Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Foreshortened Nose and Other Random Thoughts About Figure Drawing

3/14/13 Kuretake Fountain Brush Pen, drawing pad (2 min.)
Now that I have filled one Gage life-drawing punch card and begun a second, I’m figuring out my favorite media to use, depending on the length of the pose. For two- and five-minute poses, I like to use brush markers or my favorite Kuretake fountain brush pen, which makes a fast, strong, bold mark (especially when filled with Platinum Carbon ink).

For 10-minute poses, which always seem downright leisurely after a series of much shorter poses, I’ve been using an extra-soft Cretacolor Nero pencil and white pencil on toned paper. Unfortunately, the only white pencil I had in my bag today was a water-soluble pencil, which didn’t make an opaque enough mark over the tan Strathmore paper. Next time I’m bringing my Primo Bianco charcoal pencil, which makes a solid, opaque mark. I might try this combo next time for longer poses, too.

My favorite media for 15- and 20-minute poses are water-soluble pencils combined with a diluted ink in a waterbrush as the wash. Today I used a Derwent watercolor pencil in indigo and diluted Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku ink. At $28 a bottle (or $2.50 for a sample, which is what I have), my choice of ink, I admit, was somewhat extravagant. But it tickles me to use an overly bright, unexpected color to do something as traditional as figure drawing.
3/14/13 Derwent water-soluble pencil, diluted ink, mixed-media paper (20 min.)

Incidentally, the first couple times I went to Gage for life drawing open studio sessions, everyone else used easels and large pads of paper with charcoal. As I got comfy in my chair and pulled out my 9” x 12” sketchbook, the monitor asked me, with a doubtful expression, “You don’t want an easel. . . ?” I was already feeling a bit intimidated at Gage – I knew of its reputation for teaching in the traditional European atelier method – and I figured everyone else in the room was a painter or practitioner of some other form of “serious” art, not a sketcher like I am. So the monitor looking askance at my setup (or lack thereof) intimidated me even more – but not enough to make me change my ways (OK, so I’m stubborn even as I’m cowed).

Over time, I noticed that more open studio participants were using sketchbooks instead easels – some sketchbooks were even as small as the ones I use for location sketching. Today, I saw at least three artists using sketchbooks instead of easels. Maybe I’ve started a trend! (Ha-ha.)
3/14/13 Nero pencil, white water-soluble pencil, toned Strathmore paper (10 min)

Now about that foreshortened nose. I was digging around in my bag for my white pencil while the model got into position. The timer beeped to signal the start of the 10-minute pose, and when I looked up, I realized I would have to sketch straight up the model’s nostrils. Life-drawing studio: You gotta love it.


  1. The foreshortened drawing on the tan paper is gorgeous! You really nailed it, and I love the nose. I have been following your blog for quite some time and I have had a similar experience & frustration trying to learn to draw/sketch sooo many times and giving up soooo many times, too. As I follow your progress, ups & downs, and admire your commitment, it makes me want to take up my sketchbook and pencil again. :) I am seriosuly thinking about it! I think what I admire most is your unwavering commitment to the process (and I love your pen work and sense of color). It's very inspring, Tina!

    1. Thank you so much for your comments, Simple Living Blogger! I'm happy to hear that my blog inspires you. If you haven't already, please read Danny Gregory's The Creative License. I had to read it four times before it "stuck," but eventually the creative drive wins out over lifelong resistence. Please do take up your sketchbook again! Even one tiny sketch a day is better than none. Happy sketching -

      - Tina


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