Sunday, 4 March 2012

Assignment 5 - Drawing Figures - Tonal Study

Tonal Study

For this exercise I wanted to do a lying pose with the models feet covering a large part of the paper and having the interest and difficulty of foreshortening. I did a few poses using the cylinder approach from the last section.

The last pose I thought was really interesting and would be a challenge but I felt it was a bit too flattened and unnatural. However I liked the straight-on approach so I opted for the second last pose.

I wanted to try out using pastels which I'm not very keen on and haven't had much success with in the past. I felt they would provide a good medium for a tonal study because you can blend so easily. The brief suggests using coloured sugar paper so I chose a purple sheet for my initial drawing. This was dark enough to give a nice mid tone and I was interested how the colour would shine through.

A2 Pastels on sugar paper

For this first attempt I didn't spend enough time getting the measurements correct before firing on with the drawing and this is obvious in the incorrect size of the upper body. I also struggled with the legs because of the foreshortening.  

Unfortunately I didn't have any more purple paper left so I chose an orangey brown for the final drawing.
I spent a bit more time getting the measurements right this time. 

A2 Pastels on sugar paper

Check and Log

1. When you have completed this exercise assess your drawing. Make notes in your learning log on the effectiveness of you technique and choice of media.

The first pastel drawing was the perfect example of how the brain tries to correct what the eye is actually seeing - the head can't really be half the size of the feet etc. It did however give me great practise with the pastels and although the sizes are all out, I'm pleased with the effects, I especially like the feet. The purple was a great colour and it shone through and gave colours (especially the yellows) a bit more intensity.

The sketch allowed me to get the measurements right for final drawing although I still didn't quite get the legs right, I think looking at it they need to be a bit shorter. Again I'm happy with the feet, pastels seem to lend themselves to feet! I'm not so happy with the shading on the arms. They've ended up looking a bit flat and no matter what I tried I couldn't make them come out. Something I've found with pastels is that you can't go over them too often of you lose their vibrancy and they look muddy. Perhaps that's what's happened here.

Pastels are a good choice for a tonal drawing because the blend so easily. They are relatively fixable if you make mistakes too, although up to a point as I've mentioned above. They work very well with a coloured paper and I think it would be interesting to play with different colours depending on the main colours of your drawing. So purple paper would shine through nicely with mainly yellows and orange would be good for mainly blues etc.

Overall I'm happy with the drawing. It's much better than my previous efforts with pastels so I feel I've found a new medium to play with.

2. Have you made a convincing tonal study of the figure?

I think I have, the only part I'm not happy with are the arms which need something to make them appear more round. I think because they are further away and were more shaded it was difficult to pick the right colours to shade them.

The feet have worked well and as usual with bits of drawings that work well, they were the easiest bits and were finished really quickly! I was able to pick out the darkest shades and the highlights on each toe and I think this is why they've worked. The arms are a much larger area and don't have the small highlights which help show that a subject is rounded.

3. Have you conveyed the volume and proportions of the figure?

 The volume is described though shading and making the figure look rounded so yes I think overall I have. The proportions were harder to get right and I think the legs could be a bit shorter, but overall I think the proportions are not bad. I think the fabric made this task more difficult. It the model had been nude it would have been easier to get the highlights and shading right but the folds of the clothes made this a bit complicated.

4. What have you learned?

I've learned that I don't have to be scared of pastels and they are actually a good medium to describe the shading of the figure. I think they (and I) work best close up so I would like to do some studies of feet and hands to experiment.

I've also found that working on coloured paper can give really good effects and I like drawing "in the reverse" - rather than starting with a white sheet of paper and leaving the lighter areas blank, starting with the highlights using  a light colour and laying them down first.
Needless to say this exercise has also been great practise in getting the proportions correct and how initial sketches are a practise area to get this right and to play with the medium.

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