ART INSTRUCTION: Drawing Course Syllabus

The Drawing Fellowship

FOUNDATION & FUNDAMENTALS

Focus on the Human Figure

(The “Ryder Way”)

* * *

DRAWING COURSE SYLLABUS

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CONTENTS

PART ONE: THE FOUNDATION

  • Introduction
  • Understanding Light & Shadow (Part One)
  • The Block-In
  • Understanding Gesture
  • The Contour
  • Understanding Light & Shadow (Part Two)
  • Understanding Form on the Inside
  • Drawing on the Inside
  • Supplemental Lessons: Perspective, Proportion & Foreshortening
  • Supplemental Lessons: Nathan Goldstein
  • Supplemental Lessons: Juliette Aristides
  • Supplemental Lessons: The Head, Hands & Feet
  • Supplemental Lessons: The Hair
  • Supplemental Lessons: The Draped Figure
  • Sessions with Live Models

PART TWO: HUMAN ANATOMY

  • Introduction
  • The Bigger Picture
  • Anatomical Parts & Pieces

 PART THREE: LAWS OF COMPOSITION

  • Introduction
  • The Laws
  • Supplemental: Going Deeper with Nathan Goldstein

* * *

PART ONE

THE FOUNDATIONS OF DRAWING THE HUMAN FIGURE:

“The Ryder Way”

Lessons are organized around Anthony Ryder’s classic text, The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing. Have found nothing better.

Lessons to be supplemented by other  contemporary masters; they lay down a masterful foundation for The Drawing Fellowship: Aristides, Goldstein, Maughan, Berry, Mendelowitz, Sheppard, Bammeos, Hale & Collins.

 * * *

 INTRODUCTION

 (The “Ryder Way”)

 [eight lessons]

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MATERIALS:

Canvas & paper possess their own nature, even personalities. We must learn and respect their characters.

 Ryder, Goldstein, Berry, Maughan, Aristides

BASIC ORIENTATIONS: Attitudes to the Craft

In short, how does one make ones’ studio one’s home? And, walking out the studio door, how does the artist (that is, his work) relate to the public. No matter how personal is the act of creating a work of art, it is also – always – a public event.

 Ryder, Aristides (excellent), Goldstein, Maughan, Mendelowitz for the “history of lines”

BASIC TECHNIQUES: Introduction to Line

Drawing the Line all types and functions – is the foundation skill of the artist: straight line, sketching, hatching; name it, we’ll master it like second nature. The concept of line dominates all the lessons.

In the hand of the artist Line is a thinking, conscience tool; its potential is almost limitless, certainly abundant.   Mendelowitz, for instance, categorizes twelve different types and functions of Line.

Ryder, Aristides, Goldstein, Maughan, Mendelowitz.

BASIC TECHNIQUES: Introduction to Value

Once Line is grasped, the properties of Value are next.

Value is the visual outcome of the light source upon the subject (in this course the human figure): the gradations of shadow which mold the three-dimensional form or figure within two-dimensional space. In short, the “Law of Chiaroscuro”.

Obedience to this law creates masters. More on this below.

[sup.]

BASIC TECHNIQUES: Introduction to Form

Line & Value are mastered by the artist, in the end, to create Forms: figurative, representational, abstract, in two-dimensional space.

This means we also study the underlying geometry of solids (or shapes) which hold and exhibit the human figure. Even though we do not use the “constructionist” method of drawing, the “geometry” of forms cannot be ignored.

In mastering Form we tackle the various concepts of perspective, patterned space, planes, foreshortening, and movement. Important to grasp this, for such concepts are the backbone – at least the radiating ribs – of every lesson.

[sup.]

BASIC TECHNIQUES: Introduction to Texture

Not usually covered in an introductory course, yet Texture, done well, becomes the artist’s signature that he has mastered the other foundational principles. It is the showpiece of our grasping of things.

Texture is more than just learning to draw surface appearances. What’s on the surface is intimately related to the fullness of the object or figure. It is the sign of “what is” appearing to be seen.

Surface Texture is various and multiple: skin, fabric, objects, even the “atmospheric texture” which light creates filtering upon a subject.
NOTE: See section below on “The Draped Figure”. Mendelowitz is our master here. Others are helpful but he fine-tunes the principle (the law) of it. Complemented by Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil by J. D. Hillberry.

