Exercise: Linear Figure Study


Exercise: Linear Figure Study

…Mix up a loose fluid mix of a neutral mid-tone to sketch in the outlines of the figure and other key lines that help to frame the figure and locate it in space… Don’t get too involved in close detailed drawing of hands, feet and features.  …Draw with your brush as accurately as you can…

I had been thinking about this painting whilst having breakfast and looking through social media, the news etc.  I am finding it extremely useful reading through the exercises and getting them settled in my head beforehand, I know what I have to do and sub-consciously am gathering ideas in readiness. I jotted these down in my sketchbook before I forgot them (see notations in photograph below).

Linear Figure Study & Preliminary Notes 4B pencil in A3 sketchbook

Linear Figure Study & Preliminary Notes
4B pencil in A3 sketchbook

So, although I had to be my model again, I wanted more movement and dynamism in the pose.  Initially, I thought the only way I could do this was with photographs, something I try to avoid ordinarily due the flattening effect the camera has.  However, as this was to be a linear study, I was hoping it would help not hinder.  My great idea (!) was to put the mirror on the floor and me lean against the wall looking down into it – think Jenny Saville – this was OK but not overly exciting. Next I brought my foot up, and thought to make it look like I was stamping on something with the foot being the focus. It was getting more like I wanted – instead of using a mirror, I used my iPad in selfie mode, so acted the same. I had my sketchpad balanced on the laundry basket to my right, with a pencil in my right hand and tried to sketch what I saw on the screen. I just about managed it although I couldn’t see my right forearm and hand nor was the raised foot easy to keep still. I then discovered that I could use a time delay for the camera, so could photograph the hand and the foot separately. I also took lots of other photos in this way. Funnily enough, I didn’t use any of those as the sketch was what I wanted. I know this wasn’t drawing from life with the paint brush, but was the next best thing. With the photographs of right arm and left foot, I had to be careful, as they photographed the opposite way round to the sketch – this is not an easy way out.

As in my preliminary notes, I mentioned having a dynamic ground to the dynamic pose, I pondered using wet in wet acrylic inks etc, however, I decided, as the brief suggested, to draw in paint and then use colour for positive and negative shapes that appeared.

Below is the resulting painting. Process:

  • Using the pencil sketch as source material, drew with medium round brush in mid tone, dilute, acrylic paint to place the figure in the space.
  • Adjusted drawing as necessary.
  • Using opaque acrylic, filled in the negative shapes around the figure which also disguised the discarded, inaccurate drawing.
  • Used muted colours for the clothing, keeping the colour flat to avoid tonal representation
  • Used more opaque, subdued mix of burnt sienna and white for the flesh except the foot.
  • As the underneath of the feet has strong blood flow, used dilute but strong cadmium red to exaggerate its focus.
  • I allowed it to run and over flow its outline, I then began to feel an emotive pull to emphasise the implied violence of the stance, stamping, squashing – was the red paint blood?
  • Following on, I returned to the drawing by using a rigger brush dipped in sepia acrylic ink and loosely traced the outline, varying the strength of the line.
  • Also using the rigger and ink, I added the hair that was falling over the face in a wild way – no features were added to the face – faceless violence!
  • I added some extra orange ink around the head, an attempt to illustrate the frenzy of the action.
Linear Figure Study Acrylic paint and ink Approx A3

Linear Figure Study
Acrylic paint and ink
Approx A3

This is the first time ever, I have felt a strong impulse to try to put a message into something I’ve painted. The accuracy may have suffered a little, particularly on the left arm, however, I feel it has been therapeutic.  From knowing what I had to do prior to doing it, and allowing thoughts to form ahead of the exercise, it has infiltrated into what I produced. I had read a post on social media that morning from someone pleading that violent videos not be shown all the time on the Newsfeed, even if it was for the best of reasons, plus all the violence and abuse that features daily in the news itself.

This has been quite a revelation – what next I wonder?


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