Part 4, Project 5, Exercise 2 – Groups of Figures

Moving figure 5


moving figures crowd 2


moving figures crowd 3

This was far more fun and more successful than I had expected.   But the best part was the people coming up and talking – some of the dialogue I have written at the top of the sketches.

The first sketch was just warming up and thinking about how people might look moving around.   By the time I was working on the second page I was looking more closely and finding that the only way to achieve anything like a sense of the individuals was to spot someone in the distance walking towards me or someone walking away and draw them for the few seconds I had them in my sight.    I think from the second page I could begin to build up a drawing at home but really I need to spend far more time doing this exercise to become more observant and to make detailed notes about particular figures.

The final page was watching people around the bus stop so was more static but became more engaged in the particular characters around.   The woman with the dog and the large man sitting on a bench.   I also like the little huddle of people in the bus shelter.

Two hours went by really quickly and I can imagine spending more time doing this in the future.  There is no sense of the place in my sketches and I would have to think about whether I want to include that or not.


Part 4 – Project 5 – The Moving Figure – Exercise 1

moving figures t and k


moving figure 6

These sketches were a pair of models getting ready for a life class. They were practising the poses they wanted to take later in the session.  I see them as moving because I was there but I don’t think I have captured movement exactly.

I’m not sure how you do that even yet – apart from making it blurry!

Part 4 – Figure & Head – Research- Personal Observations

pontorno 1  pontorno 2

I have recently been introduced to the stunning drawings by Pontormo a Renaissance artist  (1494 – 1557) whose beautiful expressive images use line in a very particular way – half there – not there with tonal values added that show an extensive understanding of anatomy.

shiele 2  schiele 1  schiele 3

Leaping through the years the anguished lines of Egon Schiele depict his own searching for accuracy and engangement via his numerous self-portraits.   However as shown by the drawing on the right he was capable of exceptional accurate sculptural studies too.

Kathe Kollowitz 1

KK 2  I have also been drawn to the work of Kathe Kollowitz whose many images particularly of mothers and children evoke a caring kind of intimacy which I admire.


FA 4  And Frank Auerbach’s expressive excursions of images of particularly the face.   The overworking and layering using eccentric marks and materials.

Piet Peere

PP 2   Finally in the drawings I enjoy the work of contemporary artist Piet Peere.  Here Anatomy is carved in a different way tonally as opposed to lineal marks by Auerbach.

What I want to Say about Bodies

If I look at the different work above and the styles of the artists I am struck by how I am drawn to two opposing energies.   The strong individual lines and marks that are Schiele and Auerbach.  In contrast the careful tonal weight and intimacy of the bodies by Pontormo and Peete among others.

This is the ambiguity I experience when I am working on a drawing.   Working fast and innately or working slower thinking the structures , relationships, and form.  It is also the experience of my own relationship to my body, being female, daughter, mother, grandmother…..there is often, always (conscious or unconsciously) the pull and push of the two sides – energies which are nurturing and those which are wilder, more destructive perhaps, certainly physical.   Energies that even yet require the testing of boundaries and limits.

Self Portrait

Moving through the exercises I am surprised by how much I am drawn to the self portrait.   Capturing the intimacy with oneself at the same time as knowing you are going to be observed – viewed is challenging.   Do I want to appear better than I am – what is better?   Younger, less double chin and drooping jowls.  Actually I realise this is the one place I can be totally honest.   Not driven by acceptable presentation of the self to the work as in social media, advertising, celebrity driven guidelines.

You can only be an acceptable older woman if you are Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Jane Fonda etc. ….  Talented, slim, tweeked.   I love my long grey hair – the only time I have had long hair in my life.   I am thinking of a 65+ year old version of Munch…


Strange when I found this again I was surprised that it was not as I remember it.   The figure less erotic, the hair less evocative of  looseness, sexuality.  It wasn’t until I looked it up that I realised that this is called Madonna.   To my non Christian background this was not obvious……       His work has been described as “psychological talisman”( which I think is what interests me about the work. Immediately I am thinking about Cindy Sherman’s historic images series…..

Cindy_Sherman_historic_portrait_-222_1990 cindy sherman historic portrait 2

and Henrik Kerstens iconic plastic bags ……

historic portrait with plastic bag henrik kerstens 2 henrik kerstens 3 with all the trimmings – doilies et al.


As I draw to the end of this section, Part 4, I am more interested in drawing on my own body, literally as a source and am thinking of ways in which I can form the Part 5 around this theme.   However I am also still interested in my dolls – and doll parts (see sketchbook) and the influence of Hans Bellmer.

At this stage of my life 65+ I am less inhibited about my own body than ever and rather like John Coplans – would like to find a way to use my own anatomy as a metaphor.

I particularly like the images where the body is not immediately “readable” – enigmatic.

Said Coplans: “I have the feeling that I’m alive, I have a body. I’m seventy years old, and generally the bodies of seventy-year old men look somewhat like my body. It’s a neglected subject matter…So, I’m using my body and saying, even though it’s a seventy year old body, I can make it interesting. This keeps me alive and gives me vitality. It’s a kind of process of energising myself by my belief that the classical tradition of art that we’ve inherited from the Greeks is a load of bullshit.” (Wikipedia)