Project 3 Exercise 4 Energy

The Aim

  1. Work on A3 paper and using a variety of materials that allow for broad and sweeping marks, quickly sketch a figure in a dynamic pose (up to around 5 mins).
  2. Experiment with creating abstract marks that depict movement in your sketchbook

The Exercise

For this exercise I used photographic poses from Smith, M.E. (1998) The Nude Figure: A visual reference for the artist. Watson-Guptill Publications: New York. and drew on A3 cartridge paper

With these 2 poses I have tried not to get caught up in details but tried to draw quickly mimicking the fleetingness of each pose. The first i better than the second in this respect. The jump pose has become too fussy too quickly and i think lost the transient nature of the movement as a result.

With these two pastel drawings I have concentrated on getting a line of flow through the torso and the limbs and built up the outline of the body around this flow in a different colour. I quite like the result, No4 more so than No 3 as the twist in the body and the turned out left leg adds more dynamism to the pose. I haven’t used marks here to capture the energy of the pose, rather I am exploring the fluidness of the body that results from movement. The fact that i was drawing from photos meant that I could capture each pose in about 3 mins. A model would not be able to hold these for this time.

Mark making: Movement
Mark making: Movement

I didn’t feel very inspired whilst trying to capture abstract marks regarding movement. The only ones that I identified with were the rubbing out marks in the charcoal. I may have missed the point of this part of the exercise and plan to record marks for movement as I come across them.

What I did get inspired by in this exercise was the use of broad, sweeping movements to create line. I enjoy drawing from the shoulder and was keen to try my hand at larger drawings to try and capture the idea of energy and movement.

I chose to do a more in-depth study from the photograph and drawing No 1 above. In order to consider the pose more and to loosen up a bit I drew the pose quickly (1 minute each) with a marker pen on a 60cm stick (drawings no’s 4, 5 and 6 below). I followed this up with a drawing with a graphite stick (pencil size) but held in my non-dominant left-hand. These are all still on A3 paper

Again I tried not to concern myself with details but just to get down the gist of the pose. By putting a pen on a stick I am noticing that my whole arm becomes a bit more free. it somehow allows my hand to be dissociated from holding the pen. The results aren’t pretty, the stick is pretty hard to control and I am deliberately working fast. However I did learn from this series of studies that this pose needs the sweeping bend of the torso, the foreshortening of the left knee coming out towards the viewer and the correct angle of the shoulders to maintain a sense of energy and movement. I also became quite aware that I was struggling to get the right shoulder to be convincing. The last drawing in this set of 4 (no 7) was drawn with a graphite stick but held in my non-dominant hand. So here by hand is much more involved with the paper and drawing material again but I removed the urge to be controlling by putting it in my left hand. I am actually quite pleased with the result. I have done a few drawings in this manner for later exercises (to be posted in order) and find it quite exhilarating. In this study I have managed to resolve the difficulties I was having with the right shoulder.

Having felt that I have freed up both my hand and my mind (!) a little with these studies I moved onto larger pieces of paper. The following drawings are all A1 in size. 

dance 6
No 9. Mixed media

For No 9. I started with a quick loose drawing using graphite block. I wet the paper and allowed some bleeding to occur and blocked in some of the shadow tones. I then built up the outline of the body with a brown coloured charcoal block using quick lines. I realised that I hadn’t got the line of the shoulders correct at all, and I really was struggling with that right shoulder again here so I drew on top again using a yellow ochre pastel to alter the lines. I added some more water to lift out the highlights on the left thigh using tissue paper. The whole A1 drawing took around 10 mins  The drawing is far from perfect but I was quite pleased with the sense of energy that I felt was there. The highlight on the leg is very important and so, i think, is the darker left arm, sending it backwards, creating more of a twist in the torso. I quite like the effect of the multi-layers of that left arm not actually being in the same place. this also adds to the sense of movement, the arm is moving through space over time. This gave me the idea of taping two pastels together and drawing to see if the double line created a sense of movement.

10. Soft pastel on coloured paper
10. Soft pastel on coloured paper

The effect didn’t quite work as planned. For starters, I chose too contrasting tones for the pastels and the yellow is overpowered by the purple. Secondly the pastels slipped in their paper sleeves so often only one pastel would actually be in contact with the paper. I tried to add some shading and highlights with a light grey pastel. The effect I was after can be seen with the right arm, I think this shows energy and portrays the idea of the arm moving through space. I am also pleased with the lower legs which aren’t overly overworked again creating a sense of movement the torso and left arm however are solid looking and don’t appear to have much energy at all. the neck is interesting, it looks a little like the drawing of the dissected head and neck on the front of my copy of Grey’s Anatomy – the sternocleidomastoid muscle being very prominent! At least I managed to resolve the shoulder line in this drawing. The initial drawing took around 10 minutes and then I fiddled and overworked it for about another 15 mins!!

11. Graphite putty with mixed media highlights
11. Graphite putty

My next large scale attempt was with a ball of graphite putty which I have only just come across. I love it, its messy but I have got to practice using it! I drew the outline of the body very quickly with the putty. I then sprayed areas with water and re-applied the putty for the dark tones. I comes off as thick black paint like substance when wet. Amazing different from the silvery thick line you get when it is dry (the outline that is still visible in most places). I tried to preserve the white paper for the key highlights. This was successful on the right leg but less so on the body. I tried to add in highlights once the graphite was dry – you can just make out feint lines of the bust area and the shoulder and neck area. however I found that neither oil paste nor soft pastel would take over the smooth surface of the graphite.  In the end I dragged a white charcoal block over he areas to try and lighten them. A step learning curve this one, but great fun to do. Again only taking around 10 minutes plus a couple of minutes fiddling around at the end. That right leg is definitely swinging through space but I have failed to deal with the shoulder adequately again!

In my final attempt I tried to take everything I had learned in the preceding 11 drawings and transfer this quickly onto a piece of A1 coloured paper (it is old packing paper which is why it is creased). Once again for this study I worked quickly, working with the important curves int eh body. I then added an outline to these curves to create the outer-skin layer. I have deliberately kept shading to a minimum as I wanted the lines to sing.

12. Soft pastel on coloured paper
12. Soft pastel on coloured paper

I fond that by using a white pastel to shade the negative space i was able to ‘carve’ out the shape of the figure. There is probably not as much ‘motion’ evident in this study compared to some of the previous studies, and I have ended up with rather a flat right thigh. However I love the twist in the torso and feel this gives the drawing its energy.

I learnt a huge amount doing this series, about depicting movement and energy but also how different materials behave. I was quite experimental and strayed from the original remit of the exercise but I don’t think this is a bad thing!

Project 3 Exercise 4 Energy

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