Treat Your Model Like a Well-Trained Pet

23 Aug 2011

I am kidding! So kidding! But I was thinking about this article and how I wanted to discuss working with a model, specifically how to position your model in a figure drawing, and what that position can convey both compositionally and as part of the narrative you are trying to present. In my mind, I broke down the positions into stand, sit, and lay down, all of which eerily reminded me of the commands I used to give my dog, Kosmo. But never mind that! Here are examples of three figure positions and what they are capable of suggesting.

Stand
When a figure stands upright there is a sense of alertness and potential for a variety of movements. Keep in mind the posture of the figure. The less rigid the spine and the more relaxed the limbs, the more at ease a figure appears. For a more dominant or forceful feel, making the body higher or taller, facing the viewer head-on, or spreading arms and legs to occupy more space can be effective.

Picnic by Anthony Ackrill, oil on canvas, 52 x 24. Pointing Figure by Rob Liberace, oil on board, 14 x 11, 2009.
Picnic by Anthony Ackrill,
oil on canvas, 52 x 24.

Pointing Figure by Rob Liberace,
oil on board, 14 x 11, 2009.

Sit
Depicting a figure sitting down is fairly conventional, so if you want the pose to imply something more, you'll want to play with how the figure turns, whether or not the legs and arms are crossed, and the angle of the chin. A sitting figure can also be interesting if you go to the extremes, making the limb arrangement really compact or compressing the figure's body, folding it in on itself, in a way that can energize a pose.

Catherine Inside by Kristin Kunc, oil on linen, 44 x 36, 2010.
Catherine Inside by Kristin Kunc,
oil on linen, 44 x 36, 2010.
Death on the Road
by Kathe Kollwitz, charcoal
drawing, 19 x 12.5, 1934.

Lay Down
A prone or supine figure is obviously going to suggest vulnerability, sleep or relaxation, sensuality, or carnality. Extending the limbs can accentuate the grace of the human form, and having the model lying on his or her side emphasizes this. Depicting a figure head-on brings in the complicating factor of severely foreshortened limbs.

Girl in Sun by Ben Fenske, oil on linen, 24 x 35, 2010. Sutherland Series #5 (Stretching) by Juliette Aristides, charcoal drawing, 15.5 x 21, 2005.
Girl in Sun by Ben Fenske,
oil on linen, 24 x 35, 2010.
Sutherland Series #5 (Stretching)
by Juliette Aristides, charcoal drawing,
15.5 x 21, 2005.

Figure drawing is one of the most intriguing, challenging, and exciting ways to pursue drawing. And the capablities of what the human body can convey are too numerous to count. But the more I learn, the more I want to know. Drawing the Figure in Motion with Rob Liberace has been a source of so much inspiring instruction for me involving honing my drawing skills, as are all the DVDs in the American Artist Drawing DVD Collection. I find myself reviewing the footage and material in them over and over, discovering something new and helpful every time! Enjoy,

 


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Comments

on 24 Aug 2011 11:21 AM

It sounds like you only hire the most fetching models. ;-)

Blackbird_61 wrote
on 24 Aug 2011 2:42 PM

So I should bring of bag of beef jerky cut into very small pieces.

My Beagle loves it! but then again, he's not particularly well behaved. :)