took a life drawing class and showed my sketches to a friend, who's a
super-skilled painter. I was reluctant to share them, but when she looked at my
final sketch--in which the model had her hips contrapposto but twisted slightly
away from me with one arm across her chest and the other hanging at her side--she
said what I had been thinking all along: "That's a tough pose."
Standing Nude Back Study
by Sadie Valeri, 18 x 24, white chalk
and colored pencil on buff paper.
It was! It
had been really hard! The proportions I had come to count on when drawing
had sort of disappeared in this sketch because of the model's pose.
That's why I wanted to take this opportunity and go through how model poses can range
from the simple to the complex, so that if you are ever in a position to decide on the
life drawing pose you'll be sketching, you will go into knowing immediately if
you are working with a basic or more complicated pose.
Long shot. A pose that is comfortable to work
with in the beginning of your life drawing lessons could be a person standing
straight with arms at his or her side. That way you can most easily measure proportions
of arms and legs against the length of their body, and focus on the light and
shadow shapes on the body.
Bend it like...The complication factor of drawing
models is enhanced when arms or legs are bent in such a way that the limbs
appear foreshortened. It's the equivalent of landmarks disappearing, which
means you really have to see with your artist's eye. Abstract that bent knee or
folded arm so that you evaluate it as light and dark shapes, otherwise you'll
stay stumped-or end up with a stump-like me!
|Red chalk figure drawing by Robert Liberace,
detail, chalk on paper, 14 x 22.
I've found that the most complicated life drawing sketches I've
struggled with don't involve big movements like arms overhead or a body bent
over, but subtle moves like shoulders that are tilted back or hips that tilt
contrapposto. If you find yourself struggling with how to draw a model
repeatedly, it may be that there are a few subtle body positions that you are
overlooking. Step away and reassess, and I bet you'll pick up on something you
weren't aware of before.
are pursuing simple life drawings or ones of more complexity, you are doing the
right thing by making it a part of your practice. It will pay off big time when
you decide to start your art career, which is where Artist's Market Online
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