Saturday, July 23, 2011

Notes on Drawings #2
From the Studios of Garin Baker
Carriage House Art Studios
July 22nd 2011
"Temptress" B&W charcoal on Canson Paper, Garin Baker, 2008

The above 45 minute drawing in it's finished form shows none of the preliminary thought process and initial stages that are so important towards understanding proportions and getting the elements of the figure to fall into place and I thought I would in the following shorter pose image below highlight some of the unseen and preliminary thought processes from which all else is developed.

Drawing as a "Process of Subtraction":
I know this sounds reversed and for those of you who are seasoned draftspersons the clear perception of the whole as a conceptual beginning is key but lost among many students who focus on the resolved, finished or distorted qualities on the surface which are almost always built atop an unseen conceptual start.

2 min/ left       10 seconds/ right

The 10 second drawing on the right is that start. Many call this the "envelope" of form. And is so important as a conceptual beginning towards understanding correct proportions and building the skills necessary towards developing solid figure drawings.  Many students skip past or struggle to see how important this stage is and usually start with the head and attempt to construct a figure by adding a neck, shoulder, arms, torso, hips, legs and so on.  This being called, "Drawing as a Process of Addition". 
The 2 min drawing on the left is what's built on top on the first 10 seconds. depending on how much time you have will determine the lightness or darkness applied to your conceptual beginning realizing that we're playing chess here not checkers and anticipating where the drawing is going and the level of completeness or finished quality desired based on time alloted.

Many students having seen the amazing figure drawings by Egon Schiele and his purposeful distortion adding a tormented emotional quality to the work, miss the fact that he spent years diligently working to understand the human figure and how to manipulate it for effect.

Egon Schiele, "Self portrait with arms twisting above head".

Books on Egon Schiele:
Drawings & Watercolors
Egon Schiele 1890-1918 (Paperback)
Egon Shiele (Paperback)

Good draftsmanship is not an accident formed by chance, it's accidents created through understanding, diligence and consistent practice.

Drawing and perceptions will continue, so check back for
"Notes on Drawing" #3.


  1. Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on figure drawing. As someone trying to teach himself drawing, I have seen lots of my efforts go awry. Lately I have been trying to follow Robert Beverly Hale's advice; in his 'Drawing Lessons' book he says "you will never learn to draw unless you mess up thousands of drawings with construction lines".

  2. I was having trouble with the comment box....continuing on here. I'd be interested in what you think of Hale's comment as I previously posted - I wonder if he considered the gesture as part of the construction process.

    Thanks again for your posts, they have already given me some food for serious thought.


  3. Hi Chris, Received both you comments and Hale is a great place to begin. Fully agree with his sentiments. Years ago I had a wonderful teacher that told me when I fill up a butchers roll of brown paper with figure drawings I will only be at the beginning stages of the learning process. Still Learning and improving. My thoughts about gesture drawing are crucial to the process and I know Hale would agree. Keep the faith and draw from life at least 3-6 hrs a week I'm sure over a few months your drawings will improve and you'll experience real growth. Thank you for posting! Stay tuned for Notes on Drawings #3.