Part 4 The figure and the head

Project 4 Structure – Exercise 1 The structure of the human body

For reference in this part of the course, I studied ‘Drawing the nude – Structure, anatomy and observation’ by Stuart Elliot and looked through Taschen’s book on Egon Schiele for inspiration on line:

Egon Schiele – Nude girl with black hair, standing (1910), Watercolour and pencil

This for me is a very delicate, emotional drawing – the girl has an innocent look, Schiele’s line of the hands, elbow, ribs LHS and hips uses skeletal landmarks and profiles to add life to his drawing.  The wash in the rib cage also adds more emphasis to the skeleton beneath the skin.

My own studies using parts of my own body were more successful than the few copies I made of other drawings:








Obviously, I need to keep practicing my line drawings and improve on my observational skills – this a lifetime of learning/practicing – but I have found an area of drawing that I enjoy: the figure and portraits.

Research point – Historic and contemporary artists whose work involves the underlying structure of the body

Two immediate artists spring to my mind when thinking about historic artists – that of Leonardo da Vinci whose studies on human form and the underlying structure including bones, veins and muscles etc. are extremely famous. The other is Michelangelo whose work I have seen in the flesh! I have seen his sculptures which have such impressive form showing veins, muscles and bones on the skins (stone) surface – so real you would have to touch them to realise that they are cold and really stone not flesh. He achieves a sense of weight and pose that is beyond belief – I adore his work. In his drawings he achieves similar artistic representation using minimal use of line.

In his short life, Egon Schiele was able to achieve a high degree of accuracy in his line drawings which show bones – skeletal landmarks and facial expressions using a limited palette of colour, thin wash of watercolour/ink and expressive line. (see above)

An interesting contemporary artist I found online is David Oliviera, … his work includes wire sculptures of the structure of the body and drawings/paintings of skin/skeletal elements:


An interesting cross-over between drawing and sculpture.

Exercise 2 – Three figure drawings

I used my own body for these drawings and instead of drawing three poses as in the exercise brief, I chose to make a standing pose – nude, and then a series of seated poses semi-nude:


Male nude standing, Graphite on mylar (105x75cm)

Working from life is certainly very different from using photos or internet videos. Its a shame that I could not find a life class nearby.

I used both shading and line to emphasize form, skeletal outlines/profiles and with hindsight noticed that my left shoulder was drawn too large and that my left knee was too low. In general I was happy with the drawing and especially liked the effect of the large graphite block on mylar.  To improve the drawing further, I could have corrected some of the lines and improved upon the shading/tonal contrast.

My second drawing was in fact three versions of me sitting down at my easel on a high stool – an idea that came from the earlier pencil sketch – see above:

Seated male – semi nude, Black acrylic ink and pencil on fabriano paper. 105x75cm

The centre drawing was made using my left hand to make the initial outlines in pencil. I  found that making these drawings was a little awkward as it was difficult to keep my hand moving – drawing – and maintaining the poses. It would obviously be easier with a live model in front of me.

Detail to show pencil outlines of neck and arm


Detail of RH figure

Whilst the structure, pose, form and weight were satisfactory and did in fact (as commented by my wife) represent me – I was too heavy in my use of ink. In some places it could have been omitted and left as just pencil line, or I could have been more careful in the tone and weight of line – a big challenge ahead!





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