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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A possibly frequent question worth posting

The other day I have received an email with a question which I suspect would cross the mind of many of those who thought about doing my online course. I thought it is a good idea to actually publish (with permission) both, the question and the answer:

Hello,
I am curious about your online courses and how it is meant to be used.  I don’t have access to a live model at home and wonder if it is OK to use virtual models to practice what I learn in your course?  (books with a CD of various poses).  Is it valuable to learn that way and then to supplement these studies with live classes? I take classes with a live model twice a week, one in figure drawing and the other a portrait class.  I have been doing this for years, but I find that my drawing skills for the figure is still quite weak!
 Thanks!
C. H. from USA
There is a way to learn figure drawing. It is a simple way and so everyone can do it. It is a set of steps guiding you through the decisions everyone wanting to draw has to make. These decisions are being made on the fly as you draw. The more you practice making these decisions, the more they become subconscious and your attention is therefore free to start to create. That’s the purpose of practicing. To free you up. The accurate realistic figure drawing, as nice and satisfying as it is, is not the end goal. It is to become a tool you can then use to express yourself, to communicate your ideas and feelings to the world. That is Figure Drawing in a nutshell.
Drawing from live model is the best there is because it allows you to perceive the 3 dimensionality of the body better than looking at a 2 dimensional photo of a 3 dimensional body. However, if you don’t know what you looking for you will not be able to progress.
 You already have a part of the ideal solution. If you draw from a live model twice a week, all you need is someone to tell you how to go about making the conscious decisions when drawing. And, of course, then practice.
My online course is a series of videos which take the viewer through all the body parts, explaining how to decide upon the shape you are about to draw and why. It provides a basic list of the “do”s and “don’t”s. All of this is done watching me drawing in real time so that you can see how it happens while I talk and explain why I am doing what I am doing and why is it working.
I really enjoy teaching in person because it allows me to see the mistakes everyone does and point them out early. And, of course, I get a kick out of watching someone else “getting it”, when something clicks and magic happens. But precisely for that purpose I started the “Common Mistakes” free series of videos anyone can watch.
I haven’t seen your drawings but based on your own assessment I assume you stopped at a certain level and can’t get past it even though you are doing life drawing twice a week. I would suggest you get the course, watch it all carefully, follow the drawings I make in the videos and then look for the things discussed in them on the live model when you draw the model. You will leap forward.
Ohhh yes, and one more thing. You said you have no access to a model at home. But you do. Yourself. Look down at your foot, look at your hand or, as I often do, stand in front of the mirror (clothed or naked – up to you) and draw. Observe the mechanics of the body while you are having a shower, when you make a motion, what happens. You are the perfect model, because you can feel the pose in your body, you can feel your own weight, which muscles are contracted and which are relaxed. Invaluable exercise. See how you go, and please let me know if it is ok to post your question on the blog. Happy Drawing!

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.
IMG_6707_webopt IMG_6714_webopt IMG_6716_webopt IMG_6721_weboptAnd here is an example of a 10 minute long drawing.
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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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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.

New Prices, Lecture 000 is back

Ok, so after much deliberation and even more feedback from you all here are the latest changes to the lectures for sales.
First of all I have abandoned the discount voucher system as it was causing too much confusion. I have just adjusted all the prices instead. The new pricing is as follows:
Separate Lecture for download – AUD $30.00 each
Separate Lecture received in mail – AUD $30.00 each plus postage and handling
Separate Lecture DVD edition – AUD $35.00 each plus postage and handling
Whole course for download – AUD $349.00 (saving of $41.00)
Whole course DVD edition – AUD $455.00 (saving of $56.00) plus postage and handling
I’m sure this is a good news for you all who are thinking of getting the course or part of it.

The second change is about the Lecture 000 Where To Start. This was initially created because you requested a introductory lecture to the course that sums up the figure drawing principles. For some time now it was a bonus lecture for those who bought the whole course. Many of you requested it to be for sale again especially as it was a bit less expensive and it offered a safe insight into the course itself.
Well, it’s back and it is offered for the same price it always was, AUD $20.00 and you can find it here. There is also a link to it on the home page where the discounts were. I’m sure this too is good news.

If any of the links don’t work on the website, please, let me know so that I can fix them. Thanks to you all.

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The power of the traditional way

I’ve done a recent workshop in soap stone carving in Broken Hill. It was a 2 day event, a Saturday and a Sunday with about 8 hours of tuition each day. I was presented with a group of 6 students who have done various workshops before. However they were all completely new to stone carving.
There is a fairly long way before one gains enough experience working with stone to be able to produce what one wants. To be able to control your chisels and blows, to understand the limitations of stone as a material. So there was quite a bit of ground to be covered in 2 days.
The big help I had was the choice of the stone on behalf of the Regional Gallery who ran the workshop. Soapstone. Great material to start with. Hard enough to still qualify as stone and soft enough to be carved with a standard kitchen knife. We had a whole stack of different rasps, sandpaper and of course wax for final polishing.

