drawing of myself but failed comically badly. My top half is much too bulky compared with the rest of me and there is a lack of reality about the finished drawing. Surprisingly I rather liked the face as time went by and the result was definitely better than the rest of the body. I found it difficult to drawer myself and to sit at the same time. I don’t think my eye was particularly objective either!
So I attended a life drawing class and decided to develop the model’s seated pose. She was wearing fairy wings and holding flowers but I decided to drop these props from my pictures after a few sketches as they were distracting and not adding anything to the finished pictures. I found it really hard to keep the proportions accurate because of the slightly awkward position the model was sitting in. As a result I repeatedly ended up with shoulders that were too wide and the foreshortening in the other leg was not always convincing. In some of the preparatory sketches the hands and face were quite nicely depicted but by the time I got to the final pictures the details seemed to be naturally reduced.
I tried very hard to be as expressive and experimental with the large drawing as I was with the preparatory studies, trying not to tighten up or lose fluidity. This was hard, and possibly not achieved, as I was constantly grappling with the challenge of transferring the images onto the larger scale paper. I found this really difficult.
There is an artist called Fred Hatt that I frequently go back to as I am fascinated by his approach to figure drawing:
I wish I could reproduce the effect he creates. His influence informed my attempt using aquarelle crayons. Fred is very sensitive in his use of line- many of which define contours at the same time as light and shade. I would need a LOT more practice to achieve this fantasyic effect.
2 Figure study using tone (A1) – Reclining model
Pastels on A1 cartridge paper: For this part of the assignment I had to default to life drawing models posing on-line because there were no willing models available at home! Firstly, after a few loosening up sketches, I tried using pastels. However, in my mind this would have ideally been on a mid-tone paper, and as the only A1 paper I have is white, I did not feel the finish was very effective. I also made my usual error of making the head too small- either that or the legs and body are too big!! I struggled with the head and overworked it making the effect heavy and lumberous! In places the picture is loose and in others it looks like I tried just a bit too hard!
Charcoal on A1 cartridge paper. I had another go at the assignment using charcoal. I always enjoy charcoals; I like the fact that they stop me being too finicky about detail! They also encourage me to focus on tone rather than line. I was really pleased with this charcoal drawing. I found it easier to do on the A1 format paper, which encouraged a more gestural approach. This drawing mainly used tone, rather than line, to create a sense of form and atmosphere. I found I naturally looked at shapes. I realise that I have unwittingly used a model who is not showing her hands. Also, by not over-working the hair, it’s lightness brings the head forward in the picture. The light areas against strong shadows gives 3D form to the figure.
I have really struggled doing these drawings in a large format as they have often required scaling up from what I can see by eye so numerous errors tend to get introduced.
In all of these attempts my models are unclothed -I hope this still falls within the objectives of the assignment?
3 A portrait or self-portrait combining line and tone (any size)
Create a portrait a self-portrait where the features are believable and in proportion to the rest of the face, head, shoulders and chest. Try to find an interesting position rather than looking straight ahead. Use mirrors to view from different angles. In your sketchbook, experiment with some of the ideas you’ve uncovered during your research into other contemporary artists’ work.
Work with variations of tone and expressive line to create an interesting and atmospheric image. For your main light source, you might try using a candle, small lamp or torch in a semi-darkened room to exaggerate the contrasting lights and darks, for example. You might also work very close up with the features filling the sheet. Be experimental and ambitious in this drawing.
Self portrait- Pastel on A3 pastel paper. For this part of the assignment I did a drawing of myself in front of my dressing table mirror. There’s something symbolic about that location since it is somewhere I often study myself. I found this so interesting- the end result definitely has my features but I can’t decide if it has a likeness? How much of that is due to the disconnect between what I think I look like and how others see me?