Tag Archives: Life drawing

Drawing Hands

Alan Reed

Hand Drawing in Moleskine Sketchbook

Following on from my recent blog post about the benefits of regular life drawing, I’m aware that it’s not always easy or practical getting along to a life drawing class. However one simple thing that most of us can do is have a go at drawing hands.

My “warming up” exercises vary from quick self portraits to copying John Singer Sargent portraits. On occasion though I will do a quick study of my left hand which is what you can see here.

Here’s a couple of short time lapse videos of some pen and ink drawings that I did recently in my Moleskine sketchbook using a Shaeffer Fountain pen containing sepia ink.

If you want to add further interest to your drawing, use an angle poise lamp to create shadows from your fingers which will add depth to your study.

To get greater variation to the positioning of the hand then you will need to use a mirror to draw the reflection of the hand.

You can see an example of my hand drawn from being reflected
in a mirror at the end of this video.

If you are drawing hands on a regular basis you will start to see an improvement in your drawing generally. The important thing is to keep practising and not give up.

As Michelangelo once said “Work hard and don’t on any account neglect your drawing’. 

Alan Reed

“Thumbs Up” Pen and Ink Sketch in Moleskine Sketchbook

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Life Drawing

Alan Reed

Detail of Figure Painting

One cannot underestimate the importance to the artist of regular drawing, particularly when painting the human form. Don’t just take my word for it. Here are a few quotes from some of the experts:

“Work hard and don’t on any account neglect your drawing. Draw Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and don’t waste time”. Michelangelo.

“Do not fail, as you go on, to draw something every day, for no matter how little it is it will be worth while, and you will do a world of good.” Cennino Cennini from The Craftsman’s Handbook c 1400.

“You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.” John Singer Sargent.

With this in mind I like to work on Life Drawing studies on a regular basis. Whenever possible I prefer to work on a single pose for at least an hour to two hours to give myself a chance to resolve the figure proportions as well as capturing the pose, tonal values and form.

Once the Life Drawing pose has been established and the model is comfortable I use the “Sight Size” method to ensure I can fit the whole pose on a tinted canvas board, usually 16″ x 12″.

Alan Reed

Figure Painting on Canvas

I then begin to “draw” with the brush using a thin mix of Yellow Ochre, Light Red and Lamp Black. I’ll use this colour to block in the darker shadow areas, using the tinted board colour as a half tone. As soon as I feel I’ve captured the pose I then begin to paint in the highlights using a flesh tone made up of Lead White together with the same Yellow Ochre and Light Red.

The painting can look quite monochromatic like Figure Painting No 2 as it’s more important to get the tonal values right than the colour.

During this stage it’s important to keep all the edges soft, almost slightly out of focus because after the model takes a break, they may not be able to resume the pose in exactly the right position. I sometimes go over the painting with a piece of kitchen roll or a dry brush to achieve these soft edges. It’s at this point that I also aim to capture a likeness with the portrait which you can see in Figure Painting No 1.

Notice also in the detail of No 1 the mix of hard edges and softer, more blurred edges.

Alan Reed

Detail of Figure Painting No 1

 

After an hour the model needs a twenty minute break. When you step away from the painting and review your work afresh you begin to see areas that need immediate attention. Once corrections have been attended to it’s time to start refining some of the shapes and building up the colour, particularly on the flesh tones where there is strong light.

Alan Reed

Figure Painting No 1

On Figure Painting No 1 above you can see how the tinted background has also been used as a flesh tone, particularly on the models thigh.

It’s also in the final stages of the sitting that I often load the brush with the lighter flesh tone which I’ve been using and begin to describe the form and muscles of the nude with some more direct, expressive brush marks. On the Figure Painting below of a male model I’ve used long, fluid strokes throughout the pose, especially on his right thigh.

Alan Reed

Figure Painting No 8

The detail photograph below shows the tinted canvas tone coming through to describe highlights on his hair. It’s this combination of thin areas of paint verses thicker applications of paint, hard edges verses softer edges, loose brush marks verses more detailed areas that help to create a study of the human form that is engaging for the viewer on so many levels.

I’ve added several of my figurative oil painting studies from my Life Drawing sessions to my website which are available to purchase online and from my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

Alan Reed

Detail of Figure Painting No 8

 

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Mother with Child

Pregnant woman

Mother with Child

Life drawing is a discipline that has huge rewards if practised on a regular basis. Unfortunately I don’t  spend anywhere near enough time painting and drawing the human form from life as I would like but I do try to attend an evening life drawing class once a week. It’s only on for two hours (Probably only 90 minutes painting with breaks) and we have a different model with a different pose each week.

If it’s a long pose, I will tackle it in oils so I can work on colour as well as form. The pose of the pregnant young woman Louise titled Mother with Child has been the only time when we actually had her back the following week in the same pose! I had the rare opportunity to refine and correct my efforts from the previous week.

The painting “Mother with Child” is part of my Spring exhibition at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland which continues until 28th April.

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