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"I am amazed with your classes 00 and 01 and I plan to complete the entire course. I've learned more in two classes than I learned at the local university here in two semesters of figure drawing. I am very excited."
Kathleen B., USA

"Thank you very much for my membership to Figure Drawing Online blog! And thank you for the great lectures! They are exactly what I was looking for!
Your lessons are even better than the lessons that I have visited during my graphic design studies at the University.

Because of your teaching lessons I discovered the figural drawing again for me and I have the feeling to really learn something ... step by step. Thanks for that ;-)

In a few weeks I would like to progress to the Advanced Class."
Nicole K., Germany

"I was so impressed with the clarity of the beginning lecture and the lecture on the torso that I will be ordering all 13 lectures and advanced as they are produced. Great teaching!! I wish I was in Australia!"
Jack from USA
 

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Note: The links in orange are live and have content. The rest is coming soon.

1/ Approach To Drawing – a bit of theory that goes a long way

1.1/ There is no such thing as Multitasking

1.2/ Copying versus Creating

1.3/ The Only 3 Rules

1.4/ Grasping the Complex

2/ The Basic Set–Up

2.1/ Materials – paper, drawing tools...

2.2/ Environment

3/ Drawing Basics

3.1/ Why Standing?

3.2/ How to hold A Pencil

4/ Drawing Practices

4.1/ The Shapes

4.2/ How to Steady the Hand

4.3/ Basic Perspective

4.4/ Foreshortening

4.5/ Imagine It and Draw It

5/ The Drawing magic

5.1/ The building Elements – line, plane, mass and contour lines

5.2 Flick that Light Switch

5.3/ The rule of the Mass – weight, thrust, orientation
 

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Image of a female model and the drawing of her.

I also teach in person – figure drawing, figurative sculpture in clay and figurative sculpture in stone. Attending a class in person has it's advantages. If you wish to do so, find out where and when is the next class held.

There is No Multitasking

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These days an imposed restlessness rules any occupation. It is a restlessness of productivity. Things have to have great value and have to be accomplished immediately. And so, often even artwork can be infected by demands of the “more and faster”.

However we, the artists, are in luck because that which needs to be expressed can neither be rushed nor ruled.

I don't wish to engage in a discussion about multitasking as such, since it has taken up such a large space in the "modern" approach to life of "smoke and mirrors". I just want to point out that especially in drawing, it does not exist. Why?

Drawing at it's best is like meditation, like a deep prayer. The focus of the artist while drawing is and must be great. The whole body carries the impact of the tension. The involvement in the weighing up of choices, handling the line and tone, the anatomy all the while allowing what needs to come through and be present. And it is so easy to go overboard, to push too hard or too fast. It is an endless walk on the tightrope. Everything counts while the soul soars and spreads its wings. Like a prayer.

Somehow I cannot imagine anyone praying and talking on the phone at the same time. So lets just agree that when you pick up the pencil, that's what you want to do and that's where you want to be. Present in that one task only and not thinking about the laundry.

Copying Versus Creating

This article needs to cover two important points. The first deals with skill. This relates to the understanding of the already mentioned fact that we do not draw what we see, we draw what we know. Let me explain.
Have you ever wondered how were the old masters able to draw the human figure in motion? The magnificent battle scenes, the roaring horses, the huge and populated biblical scenes. None of these took a break and stood still for a few hours for the artist to draw them, and yet, they are so gripping and moving and real. These days it is simple. Just shoot the action with your mobile phone and play it back frame by frame till you see a frame you like and then draw it. Right?

Now, this is interesting. If despite this marvellous aid the drawing doesn't look very convincing, then something else is missing.

Hundreds of years ago, with no technology, how did they do it? The answer is simple. They were not copying the reality, they were creating it. What does it mean? It means that the masters knew the human body and the elements of drawing such as perspective, foreshortening...so well, they could draw the figures in any position they wished. Then they imagined the content of the scene and used the knowledge of the form to express it. Without this knowledge the freeze frame, no matter how detailed, is not enough to become a convincing drawing.
Also, what really matters is the content. The form supports the message. The form itself by mastery can achieve highly pleasing aesthetic values, but have a look at any artwork that survives the test of time. The highly pleasing form is always anchored in content. The figure in a drawing, painting, or the sculpture is always capturing the inner life of a person. No matter how simple, mundane or even uninteresting the subject matter is. The human condition comes through with the masterly aid of the form.

