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!

Massing and the basic Structure

This comes back again and again in the class. The moment you forget about massing and the underlying structure, the drawing goes to pieces. If you follow the structure path first, a 60 seconds pose is long enough to make a drawing. If you abandon massing and focus on detail, no amount of time will be enough to make the drawing work. This is the underlying rule in figure drawing that needs to be observed and practised. Nothing happens in figure drawing without massing.

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Masterclass Continues

Here are a few more images from the classroom.
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Below are some of the short poses, one and two minutes. I bet you wouldn’t say these students are only learning to draw. Fantastic stuff.
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Masterclass is now part of a Bigger Picture

Just a quick update for those wishing to reach the masterclass.figuredrawingonline.com website and get a weird result. That’s because the address gets redirected.

Why?
The initial Masterclass in figure drawing has been extended into a full blown Sculptural Course consisting of three parts. The former Masterclass teaching realistic figure drawing is the first part, Figurative Sculpture in Clay is the second part and finally the Figurative Sculpture in Stone is the third part of this unique course offered at an incredible price.

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The figure drawing is now closely related to sculpture and so I decided to move it in. Not all the links work as yet, but at least everyone can have a look and get the information.

As you will discover browsing the site, those who wish to participate only in one or two of the parts but not all can do so. The only requirement is that they have a workable knowledge of what the course they are leaving out teaches. This is a simple precaution to avoid holding up the class. There is so much ground to cover and so much to learn. So check it out. You can still use the old address or you can go to:  www.sculptureandstone.com/education.html

Student excellence

We just had our second session of the Masterclass last night and the progress the students made was fantastic. Last week we did the Where To Start introduction to the course by practising simplifying complex forms into simple geometric shapes. That way one can actually think of them and make conscious decisions about their size, shape, position and orientation in space. That was pretty basic stuff.
So then last night, the second session, we dived into the anatomy of The Rib Cage and The Pelvis big time. If you haven’t done any purposeful learning of figure drawing, there’s a lot to process the first time you hear this stuff but everyone landed on their feet and just check out these three drawings of the same pose by three different students. Huge, huge progress. No wonder everyone is having a good time. Can’t wait for the next week’s session to witness the wonderful creative surprises everyone comes up with. Who said there are no perks in teaching?

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Masterclass is up and running

Just a quick update, on the Masterclass. As you may know Masterclass is now offered in Broken Hill and it has a great success. The class is full with 10 students and with extra couple of people coming in just for the life drawing part of each sessions with no tuition.
We started on Wednesday learning the very important Where to Start part of the course, which is really the three basic rules of figure drawing upon which the rest of the knowledge can be successfully built. Everyone is charging ahead with an unbelievable speed. I know it often doesn’t seem that way to the students, but if you can read the signs, you can see how amazing their progress is.
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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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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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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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Masterclass Update

Forging ahead with the shoulder girdle and upper arm. The shoulder is one of the most expressive parts of the human body. It’s flexibility and range of movement largely independent from the rib cage creates a huge source of rhytmic movement.
An important bit to learn is the fact that the shoulder girdle sits atop of the rib cage and is so independent that the clavicles or the sclapulae cannot be used to determine the position of the rib cage for successful massing. For that we need to stick to rib cage’s landmarks, the seventh cervical vertebrae, the pit of the neck, the lenght and orientation of the sternum, the bottom of the tenth rib…
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What’s it all about..

As all of you who read my posts or watched any of my recorded lectures well know, at the heart of learning and mastering figure drawing is the basic rule: We don’t draw what we see, we draw what we know. No amount of concentrated observation on its own (although coupled with knowledge it does help to see not only to look) will make the drawing work. Once we accept this very basic idea, we can recognise the need for all the study the old masters were willing to undertake in order to master the human figure. No amount of danger from inquisition during the Renaissance would turn away the daring artist willing to find a corpse to dissect in order to understand, to learn and to know how the body works.

Luckily for us, today, with all the technology available we are not doomed to do the same. We can study anatomy from the comfort of our living rooms. But the underlying principle remains the same. Study so that we can know what to draw. Nobody is denying the importance of the model. Many masterpieces stem from the ideas suggested by the pose of the model. But we need to know what it looks like what we want draw looking at the model. Know.

The ultimate in figure drawing is not to copy the model as faithfully as possible. The ultimate is to use the learnt tool of figure drawing to create, to communicate to bring about imagery of the human figure from our unconscious and beyond. To sit down and be able to express ourselves with the form that is closest to us – the human figure.

Phew! After all that, here comes what I wanted to say and show you. About halfway through the course I teach in person at Masterclass I tend to invite the students to create, rather than copy the model. This may prove to be quite difficult when you are looking at the model. So we took a break and I asked the students to take 5 – 10 minutes and draw me a seated figure. Any figure in any seated position in any view or angle. No limits. These are students who only had 3 and a half sessions. There was no model present, no aids. They had to rely on what they know. Below are two results. I was expecting good stuff, but this surpassed my expectations.
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Last Friday at Masterclass

We all had a great time at the latest session of Masterclass. This time around we talked about the lower leg and the foot. We aslo did a bit of an early experiment which huge results. I will post on that tomorrow. For now, here’s two of the students converting the freshly learnt knowledge.

