Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Moving Figure

This section is more of a work in progress and involves me filling a sketchbook with fast sketches of the moving figure. In order to do this I've been taking every opportunity to sketch people. The instructions say I should carry a sketchbook whenever I go out and about. I gave this a go but found that it stayed firmly in my bag. I guess it's pretty impossible to expect to sketch outside when I'm permanantly attached to a newly crawling baby. I'm going back to work soon so I'll be a bit more independant although getting the time to sit and sketch might be the problem then!

Meanwhile I've made use of the people around me, the TV, magazines etc. Obviously photos and even images on the TV are easier than real life so I've tried to get as many real people in as possible.

Sitting in front of the TV and sketching people, I was pleasantly suprised at how interesting this can be. There is a never ending supply of interesting poses which in themselves can create pictures that tell a story. Someone simply standing, about to push open a door or reaching out to pick something up could make a great composition for a final piece. Where does the door lead to? What is the person reaching for etc etc? I've always struggled in the past to do this, with my figures ending up very static and boring. A little preparatory planning of positions would make all the difference to a picture.

I've found it quite challenging to draw these fleeting moments, which is the purpose of this section I suppose. Suddenly you spot an interesting pose and then the person moves and its gone. I'm learning quickly to accept a multitude of unfinished squiggles in my sketchbook and you have to just move on to the next squiggle. It does make me look out for the same pose next time if I spot one that's interesting. I've found myself asking people to stay still for a minute which kind of defeats the purpose but stops me getting stressed!

This is a bit of a deviation but one artist I really like that captures fleeting moments and makes the viewer wonder about the figure in the painting is Richard Whincop. I discovered him in a local gallery and fell in love with his paintings and was lucky enough to get one for my birthday a few years ago. To quote his website.......

"My oil paintings explore the relationship between people and artworks, and the way this is affected by the context in which they are seen. They include works inspired by the environment of Art Museums, which bring together people and objects from different cultural worlds. I have also depicted paintings or sculptures in unusual settings, or juxtaposed them with apparently unrelated objects. This approach can throw up dramatic contrasts or forge unlikely connections, with each element shedding new light on the other. I have explored the symbolic role of the picture frame as a gateway to another world, a fictional "artistic realm" that seems just as realistic as the real world. In these works I have depicted figures and objects apparently entering or emerging from framed paintings, suggesting two-way traffic between art and reality."

Consider Phlebas II, Oil on Board, 60 x 42.5cm

That Which We Seek, Oil on board, 44 x 60cm

To get back to the assignment though, I had a quick look at some sketches of moving figures on the internet. There's certainly a lot of sketches on the internet mostly from unknown artists. One artist that springs to mind is Degas. He is most well known for his paintings of ballerinas and galloping horses. He also did many pastel drawings of nudes bathing.
His ballerina paintings were the result of copious sketching to the point he was able to change the dancers positions in his final paintings only using his memory of the dancers complex postures. He also used photography.
Four Dancers, Charcoal

Ballet Dancer Standing, Conte crayon
He repeatedly drew the same pose until he mastered it. The sketches above show his corrections and how he would focus on one aspect to perfect it. He would have to make these sketches very quickly while the dancers where in position which wouldn't have been for long.

I recently visited a local gallery that had an couple of large scale drawings by Hazel Bowman. I was really impressed by these charcoal drawings of dancers. The artist has conveyed a sense of movement not only through the subject and the actual drawing but also I think though the positioning of the figures off centre. I studied the drawing, trying to figure out how she managed to catch the sense of movement. She has mainly left the ends of the limbs unfinished and in some places there are lines remaining where it seems as if she has started to draw but the model has moved. The charcoal is laid down following the twist of the torso or the clothes.

Hazel Bowman

So here are a few of my efforts anyway, I'll be working on this all the time........

Check and log

1.Did you manage to identify and to catch those fleeting moments? I hope so. I think the fleeting moments are conveyed in the positions of the limbs mostly. the rest of the body is fairly static. I think in some of my sketches, you can see the figures are in the process of doing something and they are just about to move. Even the seated figure above looks like he is unsettled and about to shift.

2. Did you find it difficult to retain the image and draw later? This is very difficult. I guess practice and experience will help this. The more you draw a particular pose the easier it will be to do from memory.

3. Were you able to keep to a few descriptive lines to suggest the movement of the person? This was also difficult but depended on how long I had to look at the figure. If it was a fleeting glimpse I was more economical with the lines. The tendency is to draw more than is needed. I think I need to find the key lines which would describe movement quickly. I think the arms and legs show movement and if you redraw without rubbing out then this shows a change in position.

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