Free Online Drawing Lessons

Hello everyone. Great news!

The first part of the new Free Online Drawing Resource is now ready. Introducing extra material has changed the website design and layout a bit, which means things have slightly moved around. I believe, the new navigation will be easy to use. I have placed the warning of nude content on the first page that loads (animated intro), and viewing of the Disclaimer is now optional as a pop up window. Clicking on “Learn To Draw With” and/or “The Ultimate Figure Drawing Course” are links to enter the site. All the pages now have a navigation bar at the top for quick access to everything.
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The “Home” page starts the free education section of the site. In the column on the left, below your testimonials are also the links to all the articles and video tutorials of the free “Introduction To Drawing”. This also gives a visual sense of the structure of these tutorials. The links in orange are live and have content.
Screen-Shot-2014-10-06-at-16.35_woptIn the last article (“Drawing Step By Step”) I have published the list of the planed free online drawing lessons. As you will see on the site, the list of these articles and video tutorials has slightly changed. The change, however, is not in content. Only in form. If I felt some of the topics were related or even dependent on each other in terms of learning to draw, I grouped them under a single topic. So everything you asked for is still there, or coming soon, as it has been announced.

In the same article I also said it will take some time to compile all the lessons, articles and videos. However, the first of the 5 groups of tutorials is ready and so I chose to release these, so those who want to, can start. The rest of the 5 groups will follow progressively.

In the menu bar, the “Learning” tab is for the free “Introduction To Drawing”, and the “Courses” tab is for the paid Figure Drawing Online Course. The “Free Stuff” tab has the free stuff not belonging to the “Introduction To Drawing”. Among these are the “Common Mistake” videos, the cut down versions of the 13 lectures and “Work In Progress”.

I have also decided to stop selling the “Lecture 0 – Where To Start” as many of the concepts it contains are now explained (or will be soon) in the free “Introduction To Drawing”.

The website is up and running and I am still testing all the links, so please, if you find something not working, let me know. Enjoy!

Ohhh, yes…and there’s another bit of good news coming in a couple of days. ;–))

Figure Drawing Workshop

Those of you living in and around Broken Hill might be interested to know I will be teaching a Figure Drawing Workshop on Saturday 28 June 2014 at The Regional Art Gallery. If you’d like to brush up your figure drawing skills and clear up any challenging areas this is a good opportunity. To reserve your seat, contact Ian Howarth at the Gallery.

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Magic Persists

This happens every time a course is nearing it’s end. And every single time it finds me unprepared.
Usually I focus the first half of the 8 sessions to get the basics, to allow everyone to absorb the simple concepts. This not only creates a great foundation to build upon, it also allows students to experience almost instant success.
After the 4 sessions I am infusing the decision making process with a start of creative process. This will build a bridge to cross over from copying what we see to using what we see as an expressive tool to make a visual statement. I ask the students to make adjustments to the pose if needed. By about the second last session this process takes hold and amazing things start happening. Pure creative magic. And every time it finds me unprepared.

Here are some of the students work from last night:
IMG_7015_weboptObserve in the image above the freshness of the expression. This is, I believe a 1 minute pose. Since there is no time to get lost in the details a beautiful leap forward happens in terms of massing. This drawing is not anatomically correct but the body parts in relation to each other are in perfect expressive harmony. You can feel the model’s tension in the pose where muscular strength is applied to hold it. The thrust of the upper body creating a counter weight to the legs hinging on the pelvis. The rhythmic change from the rib cage through the neck to the skull is hugely expressive. You can hear her saying: “I can hold this. you just get on with it.” Beautiful!

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This one above is a great example of a foreshortening problem correction. You see the moment you place something on the paper, regardless where on the body you start, you have set out the proportion for the drawing. Everything else that follows is ( or at least supposed to be ) in correct spatial and proportional relationship with what’s already there. If you don’t do that, and you like to look of the second part better, you have to erase the first part to make it work again. So drawing the whole body while rendering only a part of it is essential.