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New Figure Drawing Website

Hello everyone, trust you are all ok and doing well. As I said in an earlier post with the completion of the last lecture (Lecture 13 – Facial Features) the beginners course is now complete. And that brings along a few changes including the new pricing.

You can still purchase a single or only a few lectures if you wish in a variety of formats, however the new pricing favours the Course as a single purchase as it represents a complete take on beginners figure drawing, guiding the student through the whole of the human body. The separate lectures often recall material discussed in the earlier episodes and so it is useful to have them all available.

The look of the new website’s home page:
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The new pricing
Since many of you are in the process of getting the lectures one by one, I will keep the current pricing for the next 6 weeks as is, to give you a chance to get the missing lectures. The new website and the new pricing listed below will start from Sunday 31 March 2013.

Current Pricing
Lectures 1 – 13 Download Edition – AUD 30.00 each
Lectures 1 – 13 Download Edition received in mail – AUD 30.00 each + postage*
Lectures 1 – 13 DVD Edition (PAL and NTSC) – AUD 40.00 each + postage*
Lectures 1 – 13 DVD Value Pack (PAL and NTSC) – AUD 520.00 free postage
Lecture 0 Where To Start – AUD 20.00
* to check how much the postage is, add the desired purchase to the shopping cart

New Pricing (starts on Sunday, 31 March 2013)
Lectures 1 – 13 Whole Course Download Edition
AUD 499.00 + Lecture 0 Where To Start worth AUD 20.00 for free
Lectures 1 – 13 Whole Course Download Edition received in mail
AUD 499.00 + postage* + Lecture 0 Where To Start worth AUD 20.00 for free
Lectures 1 – 13 Single Episodes Download Edition
AUD 49.00 each
Lectures 1 – 13 Single Episodes Download Edition received in mail
AUD 49.00 each + postage*
Lectures 1 – 13 Whole Course DVD Edition (PAL and NTSC)
AUD 599.00 + postage* + Lecture 0 Where To Start worth AUD 20.00 for free
Lectures 1 – 13 DVD Edition (PAL and NTSC) Single Episodes
AUD 59.00 each + postage*
* to check how much the postage is, add the desired purchase to the shopping cart.
Note: Lecture 0 Where To Start will no longer be available as a purchase, however will be added as a free bonus worth AUD 20.00 for those who buy the whole course in any format.

New video series
There is also a new series of short free videos coming soon, dealing with the most common mistakes we make while learning to draw. These are the mistakes that take time to see, however if a teacher points them out, we can really accelerate our progress. The videos will be published on this blog.

Hope this all makes sense. If you have any questions, post a comment so everyone can benefit, or email me.

Robert

The Beginners Course is complete

The beginners version of the Figure Drawing Course is now complete. You can find the last lecture on Facial Features, it’s preview and free version in the usual places. Stay tuned as in the next couple of days I will show you the preview of the new Figure Drawing Online website. Also there will be some pricing changes that will favour those who wish to get the complete course rather than just a few lectures.
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Another Friday night at the Masterclass

Since the large mass determines the position, orientation, thrust and rotation of the smaller mass it is no surprise the second session of the Masterclass, right after the fundamental rules of the figure drawing continues with the Rib Cage and Pelvis. Everyone is learning fast to look for the skeletal landmarks and use them to position the body parts correctly.
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Masterclass Term 1 Up and Running

If you missed out this time around or just haven’t had a chance to make up your mind, keep watching the week by week updates of students progress on the Masterclass website. The great bunch of talent will be showing off their skill in no time. Very exciting!

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Appreciation

I just have to share this one with you. I do get feedback. And I’m pleased to say, so far everyone is happy with their purchase, however the comment I received during the weekend was quite special. Here it goes:

“I am amazed with your classes. I’ve learned more in two classes than I learned at the local university here in two semesters of figure drawing. Thank you so much for making these classes available. They are rich and full and you are an excellent teacher.”
K.B. USA

Now this person also wanted to find out how does one qualify for a discount voucher. I replied and explained that the website is just being established and that the time I spend on preparing the Lectures is taken away from other, more lucrative endeavours, so at present there are no discounts available.

A reply arrived. This person understood and added:

“Your lessons are like a gift to my art.”

Thank you KB,  I don’t think appreciation gets any better than this.
Robert

The Lecture on the Skull is ready

Hello everyone, the second last lecture in the Beginner series is now ready.

The head has always been a great challenge for the artist. After all we are very accustomed to look into each others faces and read them to understand each other. We are very good at seeing when something is not quite right. And we do it fast and without thinking.

I have therefore divided the lecture on the head into two parts, the Skull and the Facial Features. The Skull is now ready and don’t forget to watch the free version of it here. This lecture also describes the basic set of human emotions and which muscles create them.

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