|Back II (Joshua) by Martha Mayer Erlebacher,
2003, oil on canvas, 42 x 42.
The human body is beautiful—as a whole and in its parts. Body drawings that accentuate the sensuous lines of the body and the power of the human form are steeped in a knowledge of anatomy. But the body is a complex machine with, again, many parts and an infinite variety of positions in which it can sit, stand, and lay.
I love learning more and more about how to draw the human body, but it is a tough process too! So I’ve made a promise to myself: I’m going to learn drawing anatomy and figure drawing based on the body parts that I find sexy and go from there!
I’m a back and hands girl myself, so my first approach was to look at human figure drawings that zero in on these parts. There are Old Masters like Michelangelo and Leonardo to consider as well as the works of more contemporary artists like Martha Erlebacher and Rob Liberace.
|Red chalk figure, detail by Rob Liberace,
chalk on paper, 14 x 22.
For the back, the toughest part for me is really seeing all the musculature. In a gesture drawing, I’d put one fluid line down the center to mark the dip of the spine and leave it at that. But I’m trying to learn to see the subtle shift and play of bones and skin by drawing models. Positioning them in certain ways that accentuate the vertebrae and muscles of the back is a super helpful way to start.
Oh, how to draw hands! These are tough. There are so many minute muscles, bones, and tissues that make up the hands that drawing the anatomy of them can be really confusing. I’ll go over one passage, leave it, then go back and change everything because I see more and more visual information. To stop from shredding my paper, I’ve tried to stay focused on getting the gesture of the hand right and to pay attention to the different textures of the hands—smooth here, creased there—treating them almost like a landscape.
We’ve got a veritable library of great resources on anatomy specifically for the artist, starting with Dan Thompson’s Figure Drawing: The Gesture that focuses on the human body. It’s what I’ve been watching to figure out the human body with an artist’s eye and right now with the April Fool’s No Joke—No Strings Attached coupon code NOJOKE50, you can have that same experience at a great deal of 50% off, but act fast as the coupon is valid just for today. Enjoy!
P.S. What body parts turn you on–for your art? Leave a comment and let me know. And keep it clean, people!