Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Most figure drawing groups and classes begin with the model doing a series of short, 1 or 2 minute poses, that the artists use as a warm-up. There are some great things about is a good chance to warm up, and get your pencil, (or charcoal, or whatever your utensil of choice might be), flowing. It's also an opportunity for the model to warm up, and to strike some more challenging, "action-style" poses, (due to the short-length of time for each pose; a model could never hold these sorts of poses for the long, 20 minute or 40 minute poses).

Depending on your drawing style, you can sometimes get some great drawings out of these short poses. Yes, they are usually more "roughs" than fully-realized drawings, but there's a rawness and energy in these types of drawings that some carefully-created, long-term drawings can't quite match.

However...for me, personally, I'm not a huge fan of the short poses, simply because I tend to do my better drawings with long, 20 to 40 minute poses. I don't work in charcoal, either, which lends itself to quicker drawings. I know, at one of the drawing groups I attend, some of the artists working in charcoal get some amazing, gorgeous drawings done in 2 minutes, using charcoal. Some of the artists there using watercolor get similar results. For me, working in pencil, it can be a real race against time to create anything of quality. In the drawing I posted above, (which features 4 separate 2-minute drawings), you'll see I focused on various sections of the body, instead of full figures. I usually do a page of full figures, and they are very rough. In the drawing above, I was able to capture some amount of detail in each body part. I always try to do 1 or 2 drawings of the model's face, this can be helpful when the group moves on to longer poses, and I don't have a lot of time to spend on the face in a particular drawing. My earlier, 2 minute drawing of the face can give me some reference to short-cut in that area.

If you're just starting out in figure drawing, don't be intimidated by the 1 or 2 minute warm-up drawings. You may feel frustrated that you're not getting much more done here than stick figures. That's I said, this is just warm-up. As the session progresses and you move on to 5, 10, 20 minute and longer poses, you'll be able to do more refined drawings with each time extension. (A tip...unless you really feel you're getting high-quality drawings done in the warm-up poses, don't bother using high-quality paper for this. Use newsprint, or at the very least, do several drawings on one sheet, and use the back & front of your standard paper).


Griffin said...

I like working from short poses. I run into trouble on the longer poses, where I tend to overwork drawings, and maybe think too much. In the drawing group I go to, I would prefer they do a whole day of short poses, but don't think that's going to happen!

Greg Fox said...

Griffin, I'm guessing you work in charcoal and/or pastel? You can do some great quick drawings in those mediums, which can, I agree, suffer from over-work. I'm not sure of any groups that do all short poses, but I bet you could find one somewhere, (or form one of your own, something I'll talk about in a future post!).

Griffin said...

I do work in charcoal most of the time, Greg. Sometimes pencil, but it does take longer to shade areas. With charcoal you can do a whole big section in seconds.