 THE “WET” MEDIA: Introduction

This Drawing Introductory Course focuses on graphite (pencil) and charcoal. Other media, such as pastel, ink & pen (including ink washing) are introduced when appropriate. “Wet” Media is a course in itself. The subject will certainly not be ignored in our study of the history of drawing.

 Various sources: study of master drawings done by ink & pen (including washes).

A SURVEY OF THE HISTORY OF DRAWING

There were others before us! Learn from their mastery.

In this drawing course we integrate the History of Drawing with our instruction and our practice. Can’t be avoided.

Each session focus on at least one past master, period or school of drawing & painting. Much can be learned from how artists of one period received or rebelled against their own past masters.

Mendelowitz above all, Aristides, Goldstein, Hale & Collins; various histories of art, biographies of landmark artists.

 * * *

UNDERSTANDING LIGHT & SHADOW: PART ONE

(The Ryder Way)

[two lessons]

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THE LAW OF CHIAROSCURO: First Thing about Light

What is the first thing to be said about Light?Of course we’ll concentrate on Caravaggio: the man revolutionized the doing of art. Yet the intense play of Light & Shadow was there before Caravaggio, and we, whatever our “style”, are bound to its pictorial law.

NOTE: We are building on what was learned in our introduction of Line, Value & Form.

So what is this law?

As much as the pencil in hand, or the paper on the board, Light is both a subject of our art & a tool.

The Impressionists assumed that Light was the supreme subject of a drawing or painting; that it was the play of Light which was the only concern of drawing and painting. They yielded to Light’s mastery, even lordship. Yet, they exaggerated their pictorial discovery! Caravaggio had understood more, and better. Light is glorious for what it does, not for what it is. Light is a tool. It serves – in the case of art – the representation of form and figure.

In this lesson, we begin to understand – and put into practice – the many facet face of Light: its abundant ways of casting itself upon our world. In working this out with pencil and brush we come to see that Light is more of a tool than a subject. It serves to make visible form and figure. Light presents other objects to us, not itself.

And, then, there are Shadows! Shadows are where Light shines. The making of shadows is where Light puts rubber to the road and bangs into our world. Shadow is not the absence of Light, but its announcement.

Primarily Ryder (complimented by Aristides & Goldstein)

THE LAW OF CHIAROSCURO: First Thing about Value

Light & Shadow fall upon the objects of our world – and, supremely upon the human form. Better put, Light falls and lights up the objects and bodies around us by gifting them with Shadows.

The intensity of Light upon an object is the voice of Light; the intensity of Shadow is the silence of Light: though, oddly enough, maybe its loudest revealer.   How this plays out in our drawing and painting is the appearance of Value.

Value is a technical term to describe the gradations of Light upon an object or form: from full glare brightness to dark deep Shadows.

So how does one do Value? The answer to that is the remainder of our lessons.

Now, this point about Light:

Artists talk much about Light (see above) for without Light there is no sight, no looking about; without Light the human form is more than just lifeless, it is made dull. Yet, Light was made for Man; it roils and shines about us to serve us.

[sup.]

 * * *

 THE BLOCK-IN

 (The “Ryder Way”)

 [four lessons]

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THE ENVELOPE & THE BLOCK-IN

After studying, absorbing, and “sighting” what’s before us, the first step is the Block-In.

The types & functions of line have already been tackled. Here we apply what we learned in our inaugural translation of the figure onto paper (the “ground”).

“The Block-In is the simplified two-dimensional shape of the model [live or other] . . . It is constructed of line segments that connect points located along the outline of the figure to form an angular, irregular, geometric shape.”

This is a two stage process: the encompassing envelope and its break-out (or down) into large form blocks.

No, this is not what children do – what you did when you picked up your first crayon. This is the most basic, toolish skill you will learn. Much mental and imaginative preparation goes into that first stroke.

Primarily Ryder (complimented by Aristides & Goldstein)

USING MEASUREMENT (Part 1):  Introduction

Keep in mind, with the “Ryder Way” of drawing the human figure there is “no preset proportional formulae”: arm, leg, or torso, measured as so many units, usually defined as “heads of the figure” (we discussed this above).