Due to the shortness of time I was in a bit of a dilemma whether to just let everyone pick up a piece of stone and start hacking at it and hoping that with a bit of guidance they will find their way. Or, I could spend some of that precious time and introduce the traditional way. That is, don’t touch the stone, till you know exactly what is it you want to carve. This approach requires one to draw / sketch the idea, then model the idea in clay so that one can see the three dimensional object from all sides and make some choices. And then, and only then start carving the stone.
Apart from the obvious benefits what this approach helps with is that you don’t have to try to realise your artistic intent while at the same time you are trying to get a grip on a chisel. Despite using some of that time for the preparation the remaining time was more that enough to create some of the following artwork. Do remember, that they had no previous experience with stone.

Starting point – pieces of soapstone
IMG_5196_web_optThe workshop. Please notice the clay models.

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After the drawing, modelling in clay the carving starts.
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IMG_5200_web_optA use of various rasps is a good help when use of the chisel might be too rough.
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And some of the final artwork.
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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.

 

PAD is up and running

Just a quick update especially for those who live in Sydney and around about new and exciting educational opportunities. Those living overseas can have a look at what’s happening Down Under in the arts education and compare to what is available where you live.
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PADProduction Art Department is Sydney’s first illustration school for entertainment design. The course it provides has been designed from the ground up by industry professionals. What is it all about?
Ever wished you could design landscapes for films, never before conceived sets for games or unique and original characters for either of the above or comic books? Well, if you did, now you have a chance to make your dreams come true. How?
To quote from the PAD website:
“PAD places core artistic skills at the very centre of its program. We consider technology to be a tool for artistic creation, in the same way that a brush is a tool for painting. Just as a brush will not make you a better painter, knowledge of software will not make you a better artist. For this reason, PAD focuses on the core artistic skills that enable you to use both brushes and software to create outstanding artworks.”

The core artistic skills are taught in four areas. Perspective, Light, Anatomy and Narrative. The students on top of the knowledge gained in these 4 keys areas, will be able to develop conceptual skills, design skills and execution skills. Figure Drawing Online will be providing the tuition of anatomy.

But have a look for yourselves what amazing skills and knowledge you can gain at the state of the art facilities of this unique school by attending this course.

Image attachments

Looks like I have found a suitable plugin for WordPress that will allow an image to be inserted into a comment. This is good news as now we can show, rather than talk about only. After all, this is a figure drawing blog.
Would’n mind if some of you folks could test whether it is working well.

R

figure studies

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A few drawing studies using images from the first lesson. Would welcome comments from anyone. (Pardon the “no-hands” in the first one).

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Fig 1

Fig 1

Fig 2 & 3

Fig 2 & 3

Fig 4

Fig 4

 

 

Hi Keith,
Thanks for your upload. If I may I will add a few comments.
First of all, let me say that overall your drawings are nice. I can see you have spent time on anatomy, you have quite a good knowledge of bones and muscles, especially in the rib cage and pelvis. There are some really nice suggestions of the underlying structure in fig 3, which gives the drawings a sense of firmness and reality. That is very nice.
If you were to ask me what is it you could focus on, I’d say you need to spend a bit more time on massing when drawing. It feels to me you start to work on the details before the massing is finished. I have to point out tough, that part of the missing massing is due to the fact that in fig1 the head is obstructed by hair.
The second thing I noticed is a bit of an issue with the ground plane in fig1. The two feet don’t seem to be on the same ground.
And a last observation. Applying gravity to the figures will give a sense of weight and therefore reality. Apart from breasts other ways to indicate gravity is the flow of hair and when the muscles are relaxed, they need to sag as they are not supporting their own mass (neither of which applies to your drawings here). Hope all this helps.
Really nice work. Hope to see more.
R

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Mea Culpa

I was alerted to a problem by one of our contributors, Keith, who was trying to upload some artwork and could not find the “Add Media” button. Well, it turns out it was my mistake.
Here I’m all going on about contribution and uploading images and creating a space for creative thought and…well….the role of the contributor does not allow for images to be uploaded.

It’s all fixed now and the role of all the contributors have been changed to the role of an “Author”. Now it is all possible. If I have omitted anyone*, please send me an email. Thanks Keith, appreciate your comment.

R

*PLEASE NOTE: In order to become a contributor or an author you will have bought at least one Lecture at www.figuredrawingonline.com

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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