The student here had a foreshortening problem with the upper body. The pelvis was nice so I took that as the proportional set out. That was the given size, position, thrust and mass of the pelvis which was not to change. Now to make this body to lie down I related the rib cage, including the connection to the pelvis via the external oblique and rectus abdominis, then the shoulder girdle with the upper arm and finally the head to create a single body. Regardless of the likeness (or lack thereof) to the model, the body parts properly related to each other give back a human body in a readable position where the spatial plane and basic gravity applies and thus makes the body feel real. The only thing tricky about foreshortening is that while you do the above process, at the very same time you also have to do the proper sequence of overlapping. This is a spatial description of which body part is in the front of the others and therefore overlaps them. The rest fall in place by itself.

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The other part of the magic that happens is that the students, by now developing enough confidence to achieve what they want in the 10 minute pose, have enough space left to experiment with developing their very own style. That’s why I never ever talk or teach or suggest anything about “correct” proportions. This is one of the very pitfalls of contemporary art teaching. “The figure has to be 7 or 8 or 9 heads tall” – rubbish! The figure has to have the exact proportions YOU, the artist decide you like. Nothing else matters. You are the one holding the pencil. You are the one taking the responsibility for your creation. No misguided art critic / teacher can ever tell you what is it YOU like. Only YOU can.

You can see in the drawing above that once there was an acceptable level of massing and relational harmony, the pull towards expression was unstoppable. It had to happen. The soul needs to speak. And one way or other, it will. It’s just so much nicer when it happens through art!

Broken Hill Alert

For those of you living in the Broken Hill region, please note, the Figure Drawing Course will start at the end of January 2014. If you want to have your say in the day of the week, starting time and start of the course itself, go to the Masterclass page and email me your choices by Monday, 13 January 2014.
The number of students is limited to 10 per class so that I can spend enough time with each of you. Those of you who came along to the demo session in December know what’s in store for you and how exciting drawing gets. So if you wish to do the course, grab a seat. See you all very soon.

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Work In Progress Continues

Hello everyone,

We continue with the second episode of this new series about figure drawing workflow. The part of the process I really wanted to share, is working out the composition. A kind of “go with the flow” process where one doesn’t have to worry about how a body looks in a certain position. The whole sum of the lectures I sell are geared towards this point. The lectures provide the knowledge of anatomy while teach how to go about massing, planes, plane breaks, how to find and observe landmarks, how to use simple devices like contour lines and so on. They help to build a visual library of the human body one can then use to create.
So here is the second free video. Enjoy!

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Work In Progress Free Video

Hello everyone,

I’m working on a figurative composition which will end up as a quite large (70cm x 100cm) pen and ink drawing in a style similar to the ones you can find here. It is going to be fairly complex, involving a number of figures. All of these will have to be designed and developed in terms of anatomy and expression.
001_work_in_progressSo I thought it might be useful to show you the process I use which will also demonstrate what I called in one of the earlier blog entries as the “flow”. Here it is:

“Once you have absorbed all that can be had from the beginners course and then you follow through with the advanced course, the place I would like you all to get to, is having so much knowledge stored up that you can entirely concentrate on the creative process. This doesn’t mean you get a highly polished anatomically correct drawing every time you put your pencil to paper. The place I am talking about is being able to be in the flow. Being able to rough out your composition and change things on the fly without having to worry about anatomy, massing, perspective and all the elements of drawing.
The tremendous power of this type of work is that it shapes and refines your own style. I repeat this because this is so important: This way, you will develop and refine your OWN STYLE. No more copying. You have to realise that in the whole wide universe there is only one copy of each of you. Nobody, NOBODY! can draw the way you draw as long as you develop your own style. That style is unique and cannot be copied. The internal energy of your stroke (developed in time) of your view and your aesthetics (arrived at through your very own life experience) can NOT be replicated. And that, is called Figure Drawing.”

So here comes the first free video in this series. If you have any questions, just post them as comments.