Yet, Measurement is crucial in translating the human figure onto paper or canvas.   Indeed, “we rely on careful observation [by] developing a sense of proportion through two basic exercises: Point to Point Measurement & Tilt Measurement.”

[sup.]

USING MEASUREMENT (Part 2):  Point-to-Point Measurement & Tilt Measurement

Listen up! We will stay on this until we get it.

Point to Point: “The ability to measure the distance between any two points on the model [live or other] and then checking it against the drawing”. Used “for gauging distance around the form [figure]. . . and across the form [figure].” This develops into measuring proportion using caliper (or relational) vision & triangulation: whatever this is, the lesson goes headlong into it.

Tilt: “Measurement of the Tilts of the lines. Tilt and distance are intrinsically connected to one another.” To know the distance between two points one must “know the tilt of the line connecting them”.

[sup.]

NON-PARALLELISM & TWO SIDES OF FORM 

Whereas Point to Point & Tilt measurement “are exacting, objective, and mathematical”, the relationship between any “two opposing sides of the form [of the block-in shape] are never parallel. This is the principle of Non-Parallelism.”

Knowing how this principle works – and how to apply it – is “the key to a more profound way of seeing and drawing”. In brief, you are beginning to translate the life, the essence, of the object or figure onto paper and canvas. In short, you are on your way in becoming a true craftsman.

 [sup.]

 * * *

UNDERSTANDING GESTURE

 (The “Ryder Way”)

 [three lessons]

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GESTURE: Introduction

Gesture is life and movement. It is the energy inherent in the form of the [human figure] . . . coursing through [the] whole body”. Drawing in the act of “literally & figuratively”putting the body’s energy onto paper and canvass. (Same holds for “still life” and “landscape”.)

The artist’s chore is to properly read and translate human Gesture – the body’s visible movement and its interior energy.

The how to do it, as Ryder reminds us, “is not a technique, or a ‘thing’. It is not one of the steps to [his] drawing method”. It is a way of looking, of interpreting. From the very first stroke of the Block-In – see above – the expression of Gesture is both the controlling (originating) motive for drawing and its goal.

Let’s quote Ryder here, for its summary of Art’s motive and goal is near perfect:

“Gesture is the model action, and is expressed in the form of the body and its motion. Sitting, standing, and leaning are actions . . . but there’s much more to gesture than that. For example, even if the model is posing very quietly, and is keeping very still, she’s still sitting in a particular way – this is a manifestation of her body language and tells us a lot about what she’s like as a person. And beyond that, the model isn’t just sitting. She is also actively living. Life is expressing itself in every part of her body, visible in each part’s unique shape. All living forms have this quality.”

Primarily Ryder (complimented by Aristides & Goldstein)

ACTIVE & PASSIVE SIDE OF FORM 

Movement in the body is done “by an alternation of muscular contraction and relaxation . . . opposite sides of the [bodily] form are always different from each other: when one is Active, the other is Passive.”

To translate the figure on paper or canvas one must understand how the Active & Passive Sides of bodily movement operate. Even with figurative drawing which attempts to be interpretative or abstract the artist must account for the Active & Passive nature of movement (gesture).

[sup.]

THE INNER CURVE  

Not only must the Active & Passive shapes of the body be attended to, the artist must also discover the “fluid, underlying, curvilinear path[ways]“ of the figure.

These pathways are the Inner Curves of the block-in shape.

“The Inner Curve is the imaginary line that runs through the forms of the body like a thread . . . as if it were a kind of electricity, a gestural current. . .” The result, as Ryder vividly puts it, “carries and directs the gestural movement [within the bodily shape] the way banks channel a stream”.

The secret of doing “body parts” well – such as the pesky forms of the hand – lies here.

[sup.]

 * * *

THE CONTOUR

 (The “Ryder Way”)

 [three lessons}

 * *

THE CONTOUR: Introduction

The Block-In – with its goal of understanding Gesture – is Ryder’s first phase of this drawing method. The Contour is the second.

The Contour are curved lines which “represents the specific forms that appear along the silhouette” of the (Gestured) Block-In. These are the convex and concave bulges of the body’s surface in three-dimensional space: forms that “all neatly fit together”.