You may think ok, fair enough, it all seem to ring a bell somewhere deep, but how is this going to help you learn to draw? Today, now, when I am facing the blank sheet of paper with a model posing.
The practical side to all this is that looking alone at the model is not enough. One needs to know what are the forms that make up the body. And this entails in case of figure drawing, among other things, human anatomy. Can you imagine what risks the old masters took to learn anatomy? During the Inquisition, dissecting corpses when the tiniest slip could have led to their arrest and possibly torture and execution.
I'm sure none of them would have chosen dissecting decomposing bodies as a favourite pastime if knowledge was not crucial? It was worth to risk their lives. Luckily for us, today we have many choices. We can study anatomy in the safe comfort of our living rooms.

Right about now you may be scratching your head: What is then the model for? Well, nobody is denying the importance of the model. Many masterpieces stem from the poses observed on the model. Think of the model as inspiration and think of the way to make use of that inspiration as your knowledge of what it is you are drawing. It is immensely important to have access to a model if you need to clarify a pose and / or anatomy.
And, another thing.
Artistic anatomy is NOT medical anatomy. There is no need to memorize a large city's Yellow Pages worth of data. Artistic anatomy is extraordinarily practical and geared towards the single purpose of drawing the human figure. So fear not, it is more accessible than you think.

And now to the second point. This one is again, about you, the artist. We hear all the time words like "inspiration" and "creativity" in relation to drawing. A drawing is never described as a "copy" of the model. That's because an artist (YOU) is a magician. He or she creates the figures, the scenes, the interaction of the bodies, the content and the message. Drawing is an act of creation. I suppose it is fitting to remind everyone about what I said in the "Drawing Tutorials Online" article on the home page. That you are Unique and therefore have just as much to say with your drawing as anyone else. And it is this uniqueness that will make your art original.
When I run my 8 weeks long
Figure Drawing Course I usually let the students concentrate on copying the model for the first 4 weeks while they absorb the Three Rules of figure drawing. After that I get them to approach the mindset of creation, which is the ultimate goal. There are certain practices in learning to draw (many are detailed in these free articles) that need to be observed and followed in order to stay on the shortest path to achieve the ability to draw. I watch these in the class and bring the students back to the basics when getting lost in the manifold of forms the human figure is. For those who cannot attend a class in person I have set up the "Critique" option on this site and I urge everyone to post their work on the Blog so that other students as well as myself can make comments and provide the very important feedback.
But apart from these essential practices I want each and every student to decide for themselves what is a pleasing figure and pose. These are your creative decisions and cannot be made by anyone but you. For this purpose I never talk about "proportions". Should the figure be 6 heads tall, 7 heads? YOU decide what the right proportions are. It is your drawing and only you can know the answer.

If you study the great masters you will very soon discover that none of them are actually accurate in their anatomy. If you compare their anatomical decisions with an unbiased anatomy textbook based on a manifold of statistical data compiled by painstakingly measuring thousands and thousands of people (lets not even get into the ethnic background created differences) you will see how far off they are and yet.....and yet, their artwork is Exquisite. Why?
Because once they mastered the tools of drawing – the craft which everyone can, they relied on their own sensibilities about what is a right composition, the right pose, expression, emotional content, message or suggestion. That is why copying the model in an immediate sense and another artist's style in a wider sense will never work.

Summary so far:
The ultimate in figure drawing is not to copy the surface of the model as faithfully as possible. The ultimate is to use the learnt tools of figure drawing to capture the inner life of the sitter or to create, to communicate to bring about imagery of the human figure from our unconscious. To sit down and be able to express ourselves with the form that is the closest to us – the human figure. This can be done only in focused meditation–like state of mind which is the opposite of the contemporary frantic and fragmented way of relating called "multitasking".
The place every artist wants
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. 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 the stroke of your pencil (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.”

Ok, let's have a look at the only Three Rules of Figure Drawing as they were successfully observed and practiced for many generations of artists.

Below is a video from the Free Stuff series on this site which is a good demonstration of the "Flow" mentioned above. The video also touches on many of the other elements of figure drawing which will be presented in the next articles so if you are moving forward in a linear fashion and reading article after article, don't trouble yourself too much about it, everything will be explained.

If you found the free tutorials, articles and the
"A Drawing A Day" series helpful, please donate an amount of your choice. Your support will enable me to continue producing more free stuff to help the progress of your learning. I do appreciate your support.

Image of a hand making a pen and ink drawing of a figure

This site has a Blog which is the platform for announcements. This is where the news of any new article, video and / or tutorial is posted. It also publishes the "A Drawing A Day" series where I upload a drawing a day, sometimes with a bit of commentary to demonstrate some of the many points talked about in the free lessons and the drawing course. This may take on a form of a video.

 

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