Free Lessons Continue

Hello everyone, hope you’ve been drawing while I was busy elsewhere. As always, supporting those who wish to learn, here is the next instalment of the Common Mistakes series, both as a blog entry and of course, also as a video on the website. This episode is about an essential part of massing:

The Loss Of Volume
As you progress with your studies of the human body and the ways of drawing it, you will keep coming back to a very few of the basic principles. It is hard to think of them when one picks up the pencil and that is the reason for practicing drawing. When these principles become our second nature we no longer have to think about them, we’re just in for the ride. For the joy of it.
You heard me say this many, many times and I will repeat it still, it is so important. Massing is one of the cornerstones of figure drawing. For those of you who are new to the idea, massing is the way of converting complex shapes of an object – in our case the human body, into simple geometric shapes one is then able to think of. Once you can think of the shape, you are able to make decisions about it’s shape, size, orientation and relationship to the other shapes next to it.
You need anatomy. No question about it. The bones, muscles and tendons become part of your toolbox. But, when drawing a finger, one doesn’t start with remembering the boring anatomy lesson on how the first phalanx connects to the metacarpal via the articular facet of it’s superior extremity. If that was what artist are required to do no art would have ever seen the light of the day.

You start by simplifying. You imagine the finger as a cylinder. We all know what a cylinder looks like. (If you need to practice cylinders [very good exercise] lay down a bottle of wine and study the shape.) Seeing the finger as a cylinder, you can very fast determine which way it is facing, whether it is pointing at you or someone else. You can easily see it’s size. And then you lightly indicate this cylinder on the paper. Without any details, knuckles, nails, wrinkles….without any of those it immediately looks like a finger. Then you do the same way the next finger. Then the palm of the hand. With that one you might want to switch from the shape of a cylinder to that of a box. And so on. Once you massed your figure lightly, you can start remembering all those details you learnt in anatomy. But by then the essence of the figure, it’s proportions and expression is captured with lively speed. That is Massing.

Now that we have remembered and established that bit, we can focus on this episode’s content. We will continue with a very important concept which is part of the massing. The loss of volume.
The easy way to explain it, is through the rib cage. We place our observations of the body mainly on the bony structure because it doesn’t change. Muscles tend to shift and when not contracted they tend to (literally) hang off the bone. Rib cage is one of those bony structures we rely on. It is also the one that changes the most. After all it flattens and expands with every single breath we take. The change is very small so the rib cage remains just as reliable a road guide as any other bone in the body. The concept says that no volume can disappear from the body. The volume can shift, change shape, but it cannot disappear.

You can see in the following drawing by one of my students what happens, when you allow for the volume to be lost. The drawing is quite nice, there is a marked attempt at massing. The head is conceived as a ball in perspective, both of the deltoids are seen as balls and so is the left buttock. But then, traveling down the torso, the rib cage is suddenly not taken into account and this mistake gets passed on the position of the external oblique as well as the pelvis and the buttocks with it. Moreover the size of the pelvis gets distorted. From about below the scapulae it becomes a different drawing. There are now two bodies artificially joined.
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From this point on to fix the lower part of the drawing you have two possibilities. Either you decide the left hand side drawing of the rib cage is correct and you change the right side or vice versa. Either way you reclaim the volume of the rib cage.
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The following drawing is where loss of volume of the rib cage occurs most frequently. In the reclining nude. Various problems surface here, perspective, foreshortening, proportions getting away by the time we get to the right knee, however most of the problems disappear if the volume of the rib cage is reclaimed.
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The video counterpart of this blog entry has extra content. Also some of the concepts can be understood better if you see them drawn. You can find it here.

 

Advanced Course and much more for much less.

What’s Coming
I have a few announcements to make. First of all, the common mistakes series still has a few episodes in store. While finishing the series, I already started to work on the Advanced Course. Now this is going to be a high quality series of videos geared towards the ultimate goal of figure drawing: Creation.

While the beginners course concentrates on the basic principles of figure drawing as well as basic anatomy, the advanced course takes everything a notch higher. The focus is no longer on copying the model we see. The focus is on using the knowledge gained from the beginners course as a tool to create the figures that already populate your conscious and unconscious mind.
Once you have absorbed all that can be had from the beginners course and then you follow through with the advanced course, the place I would like you all to get to, is having so much knowledge stored up that you can entirely concentrate on the creative process. This doesn’t mean you get a highly polished anatomically correct drawing every time you put your pencil to paper. The place I am talking about is being able to be in the flow. Being able to rough out your composition and change things on the fly without having to worry about anatomy, massing, perspective and all the elements of drawing.
Once you have your composition, then you can worry about the details, the lighting, the correct proportions, the exact anatomy.