Now we are going to see that the body in space has no edges (hard or soft). The “contour is the horizon of the rounded form of the body. Like a line of hills on the horizon, the contour is the visual edge where the form turns away, out of sight.”

It is vital that we understand this observation, turn it into a habit. It comes as near to a Law of Drawing as one can get.

Primarily Ryder (complimented by Aristides & Goldstein)

DRAWING THE CONTOUR  

There are Contours along the silhouette of the form and within its interior.

Drawing Contours is a many facet operation. Much needs to be visualized: Contours and their arcs; the Contour’s amplitude or fullness; the degree of curves; whether the curvature is “lean” or “fat”; locating a curve’s “point of origin” and “point of insertion”. And so forth!

It takes understanding. It takes practice. But, above all, it takes seeing (vision).

[sup.]

FORM OF THE BODY

“The study of the Contour brings us to the study of the Form of the Body itself.” Gaining “an exacting account of [the body’s] surface, in all its subtle refinement.”

This is “more than just careful observation. It also requires an understanding of the principles of the Form of the Body.” In short, a knowledge of the body’s anatomy, both its skeletal and muscular forms.

This is why in The Drawing Fellowship we track our study of Drawing Fundamentals along with Anatomy, with Composition, and even with the History of Drawing.

The study of the body’s anatomy is not a dry, technical subject. It is here where we see (know) the body’s created glory. Such an effort helps us to grasp the Fullness of the body’s forms. “Fullness expresses presence in space. Full forms appear to have mass, weight, and substance.”

In addition, “there are two somewhat paradoxical ways of seeing the form of the body: as continuous and as discrete . . . Both of these ways of seeing coexists in the contour, and find expression on a practical level. The continuous view sees the surface of the body as seamless, unified and fluid . . .The distinct view sees the body’s surface as composed of many distinct, identifiable [forms].”

This knowledge is crucial; for the temptation is to see “the body as a collection of separate parts”. Such a way of looking invites pictorial error.

[sup.]

 * * *

UNDERSTANDING LIGHT & SHADOW: PART TWO

 (The “Ryder Way”)

 [five lessons]

 * *

LIGHT & SHADOW: Introduction

“The third and final phase of this drawing method is called Drawing on the Inside.” This “is done by using gradations of tone. A tone is a patch of shading of a certain value, or degree of darkness. A gradation of tone is an area of shading in which there is a gradual passing from one degree of darkness to another.”

It is here were the act of drawing becomes serious, reaches maturity.

Can’t do better than to keep on quoting Ryder:

“The real core of inside drawing is the ability to recognize the appearance of the [figure], which is gained through knowledge of light and form. . . In other words, you have to know what you’re drawing before you can understand how to draw it.”

In short, you are not drawing the figure; you are drawing the appearance of the figure.

Primarily Ryder (complimented by Aristides & Goldstein)

REPRESENTING LIGHT 

Drawing Light – better, the fall of Light upon the form – is more than just recording the figure by patches of shading. Success lies in translating the quality of light: its “luminosity”, its “glow”, its “shine”, its degree of “intensity”.

This is done by “shaping the light . . . building [it] up in one place and tapering it off in another.” Light Shaping must take into account all the factors to light’s intensity upon the form. Too many to summarize here, but we will study them. The point is to capture the character of Light – and Shadow, for that too is a living thing!

[sup.]

INTERACTION OF LIGHT & FORM 

Light takes “on the form of everything we see around us. . .[We must] analyze its behavior and build its action into our drawings . . .The behavior of light is lawful and mathematically correct. Light brings us information in an orderly way.” Drawing well means knowing these laws.

We know the Laws of Light by observing its Interaction with (upon) Forms. Forms transmit light, or they reflect light, or they absorb light. Light reveals (or receives) its character by its interaction of the (nature of) the surface of the form: be it a speck on one’s shoe or the earth seen from the moon.

[sup.]

ELEMENTS OF THE INTERACTION: The Light Source, the Figure (Model), and the Observer

[Don’t be surprised – or upset – that we didn’t list you, the artist!]

Here we enter the difficult stage, the chore of getting a pictorial grip on what makes a drawing (or painting) work. That labor involves the integration of a drawing’s three nodes (or poles): the Light Source, the Figure (Model), and the Observer.

