I was at once confronted by a dilemma. My husband was available to pose for me as he was still at home following his back operation. I could cope with the fact that certain poses would be difficult for him, but the real problem, which he proved to me in Drawing 1, was that he was the most fidgety model possible. He is totally uncomfortable when being drawn and always seems to feel it if I try to be sneaky and draw him when he doesn’t know. Even if he’s reading he knows at once which part of him I’m drawing and must move it. In Drawing 1, Izzy, my young carer had stepped in, but Izzy has long since gone on to other things, and though others are saying that I can draw them, Paul is the only model who really fits in with my routine.
On day one I made two drawings of him. In the first, (left) on a very small scale, I made the mistake of starting with his head and got bogged down at once in trying to find an elusive likeness. I pulled myself away from that and started adding first the neck and shoulders and then the arms, starting with his right arm, with which he was holding his kindle. First it got lower, then higher, then he swapped the kindle to the other hand, then he scratched his head with the original hand, keeping his arm raised and resting on the top of his head for 3 or 4 minutes. Then he put it behind his back and kept it there, and I gave in. The more he fidgeted the more on edge I felt. I also felt guilty for putting him through that when he clearly hated it.
Our second drawing was done fairly late at night; he was more relaxed and so was I. With him almost at right angles to me, I started with the curve of his neck into his shoulders and then carried on down the right arm and further down his back to the point of the chair. I drew the astonishingly long thigh, the curve of his knee down to his lower leg and foot which was planted firmly on the floor. I then drew in his belly and chest and attempted to add the other leg. It didn’t work. Something was wrong.
We took a break, after which I could see clearly that I had made the torso too long, and so adjusted the lines. I shortened the belly also which gave me a torso that I was pretty comfortable with. The second leg remained elusive, and as his back was getting tired. I put a very vague head in quickly, and we ended the session. I’m happy with the torso, arm, and the existing leg. It’s a long time since I’d done this and the first time I’d drawn a nude body, even one I know so well. I proved to myself that although needing considerable work, it was something that I might be able to master.
MODELS GALORE ONLINE
I knew from Drawing 1 that there were many sites online with life models posing specifically for artists. On Youtube there are videos where models go through 1 minute poses, but speed was not the issue here and I referred to a website I’d used before, artmodeltips.com. I selected the pose on the left and drew it, once again starting on the near shoulder then down the curve of the back. I drew the long side of the chair and the sloping seat then built the rest of the body on top of it, I drew a rough face and her hair, and on course that lovely outstretched arm. Obviously this was a far more interesting pose than Paul’s, but due to Paul’s back surgery there was no possibility of his attempting a more interesting pose like this, or not for any length of time at least. I then added the background to use the areas of negative space. It helped to emphasise the positioning of legs and arms, which I found helpful. I did not draw the model on the right at this point.
I then went back to Paul, once again in the evening. This time I was feeling more confident and relaxed and my lines were less tentative. I think I made him a tiny bit stockier than he is however.
The Course material suggests moving round your model – this is impossible so I made him present different angles of essentially the same pose. The full frontal pose, to the right, was relaxed and interesting, but when it got to the genitals I paused because my carers and family sometimes flick through my sketchbooks. This was probably cowardice, but I thought Paul might find it embarrassing – or maybe it was just my hangup. He asked to finish the session at this point, due to back pain, but he had been totally relaxed until it started to hurt, quite an improvement.
Then it was back to artmodeltips.com for the pose on the left. This model was stockier than the first, and she had a definite crease line around her waist. For all of the poses thus far I had followed the advice in the Course Material (page 85) not to get bogged down with hands and feet and to concentrate on the poses themselves. This it why the hands and feet look unfinished. Once again, I added the background in order to use the negative space, in this case the area between the torso and the table. It also accentuates the drapes on the table and some of her curves. I’m not sure why my life drawings were drawn without the benefit of background whereas I added it to two out of three drawings off the internet.
Next I picked the slightly more complicated pose (right) but I’m not sure I got this right. The right shoulder looks a little unconvincing and I’m not sure the legs work either, I didn’t use a background on this one,but the shadow is effective I think. Shame about the body itself.
Later the same day, I drew Paul again, and achieved a somewhat stiff result, mainly I think because he has needed to become quite straight backed to help recover from his back surgery. It’s also usually a sign that he’s in pain, and he tired quickly. I’m happy with the torso and the positioning of the head, But I didn’t have time to get the legs right.
I then moved on to a painting of Paul and then self portraits.