Monday, February 22, 2016

Digesting and Integrating

2/22/16 (1-min. pose)
It’s been a week since Mark Kang-O’Higgins’ Expressive Figure Drawing workshop, and I’m only just beginning to digest the concepts and techniques we learned. In addition, a few days ago I finished Suhita Shirodkar’s new Craftsy class, Figure Sketching Made Simple (highly recommended! It’s half price if you register through a link on Suhita’s blog), so her techniques for capturing people in motion have also been running through my head.

This morning in the life-drawing open session, I was trying to integrate what I had learned from both courses. Mark urged us to see and draw the body’s masses and volumes rather than lines. His emphasis on anatomy helped me see how muscles flex and relax in opposition – and how to capture that tension. He also instructed us to observe which leg is supporting the model’s weight and the angles of the shoulders and hips.

2/22/16 (2-min. pose)
Although Suhita’s course focuses on capturing human motion rather than posed models (in all of her demos, she sketches from videos, not photos), I could still apply her main principle of looking for the “line of action” to find where the figure’s weight is and the angles formed by the shoulders and hips. (A-ha! The same principle learned in Mark’s workshop!) Studying the economical brush pen lines Suhita uses to capture those lines of action, I realized that she is seeing exactly what Mark wanted us to see – volumes and masses rather than contours. So those are the things I tried to emulate this morning. (Look back at the life-drawing session I went to a couple weeks ago or the week before that – can you see a difference?)

Another point Mark stressed repeatedly was that regardless of the length of the pose, we should draw as if the pose is no more than a minute long. That is, even if a pose is five or 20 minutes long, we should capture the initial gesture quickly (like Suhita’s line of action), and then use the additional time to refine and add details. By always drawing as if we only have a minute, the initial gesture stays fresh. This lesson was very much counter to my usual life-drawing practice, which was to draw fast during short poses but take my time with longer poses. Today I took Mark’s lesson to heart and tried to keep each initial gesture short and fresh, no matter how much time I had.
2/22/16 (2-min. pose)

The drawing at the very end of this post shows one more tip I learned from Mark. After I finished the sketch, I could see that I had made the model’s upper arm longer than it should be, and I had to figure out where I had gone wrong. I recalled Mark’s “plumb line” tip, which is to find a point of reference (such as the nose) and draw a line straight down to see what it passes through. Sure enough, I had positioned the head incorrectly, which made the arm come out too long. If I had made those plumb lines while I was still taking measurements and putting in setup marks, I would have been able to correct the head’s position before drawing the arm, and the proportion probably would have been more accurate.

Now if I can just remember next time. . . !

2/22/16 (2-min. pose)
2/22/16 (10-min. pose)
2/22/16 (15-min. pose)


  1. Great balance in those sketches, Tina. I guess it's working. Constant relating of one part to the other, either in dropped verticals/horizontals or angled relationships really helps, and something I could be better at doing.

  2. Hallo Tina, I'm Mario from Milan, Italy. I'm reading usually your blog and today I'm very happy to do that, because I was thinking if buy the Suhita's course about Figure Sketching. I was dubious. But now you convinced me. Thanks.

    1. I'm happy that my post was useful to you, Mario! Thanks for letting me know.

      - Tina


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