The Foundation of Figurative Art Is...

3 Jan 2013

In figure drawing and painting, knowing the ins and outs of the human body is essential. There's no way around that fact, and honing our skills with anatomy drawing helps us understand and truly see the body more accurately than any other endeavor.

Drawing by Stephen Schultz.
Drawing by Stephen Schultz.

I was flipping through one of my eye-candy books, The Perception of Appearance: A Decade of Contemporary American Figure Drawing, trying to figure out a way to convey the importance of human anatomy for artists. As I thumbed through the book, I saw so many different interpretations of the body. Some sketches, such as those by Stephen Schultz and Don Southard, were crudely drawn; others, by such artists as Kent Bellows and Stephen Assael, were more fully realized.

Some sketches were developed solely with line and contour as in the work of Charles Cajori while others from Fred Dalkey were hewn with gradation and shading and seemed to be carved out of the very paper they were drawn upon. But each drawing, no matter how it was rendered, belonged in the book because they all exhibited a strong knowledge of how to draw a human body.

Model Looking at the Light by Fred Dalkey, 2011, silver point drawing with sgrafitto, 9 5/16 x 7.
Model Looking at the Light by Fred Dalkey,
2011, silver point drawing with sgrafitto,
9 5/16 x 7.

That kind of skill can, of course, be interpreted differently--which the book clearly demonstrated--but if you don't have it, it shows. So as I sit here and wonder what I am gearing up for in 2013, know that learning more and more about drawing anatomy is foremost in my mind. There's no substitute for it and after seeing many skilled drawings of the human body, I realize that anatomy isn't just a linear subject to learn like a mathematical equation. It is a faceted key that fits many doors of artistic expression--and I want to walk through those doors with my own art and explore different ways of drawing and painting. We should never feel limited in terms of our creativity, and for an artist, knowing anatomy is a way of assuring that doesn't happen.    

The DVD Anatomy for Artists: The Human Form Revealed is a great place to start your explorations of how to draw a human body or to brush up on your knowledge of human anatomy for artists. It takes on an essential area of art from the artist's perspective and makes exploring anatomy drawing a focused endeavor as you strengthen your skills. Enjoy!


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Anatomy for Artists The Human Form Revealed 2nd Edition

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A great guide for artists learning or wanting to hone their life drawing skills, Anatomy for Artists DVD with host Larry Withers is directed specifically with the artist in mind.

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