Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Review: Expressive Figure Drawing, by Bill Buchman

10/25/12 Kuretake Brush Writer (2-min. pose)
I’ve taken classes in figure drawing, studied books on anatomy for artists, and practiced on my own in figure drawing open studio sessions, but nothing has excited me as much about drawing the human figure as this book: Expressive Figure Drawing: New Materials, Concepts and Techniques, by Bill Buchman.
This quotation towards the end of the book sums up the author’s dynamic teaching philosophy: “The process of learning to draw the figure and the process of releasing your creativity and expressivity are one.”
11/8/12 Nero pencil (20-min. pose)
He begins with the drawing process, seemingly paradoxical guiding principles (“you have to give up control to get control”) and practical strategies for gauging accurate proportions. Using a variety of media (including some unconventional combinations such as water-soluble wax crayons with diluted acrylic ink) and tools like sumi brushes and reed pens, the author gives an example on every page of the concepts and techniques practiced in the exercises. (These examples are some of the most beautiful figure drawings I’ve seen and are alone worth the price of the book.) These concepts and techniques include gesture, mass, line, structure, shape, volume and color. Several step-by-step process examples are also given, which made me feel like I was looking over his shoulder in the studio. The book closes with ideas on developing what the author calls the “expressive mindset”: learning how to capture the spirit or life of the subject, or the Chi.
Ultimately and ideally, by following the book’s exercises and practicing diligently, the expression conveyed by the human body and the expression conveyed by the artist will come together in a dynamic life drawing that does, indeed, have life.
I can’t wait to get back into a figure drawing studio to practice the innovative exercises in this book!
(This book review also appears on

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