Tag Archives: sketch

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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Drawing Camels

Drawing from Observation

Drawing of Camels

I thought I’d begin my first blog post of 2013 featuring Drawing Camels by wishing you all God’s blessings for 2013 and by sharing one of my favourite quotes from the American artist John Singer Sargent:

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

It’s a statement which every artist will benefit from if applied on a regular basis. Varying the subject matter (sketch everything) gives you a deeper appreciation of shape, form, line composition and tone. Drawing from observation not only helps one’s hand to eye co-ordination, but also helps to increase one’s visual awareness in a way which taking photographs or simply “just looking” does not.

Last year some friends gave a present of two rather unusual sculptured camels, made from what seems to be leather. Over the last few evenings I’ve taken to Drawing Camels in my moleskine sketchbook. These amazing creatures have been beautifully crafted in leather. I’ve used a fibre tip italic pen to draw with which has enabled me to vary the thickness of the line.

You can see that I’ve started off with a very light, delicate thin line to get the basic outline and then intensified it when I’ve been happy with the overall shape and shadow areas. I’ve painted  a more finished watercolour of camels which has also been published as a limited edition print.

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Spanish Gypsy Dancer – John Singer Sargent

Spanish Gypsy Dancer by John Singer Sargent

Alan Reed’s copy of Spanish Gypsy Dancer by John Singer Sargent

Last week I was hand delivering an original painting in Glasgow. I decided to check out a couple of paintings by John Singer Sargent which are part of the Glasgow Museum‘s collection, Mrs George Batten singing and Sir David Richmond. Both are outstanding portraits, very much typical of Sargent’s repetoire. Seeing them close up gave me a deeper appreciation of his expressive brush strokes and masterful use of a limited palatte. I hope to feature these paintings in a future blog post about Sargent’s work but for now I’ve decided to feature a recent oil painting study I made of John Singer Sargent’s Spanish Gypsy Dancer.

There are two known versions of this sketch by Sargent, both of which can be seen in the magnificent book ” 1874-1882″ by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray. I decided to make an observational oil painting study of the less finished of the two paintings, both of which were approximately 18″ x 11″. I painted mine slightly smaller, oil on board, using a similar limited palette to Sargent and the same observational methods. Sargent himself was known to have made his own copies of several of the great masters including Velazquez and Frans Hals. It’s a very helpful way to help discover the painting techniques that some of the finest painters have used which one can then adapt on one’s own pieces. Very little has been written about Sargent’s painting methods, however by looking closely at his brush marks and reading some of the sitting accounts written by his clients, one can get a good idea of how he worked. I will elaborate on this when I have more of my own examples to explain more clearly.

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