The tremendous power of this type of work is that it shapes and refines your own style. I repeat this because this is so important: This way, you will develop and refine your OWN STYLE. No more copying. You have to realise that in the whole wide universe there is only one copy of each of you. Nobody, NOBODY! can draw the way you draw as long as you develop your own style. That style is unique and cannot be copied. The internal energy of your stroke (developed in time) of your view and your aesthetics (arrived at through your very own life experience) can NOT be replicated. And that, is called Figure Drawing.

So, now that you know the plan, here is how I propose to do it:

For those who have already started the beginners course I want to make the rest of it more affordable. For those who are new to the course I want to make the course more affordable outright. Why? I want you to start it and finish it. I want you to progress to the Advanced Course. I want you to get to the FLOW. So, you see, I have my ulterior motives.

Everything on the Figure Drawing Online website, EVERYTHING has a 25% discount. All you have to do is to type the word: SaLE in the discount voucher space at the checkout and click Recalculate. The amount will change applying 25% discount. And that’s it. Go through the checkout as usual. If you order the DVD version or the PC/MAC version which has to arrive in the mail, the postage and handling is not discounted.

Building a knowledge exchange

Hello everyone,

Quite a few of you who bought at least one Lecture will have noticed that I finally got around to add your blog membership with a “contributor” privileges. This is good stuff. I was never meant to be the only contributor. The dream was to build a place where you guys can show your work, exchange knowledge, contribute in comments or ideas, publish what you come across daily in your artwork. Upload a scan of your drawing you are battling with so that someone who has made their own discoveries already can help to point out (in the case of my artwork often) the obvious.

I know that none of you denies the importance of art and its impact it makes every day on all of us. Well, this is the space to support those ideas, to bring up issues. It is up to us, the practicing and budding artists alike to forge ahead and stay connected. To bring forth the hidden, to explore and question.

Hope to see you around and: Happy Drawing!

Robert
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Common Mistakes – 004 Deceit of the Shoulder Girdle

In this episode of Common Mistakes all of which can be easily fixed once pointed out, we will continue with a very important concept. It is the concept of the shoulder girdle. In order to understand what we deal with, we will need to endure a bit of anatomy. Now it’s not going to be a comprehensive coverage of the shoulder. We did all of that in the lecture on the shoulder you can purchase or alternatively you can watch the free 10 minutes long cutdown version of this 1.5 hours long lecture here.

The following drawing depicts the construction of the shoulder girdle which consists in terms of bones of the two clavicles in the front and two scapulae in the back. These four bones are not fused, they are joined and held together with ligaments and tissue. This allows for a great freedom of movement. Just what we need to assist to our arms to be able to reach almost anywhere.
image1Now that we have seen this, lets remember what we talked about in the very first episode of the Common Mistakes – massing is everything in figure drawing. Massing is King. No massing, no drawing.

We also mentioned in passing, that we usually start with large forms and then add the smaller adjacent forms as well as fill in the smaller forms embedded in the larger mass. This order is crucial, as any possible detail you see on the model is just that. A detail, and in the great scheme of figure drawing, whilst it ads embellishment, it is a slave to the larger mass and it cannot do anything else but to follow. So if you don’t get the large mass right, the detail will be in the wrong place anyway.

Ok, so we start drawing and we remember we need to do the massing of the large body parts such as the rib cage and pelvis. You do these two masses correctly and you’re half way there. So you may choose to start with the rib cage. Remember how we do massing? We look for clues and landmarks that will gives us reference as to the position of what we already know from anatomy – the shape, size and construction of the rib cage. And we just arrived at the common mistake. Most of us will try to determine the position, rotation and orientation of the rib cage with the aid of shoulders. This is the common deceit of the shoulder girdle. By nature, the shoulder girdle is a floating device that sits atop of the rib cage and a has a fluid life of it’s own very different to the semi rigid rib cage. Lets have a look what would be the right way to go about finding the rib cage in this model:
image2So there it is. Remember to orient yourself by the bony bits for landmarks and clues which will help you to reference what you already know from anatomy. The exception to this rule is not to use the shoulders to reference the rib cage.

