Drawing Basics–The Transition from Copying to Creating
I suggested in my previous blog that the difference between an excellent draftsperson versed in anatomy, perspective, elements of drawing and all the other disciplines needed to produce a realistic, believable figure drawing and an artist is that the latter uses the realistic, believable figure drawing as a tool to make a statement. One could say that the draftsperson makes a copy of what he is looking at, while the artist uses what he's looking at to create.
Everyone can learn to draw. And fairly fast. Of course the more time one spends practicing the faster the results arrive. Just like learning a new language. Have to learn the letters, grammar and words before one can make coherent sentences. The equivalent of this stage in figure drawing would be the ability to draw a nice, realistic, believable copy of a model.
But apart from being able to ask where the post office is and comment on good weather, there's a lot more to interaction in the newly learnt language. Exchanging ideas, being playful, making and understanding a joke, making a point. The same applies to figure drawing. Once we are able to copy what we see by applying basic rules that can be learned and practiced, we can take the next step.
When I teach figure drawing, I tell the students right at the start that in the second half of the course, about four weeks in, that I want them to cross over from copying only to partly creating. Let me explain on the following example.
Modelling is not easy and the models get tired sitting in a pose for 20 minutes. That's not surprising, all kinds of hidden pains and cramps surface just after a few minutes. So what the models often do is they rely on their skeletal structure to hold them up in overextended positions. A prime example of this is the hyper extension of the elbow. It becomes bent a bit over the limit of what it should be. It's not painful, but it looks unnatural.
|Overextended limbs can look awkward in a figure drawing, so it is up to the artist
to go from copying to creating and adapting beyond the model's pose.
Now that you are looking at a photo, you just accept it as it is. It is a photo. But imagine an exact realistic drawing of those elbows and cramped fingers. That just would not look right. Armed with the knowledge of anatomy we can take the next step and use the model and the pose as an inspiration and change the existing pose to create a position in which the elbow looks different.
|A figure drawing by Robert Stollar.|
Of course there may be occasions when to create means using an extended elbow, but to train oneself into more creating and storytelling figure drawing rather than just copying opens up a whole new world of possibilities. According to some experts up to 93% of our communication is non verbal. Body language, facial expressions and gestures are used to create a statement.
And what is that statement? That's up to each and every one of us alone. It is what we want to communicate to the rest of the society. Of course the kind of figure drawing that does this as well takes longer to master. In fact it is a lifelong effort, but it takes you places where you get to know yourself that much better.