Monday, May 31, 2010

A breakthrough

A drawing book, probably from late 1976 or 1977, shows real progress. Suddenly I am discovering the joy of drawing, which till this point had basically been a burden.

I was actually very pleasantly surprised to discover a vast improvement in my approach on this, the first page of life drawings in the layout pad. (By the way, I wonder if you can still buy these fine-paper drawing books, whose name I've finally recalled.) Although, due to scanner constraints, I've had to lop off a bit of the bottom drawing and the legs of the figure on the right, there is enough here to show where I am finally going right. A key element is that the pencil is searching for the form and there is no obsession with shading for its own sake. Also, there is a greater freedom to redraw.

Jack Lugg was a master at getting the model to strike up an interesting pose. Here he would have stressed that we capture the twist in the torso, with all its attendant stresses through the body. I think that is quite nicely achieved, as the line explores in particular the abdominal area.

Ah, and there is even some fairly adroit shading here. A key realisation is that the shading lines follow the surface direction. I also like the way both hands have been redrawn, no doubt as they moved.

This drawing, from the same sketch pad, is evidence that I was starting to enjoy myself, combining several face studies, and even a bit of colour, in the work.

And this, surely, is a eureka moment. Suddenly I am playing with shading, allowing the lines to speak with purpose, delineating form. Note, for instance, the way the muscles in the neck and shoulders stand out prominently. Oh, and the hand isn't just an afterthought. It has real form. This is possibly my best drawing thus far.

But I was still struggling, as this work, one of two on the page, shows. I clearly tried an angular approach, even repeating the drawing of the head.

The long pose had so often been my downfall, but here I seem no longer to be afraid of the task. Instead, I am happy to draw and redraw, hence the "many" feet and hips. But instead of detracting, these lines actually boost the picture, in my view. And again, the hands are strong and properly seen.

The short pose so often provided scope for good drawing, and here I think we finally see evidence of it. Again, Jack Lugg set the poses with a view to the creation of interesting drawings. I like the fact that only the face of the one on the left is worked to anything like a finish, while the decision to get the model to hold a handbag on her head made for wonderful flowing lines through the figure. And the fact that I redrew those hips and thighs several times only serves to enhance the work, with the shading being applied to the "view" that best balances the whole.

Another Lugg-inspired effort. Here, I suspect, he asked the model to do a little dance, and got us to try to capture that movement in say five minutes. I really enjoy the result achieved here.

On this occasion, Jack Lugg got hold of a large bamboo pole, which forms a useful prop for the model. This drawing, and the two below, are all on the same page, and again I believe show real progress. I enjoy the almost painterly quality being achieved with the shading.

Yet, despite all my self-praise, which of course is no recommendation, I can sense that there was still much to do. I must add that a study of the drawings of the great masters, including Michelangelo, Leonardo and Rembrandt, formed an integral part in what progress had been achieved thus far.

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