The video counterpart of this blog entry has extra content which works better as a video. You can find it here.

Specials

Hello everyone,

I have introduced the “Specials” – a discount system where different Lectures will be less expensive for a period of time. The specials will be based on a “refund” system where you pay the full price for a Lecture and then within 48 hrs I will refund a certain amount via Paypal.
What is less expensive, when and by how much will be announced on the home page, in left upper corner.

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So look out for the Specials as they get updated. Hope this will help everyone a bit.

Common Mistakes – 002 The Arm On The Side

Hello everyone, here is the second blog entry discussing the common mistakes we all make and how to look out for them so that our progress can be faster and less frustrating. Most of these blog entries are accompanied by yet another free video resource you can find at www.figuredrawingonline.com in the Free Stuff section. These are especially useful to those who are doing it on their own and have nobody to bounce their ideas of.

In the last entry I talked about Massing, this one is about the position of the Arm. The simplest and most common mistake we all make as we learn to draw the human form is to separate the arm from the body and then re-attach it. That way the arm becomes quite unnatural in its shape and size in relation to the torso. Have a look at the following drawing.

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I’ll concentrate only on the arms in the image above. Both the arms are placed outside of the body. That’s what is causing the too much muscle on the arm on the left and positions too far away the arm on the right. This also creates the unnatural horizontal line on top of the right shoulder.
The best way how to explain this is to show you the position of the humerus bone (upper arm) as it connects with the scapula looking straight down on the body. As you can see in the image below, the scapulae which are part of the shoulder girdle just glide over the rib cage allowing for a great range of movement for the arm. The humerus meets the scapula in a shallow housing which is positioned to the front and to the outside rather than to the side of the body.

The next quick sketch shows what should really happen in the previous drawing:

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Lets have a look at one more drawing. This one depicts a sitting person viewed fron the front. The same problem presents itself and the solution results in the same mistake. The arm on the left is already positioned quite far towards the outside of the body as the extremely prolongated top of the shoulder shows, yet, it doesn’t seem to be far enough as none of the muscles can be fitted on the arm which therefore becomes extremely slim. We are facing a dilema. If we position the arm further out to the side, the shoulder becomes too long. If we correct the length of the shoulder, the arm grows even more emaciated.

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The solution, again, is in the correct position of the arm, which in this view would be sitting to the front and to the outside, rather than just be attached to the body from the side. Have a look at the following quick sketch that rectifies this problem.

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So the next time you draw an arm, remember that it is not attached to the side of the body. It is part of the body and is placed to the front and outside. Remembering this will solve quite a few challenges.

If you a minute to spare watch the video counterpart of this blog entry as well, there are a few more examples shown. You can find it here.

Masterclass Concluded

Term 1 of the Masterclass has concluded and we’ll have a few weeks break. Have a look on the Masterclass website at the new testimonial and images comparing how much the students progressed in just 8 three hour sessions. Quite staggering.

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Common Mistakes – 001 Massing

Hello everyone, as I said a few days ago I’m working on a new series of videos which will talk about the common mistakes we all make in figure drawing. These can be easily fixed if someone is kind enough to point them out to us. Some of these may have extra information in the form of text and photos as it is below. The video for this episode 001 Massing will follow in a couple of days. All this is free to support your efforts in drawing. Here it goes:

Common Mistakes – 001 Massing

I want to say a few things about massing. There are a few basic rules in figure drawing that will deliver results. But underlying them all is massing. If you cannot master massing, no matter how much you know of all the other elements of drawing, there will always be something missing. Somehow it just will not be quite right. So if you’re not already versed in massing, give it your best and results will follow almost immediately.

What is massing? To force images turn into words, massing is a simplified visualisation of a complex form brought about in order to be able to make educated decisions about the form’s basic properties. These properties are absolutely necessary to know if we wish to draw the form. They are the size, shape, position in space and it’s relationship to other forms.

