|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.
And I'm also watching way more TV to learn human anatomy
drawing. We've got a veritable library of great DVD resources on anatomy
specifically for the artist. Man in
Motion, The Human Head, and The Human Form Revealed are what I've
been reaching for to figure out the human body with an artist's eye. I hope it
is the same for you! Enjoy!
P.S. What body parts turn you on--for your art? Leave a comment and let me know. And keep it clean, people!