The various strands strung together are too many to list: from Light’s multiple sources to its distance from the form lit upon; now alighted, Light’s phases, its angles, the “cut” of its fall upon the surface; and how all this busyness of Light is formed and molded by the form (the figure), itself, which interacts with it.

[sup.]

LIGHT& SHADOW ON THE FIGURE: Shadow Edges & Value Progression  

We may be accused of a “classical” understanding of Light that there is a Primary Light Source & a Secondary (or Reflected) Light Source – but this accounts for the lively encounter these two sources have upon the form or figure.

“The [lit up] side [of the figure] is ruled by the single light source, called the primary light. The shadow side is ruled by a much weaker light source, called the secondary, or reflected light . . . of the primary light into the shadow side . . . They meet at a complex set of borders, the edges of the shadows.

Here, we do the unexpected: we study not Light, but Shadow.

Shadow has many characteristics, types and functions. We will touch upon them all: review how Shadow was depicted in the Great Masters of drawing & painting. It is more than the absence of Light, Shadow takes command of Light’s movement, throws a dark cast on Light’s purpose.

We learn to master the most visible character of Shadow: the edges it casts upon the form or figure, and the decreasing or increasing progression of value across the contours of figure.

Even the most brightly lit patch of Light on a form cannot escape being defined by Shadow, with its edges and casting values. Light is nothing more than shadow giving it shine, showing it up.

[sup.]

* * *

UNDERSTANDING FORM ON THE INSIDE

(The “Ryder Way”)

[five lessons]

* *

INSIDE FORM: Introduction

“We lay out the groundwork (the Block-In, the Gesture, and Contour) so patiently and methodically” for one reason – “to construct the form on the inside” of the figure.

Same principles hold for the drawing of Line, but now the focus is on Tone as the means to express the fullness of Form.

The figure’s Inside Form is a complex of curves and contours: forms which “turn up towards the light” or “turn down away from the light”.

In learning to draw these out we concentrate on the “degree of value change and tonal progression”.

Primarily Ryder (complimented by Aristides & Goldstein)

FULLNESS 

Visually, the human body is “made of multiple convex forms . . . outwardly rounded [with] subtle borders”. Learning how to tone this out with progressive shading brings out the Fullness of the human figure.

The figure’s complex of convex forms is anchored on the body’s larger underlying forms of skeleton and muscle – which is why we study the fundamentals of Anatomy with each lesson.

[sup.]

CONTINUITY & DISCRETENESS 

Forms have edges, however discrete.

“Tonal progressions begin and end at the border of forms. Within each form the progression is continuous. But between forms the tone change is discontinuous, meaning there is a sudden, abrupt vale change.” In addition, all these multiple convex forms do connect, wedge upon and under each other. But how so?

Teasing out the vision here; that’s our chore in this lesson.

The human body is continuous, but appears discontinuous. The “trick” is to locate the Golden Ratio (Mean) between smoothness and over-modeling: the temptation of making forms too discrete, too obvious. The besetting sin here is drawing the viewer’s attention to one’s technique and not to the subject (or objective) of the drawing or painting.

Understanding this hold even when the artist wanders away from figurative drawing or painting into Abstract, Symbolism, or any other mode.

[sup.]

EFFECT OF THE GESTURE 

As Ryder reminds us, the body gestures all the time: “flexing, extending, turning, suspending and compressing . . . gestures are more than physical movement; they are bodily expressions of mood and intent. Gestures embed reason and purpose . . . The gestural action reconfigures . . . the body[‘s] plasticity. Its forms change radically. There are no normal forms, but there are ‘normal actions’”.

Do not much like the term, in this lesson we will “unpack” Ryder’s zeroing in on this crucial observersation.

A Master Artist submits his craft to capturing the body’s gestures. He disciplines his vision, his ways and methods, in order to picture them out.

[sup.]

ORGANIZATION: The Pathways of Form

“The surface of the body is orderly . . . patterned after the nature of other natural forms, like wood, for instance with its grains, water with its waves . . . patterns [that] have a rhythmic quality.”

The body’s pattern is “related to the underlying anatomical structures, as well as to the action of the pose and the light direction.” All these contribute to the body’s “ Pathways of Form: strings of formal elements that appear to line up on the surface of the body . . .providing a network by which all individual forms may be located. By scanning along the pathways one develops a sense of the proportional and positional relationships of the various forms.”