All of us who tried to learn to draw the human figure have been repeatedly puzzled how can it be so hard to draw something we are so familiar with. We wear a body ourselves, we see the human figure from the moment we open our eyes in the morning, all day long and then we probably dream of it too. The answer  to this puzzlement is simple. The figure is so complex and constantly changing that it is not possible to observe and capture each and every detail needed to convey our relationship to it on a piece of paper. The thing to do is what we always naturally and effortlessly do when something is too complex. We simplify.

The great masters knew this and worked out a good system which works really well. They have discovered that we can fairly easily relate to simple geometric shapes. A box a ball and a cylinder have become the artist’s greatest aids in his effort to comprehend the human form. Turning the complex form into something manageable, something which low level of complexity would still allow us to make conscious decissions about the form’s size, shape, position and the relationship to other forms on the paper.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Albrecht Durer, one of the artistic giants of German Rennaisance left us his drawings capturing his process of simplifaction. Working out proportions was one of his obsessions. And proportions are nothing else than the relationship one form has with another within the sheet of paper.

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In the image below Luca Cambiaso used the same method to work out his composition. The simplified figures are fast and easy to draw. The drawing easily becomes the narrative as one doesn’t need to pause a thought till a portion of the image is drawn. Changes are possible and fast. If you look, you’ll see the same simplified geomeric solution in all the master drawings. Some of them are more hidden, some of them only make a dot where others would place a line but the principle is the same.

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To demonstrate the above in a very practical way, compare the following two drawings. They are drawings of my students. The first was made during the first session of an eight week long course, where each week has only one three hour session. The second drawing was made towards the end of the course. Both drawings were made as a part of a series of “warm up” one minute long poses.

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The immediate impression of the first drawing is that it is very flat. Despite the three quarter position of the figure. The second drawing is quite the opposite – presents clear and lively volumes despite the pose of the figure turned flat with its back to the artist. Neither drawing has any detail, shading or elaboration. The lack of time did not allow for this and so we are in luck to observe the stripped down construction or lack thereof.

Since the geometric approach was already explained when the first drawing was made you can see the attempt to apply this knowledge in the first drawing as well however the results two dimensional and lack vitality.

Applying the same approach only after a few hours of practice and guidance results in a great construction ready to be developed into a nice drawing. And of course, the smaller details within the larger mass would have been approached using the same technique. Massing is all when it comes to understanding the human form.

The Second Incarnation

Hello everyone, as far as I can see the transition from the old to the new Figure Drawing Online website has been successful. I have done lots and lots (I mean lots) of testing, however we are talking about computers here so I’d appreciate if you guys can let me know if you see anything odd happening, links not working, images missing….

Also, if you have any other ideas or comments in regards to the content or structure, please, let me know and if I’m able to, I will make changes – after all the site is there for you. I think the old website was getting a bit too crowded and unstructured so instead of just patching up bits and pieces I decided to redesign the site. See how you like it.

Robert

Update from the Masterclass

Hello everyone, I’m a bit behind in reporting on the progress of the students in the Masterclass. We had the last session last Thursday. Just wait to see the comparison images documenting what everyone learnt in just 8 three hour long sessions.

But first, I want you to see what they did with the session on the hand. As I said in the News from the Classroom update on the Masterclass website, massing is everything. It seems to be a generally accepted idea that feet, hands and faces are the hardest to draw. With feet I usually base my teaching on anatomy, we talk about the bones and muscles. However with the hands, I base the entire”know how” on massing.
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After the theory, each student draws his/hes own hand. There is a link in all this. We know (no matter how unconsciously) our own hands. We just do. And this knowledge, coupled with the freshly learnt massing produces unbelievable results.

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Would you say these are the first few dedicated drawings of hands of a student in the beginners class? Every term when this happens, I’m amazed. Good stuff.
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Check your spam filter

Jack Hampton, I’ve been trying to get in touch with you since 25 March when you placed your order. I sent messages to two email addresses you listed – but no reply. It is possible that your spam filter is not letting my emails through so please check your settings. There are a few questions I have about your order.

This applies to all who are placing an order. If I can’t get through to you, there’s nothing I can do from my end.