Thursday, March 12, 2015

All Classes, Homework Option One: Figure Practice 3/11/2015

This coming week we will work from a model. The same principles and the same approach that we practiced for all of our work so far apply to the figure as well.

Proceed from a general statement toward specific strokes, and from light to dark. The figure lends itself well to a 3 or four layer treatment; light shape blocked in broadly, followed by the mid-value shadow shape, with the darks going on last.


I'm hoping that we'll all experiment with different degrees of accuracy in the pencil drawing part of the process. That can include simply foregoing the drawing altogether, by the way.

In this painting the pencil lines are very obvious. Everywhere a body part meets another and where the figure meets the background there is a drawn line. Imagine if there were none. In most places, the difference between figure and ground or between upper arm and torso is sufficient to get the two shapes to separate from each other. Value and color differences establish edges, which serve well to define transitions. Of course, the presence of the outline, which was probably done first, makes the washes and strokes easier to place effectively, but there's a price. This otherwise elegant and efficiently painted  figure looks a little like a comic book. 


This figure, as simply stated and sketchy as he is, still appears to occupy space very convincingly. The original drawing, if there even was one, is not apparent in the finished piece. The artist lets the edges establish the difference between figure and ground. In some cases, like where the arm is juxtaposed on the torso, even the edges are allowed to disappear, leaving it to the viewer to finish the job of making an arm.

We'll have plenty of time to try a variety of approaches. For homework, try copying a couple of these, or looking for some online that you can see in a bigger format. I recommend searching "watercolor nudes". You'll still find some tawdry stuff, but not too much. 

Sorry I couldn't find the artist's names for some of these.

Mark Norseth

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