Into the Breach…

This coming Wednesday I am busy running an arts festival #manifestarts17. But as many of you know the class is attended by a number of excellent artists and facilitators, who have had occasion to step into the breach before. This week Dan Moloney is running the class. You will all know Dan he is probably the most regular of regulars. He recently exhibited Life Drawing works, a number created in our class, at Stretford Public Hall.

 

How to… move from using lines to using planes

Hello folks! This week we’re bringing you a quick tutorial on a key aspect of capturing three-dimensional forms on paper and bringing them to life.

The human eye is partly geared towards detecting edges and using them to piece together a perceptual jigsaw, with the brain filling in the gaps. This is why when we look at a large blank area of uniform colour and brightness we often imagine we see details and forms in it – the brain is trying to fill in the blank space and inevitably makes mistakes doing so. The natural instinct when drawing is to reproduce this bias towards edges by tracing the form of the figure with lines, but most of these lines do not appear in real life – what we are seeing is the sharp transition from one plane to another. A plane is a flat or near-flat surface in three dimensional space, and the differences in colour and brightness of these various planes are what make up 3D shapes. Moving from lines to planes is a key step in developing more realistic and life-like pictures:

planes

The next time you’re sketching a face or figure, try focusing on the different planes represented in the form, and filling them in with different shades to bring out the solidity of the shape. The human figure can be roughly divided up into various planes, and using a strong light source from a particular direction helps to emphasise this by casting different levels of shadow on different planes in the body.

planes 2

We hope you find this useful! As ever, here’s a selection of your sketches from the last class, hope you enjoy them and see you next time 🙂

Contrapposto – The classic pose

It’s not long to go now until our exhibition for the Chorlton Arts Festival! A big thank you to everyone who entered work to be exhibited – we’ll be in touch shortly with more details and to arrange payment for the frames from anyone who hasn’t already done so. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy another mini art tutorial – this week, we’re looking at the role the pose plays in composition.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that all of the skill of a well-executed portrait is in the hands of the artist. However, the posture and stance of the model plays a key role in creating a balanced and pleasing piece. One of the most widely used poses in classical art is known as Contrapposto.

Manchester drawing lesson - DavidContrapposto is an Italian term meaning ‘counterpose’. It’s used in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot so that the shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs. This gives the figure a more dynamic, or alternatively relaxed appearance. It can also be used to refer to multiple figures which are in counter-pose (or opposite pose) to one another. The leg that carries the weight of the body is known as the engaged leg, the relaxed leg is known as the free leg.

Contrapposto can be seen in a number of classical paintings and sculptures, most famously in Michelangelo’s David. The first known usage was c. 480 BC in an ancient Greek statue from the early classical period. The pose was revived during the Renaissance by Italian artists including Da Vinci, Donatello and Raphael.

From this basis, artists began to explore how poses can communicate a variety of emotions and attitudes. The next time you sketch a model, have a think about what their pose may be expressing and how you can capture that with your treatment of the scene.

As ever, here is a selection of your sketches from last class for you to enjoy; hope to see you next time!

Light & shadow

Well, the sun has finally shown its face in Manchester, hope you’re all making the most of the rays! In fact, we’ve been inspired by the weather to post a quick tutorial on light and shadow – hope you find this useful.

Understanding how forms behave in different light conditions can help you achieve added realism in your work. Light striking a geometric solid such as a sphere or a cube creates an orderly and predictable series of tones. Learning to identify these tones and to place them in their proper relationship is one of the keys to achieving a look of solidity. The ‘form principle’ is the analysis of nature in terms of geometrical solids, which can be rendered according to laws of tonal contrast.

sphere1

sphere2

The two photographs of the sphere show two classic lighting conditions: direct sunlight and overcast light. Each has a different set of tonal steps from light to shadow, known as modelling factors. In the direct sunlight, there’s a strong division of light and shade. The light side includes the light and dark halftones, the centre light, and the highlight.

The terminator, or ‘bedbug line’, is the area where the form transitions from light into shadow. It occurs where the light rays from the source are tangent to the edge of the form. If it’s a soft, indirect light, the transition from light to shadow at the terminator will be more gradual. The form shadow begins just beyond the terminator.

And as always, here is a selection of sketches from recent classes for your viewing pleasure! Don’t forget to bring your in to the next class to enter in the exhibition – all details can be found here.

How to… use your pencil to measure proportions

As ever, thanks to everyone who made it to last Wednesday’s class! Those who attended were treated to a quick tutorial in how to use a pencil to measure proportions for figure drawing – and we even handed out free pencils for you to keep (no expense spared at Chorlton Alternative Art Class!) Here’s a quick recap of the technique for anyone who wasn’t able to attend:

manchester life drawing exercise

Hold up a pencil in front of the figure and use your thumb to mark off a particular measurement (the standard unit for measurement is the head – from the top of the skull to the bottom of the chin). Keeping your thumb in place, use this as a yardstick for other parts of the body. How many heads tall is your subject? You can also get an objective measurement of the space taken up by foreshortened limbs, which are often a stumbling block for beginner artists.

Key points to remember:

1. Hold your arm out straight and keep your head still so that the distances between your eye, the pencil and the figure do not change as you measure.

2. Close one eye to remove any inconsistencies created by binocular vision.

3. Hold the pencil perfectly upright at all times with the sharp end sticking up for the most accurate measurement. Slanting your pencil will change the measurement and create inaccuracies.

Hope you find these tips useful, and hope to see you at this week’s class! Remember, we now run weekly so you can turn up on any Wednesday to join in. As ever, here is a selection of sketches from the last class for you to enjoy!