01 August 2007

the figure group

Strathmore drawing, 10" x 14". 20 minutes.

this is a model i met at the weekly figure group, who came back on the circuit after a long break.

each model brings out some drawing tendencies or habits of hand more emphatically than others. this one had a radiant good cheer and a robust, healthy frame, graceful yet sturdy. working with her i focused especially on the contours, the ins and outs of musculature.

it is delightful to me how much mass and volume can be communicated through outline alone.

Strathmore drawing, 14" x 10". 15 minutes.

there is usually one pose or two each week that works as a portrait opportunity. what to say about portraits. once you get away from a photo reference, the portrait is a crisis of craftsmanship.

the common expectation is that the portrait should reveal something about the person, capture some essence. when i examined it, it seemed to me that prejudice is strongly influenced by the expression and the pose.

but expression and pose are not the face. i want a portrait as an alien would do it, looking at this life form and finding it inexplicable, unfathomable, uncanny. i don't want something classically anonymous, but something inward and unformed. smiles are a kind of narcotic that numb us to the mystery of individuality.

i've recently gotten very interested in the portrait problem. my idea is that each face is like a musical chord: the parts are all related by certain intervals (visual angles). i haven't worked out the solution. this week i sat with tivo and an episode of "Big Love" and did stop frame portrait sketches -- tĂȘtes d'expression in the academy tradition -- especially when the expression was emphatic or the head at an odd angle. i had to do several drawings two or three times to get it roughly right.

i don't like drawing hair, exactly; i'm more obsessed with it. it's fascinating to me how every person has dozens of little hair quirks -- flags, tendrils, knots, wads, lumps, balding tufts or flowing rivers of hair -- and i look for these as much as for traits of physiognomy. but, as you see, i haven't solved the problem of shading and modeling the hair.


W. K. Moore said...

Thx for posting these Bruce... and I admire the skill demonstrated in rendering a subject obviously important to your art experience. Figure drawing is so important when it comes to developing eye/hand coordination. I have found the more time devoted to figure workshops etc. the more facility I have when creating a solid beginning on which a new work relies.

Nick said...

excellent drawings, love the figure, the proportions look to be perfect

Prue said...

You write very well.