Susan Lyon's figure drawings truly set her apart
artistically and are the foundation and preparation for all she creates as an
oil painter. If you ask her why, it is a drawing's immediacy, directness, and
drama that are the ideal conduits for her creative sensibilities and in her
opinion these provide the best way to capture the many facets of the human
Lofton by Susan Lyon, 2008,
drawing, 16 x 14. Adapted from an
article by Allison Malafronte.
Lyon's exposure to human figure drawing
started with her
exposure and exploration of the drawings of John Singer Sargent and Nicolai
Fechin, particularly the dramatic light-and-shadow patterns in their artworks
that reminded Lyon of old Hollywood movies. To hone her skills for drawing
figures, the artist attended life-drawing classes and short-pose sessions during
her studies at the American Academy of Art and the Palette & Chisel Academy
of Fine Arts, both in Chicago.
At first, Lyon was intimidated in these situations,
particularly when creating figure drawings very quickly. "I dreaded the
quick-pose sessions because I couldn't get myself to slow down...it seems
counter-intuitive to say that you have to slow down in a quick-sketch class, but
for the first time I was being forced to really observe and think about what I
was drawing before putting pencil to paper."
What she once dreaded, Lyon now views as an asset in her
working method, and she encourages other artists to devote a lot of time to
quick figure sketching as a result. "It really forces you to simplify and think
in terms of basic shapes and values. The ideal situation would be for the model
to move whenever he or she wants," she says.
Twisted Figure by
Susan Lyon 2008, conte drawing, 14 x 16.
So go grab a stopwatch or look at your phone and start
drawing--anything and everything, but especially figure sketches--quickly and
with a few clear details involved in the work. Remember to draw with a light
touch and take your time measuring proportions, just like Lyon does, and you'll
find your figure drawings improve dramatically.
For more on understanding what makes a difference when
drawing figures and how to make drawing a significantly important part of your
process, consider a subscription to Drawing
magazine. Every issue is cover-to-cover resource that I find myself referring
to again and again. I hope it is the same for you! Enjoy your subscription!