PATHWAY is the key term. As LANDSCAPE is for the following lesson. Master these, and the craft is yours. From this point on, it’s all about observation and practice.

[sup.]

* * *

DRAWING ON THE INSIDE

(The “Ryder Way”)

[three lessons]

* *

DRAWING THE INSIDE:  Introduction

Nothing different here – but there is!

All the principles learned above for the Block-In, for Gesture, the Contour – which are expressed mostly by line – are now applied, exclusively, by tone. For what is being captured is the body’s complex of irregular, “converging, turning, twisting forms that have changing degrees of curvature”

This, by now, is nothing new. Here we master and apply it with a disciplined vengeance. We are out to show the lawfulness of what we have learned.

“It boils down to basic skills: carefully spreading graphite onto the surface of the paper in a controlled way (the manual technique of drawing on the inside), and developing your washes of shading in a logical sequence (the procedural technique).” In short, mastering the Shaping of Light and the mastering of the Shading Process.

Primarily Ryder (complimented by Aristides & Goldstein)

SHAPING THE LIGHT

It’s very easy to miss the quality of light if you’re just copying values. Instead, you need to shape the light. This means molding the amount of light for each form . .”How to do this? By taking everything learned, up to this point, an putting it at the service of creating tone.

You already know what tone is: it is the movement, the gesture of light over form and the figure. It is the gesture of light meeting its match with the gesture of the body – making the human figure both visible and interpreted.

This is about the convergence, the harmony, of the human act of creation and creation’s own orderliness. The creation of tone – the image of the fullness of the form and figure – is the pictorial obedience to a certain lawfulness.

Again, how do we do this in drawing the human figure? It is – bottom line – an act of discovery: one which comes by mastery of techniques, methods, material, and, not least, a disciplined looking-about upon the world before us – as those who came before us.

In practice, it’s the art of mastering hatching & cross-hatching to record what is seen; and, more importantly, understanding what is seen.

[sup.]

THE SHADING  

As we said above, shading (the art of making shadow) is a function of light casting, gesturing.

Light does this to show up the web-like, intersecting “continuous tonal progression [across the figure], a progression consisting of many sub-progressions.”

We build up this skill of tonal progression by “locating landmarks on the inside. . . landmarks [which] are associated with underlying anatomical structures, but they aren’t identical with the structures themselves.”

Landmarks are something utterly other, related to how both light and the human figure moves and gestures.

As Ryder tells us, “. . . landmarks . . . are tonal in nature: [form] terminators, cast shadow edges, dark accents, downturns in the light, contours on the inside.”

Landmarks are what the mature artist uses as guides: locating and connecting these visual markers so the human figure reveals (even incarnates) itself upon the paper.

Here the artist, as craftsman, becomes both the master and servant of his art.

[sup.]

* * *

SUPPLEMENTAL LESSONS:

Perspective, Proportion & Foreshortening of the Human Figure

[six lessons]

* *

INTRODUCTION TO PERSPECTIVE:  As Related to the Human Figure (the various Types and Functions)

The Human Body is always seen in situ – on site, that is within space & time: domiciled, if your will, in particular locales and situations.So, how does the human figure “fit” within these pictorial planes?That is the question we introduce here – with much assistance from our lessons on Composition (see section below).

We don’t see the human body in isolation but as fitted into time & space. In short, we are looking at relationships: the body’s relation to its physical world; the body’s relation to the artist’s interior sight, and the viewer’s relation to the pictorial, represented body.

Within “The Ryder Way” Perspective (as with the concepts of Proportion & Foreshortening) is not isolated and taught as a special concept. The method’s “holistic” approach introduces Perspective within each stage of its instruction. This is especially helpful when relating the concept of Perspective to the human figure..

Yet, there still remains good reason to tackle the subject of Perspective as a separate concept – if only to calm the natural anxiety of the beginning student regarding this “technical” concept.

Finally, it is in the study of Proportion & Foreshortening where the concept of Perspective is all penciled out. (see below)

Various, but primarily N. Goldstein, G. Bammeos, W. Maugham (for the head & face), and J. Aristides

INTRODUCTION TO PROPORTION:  As Related to the Human Figure

Everything said above regarding Perspective applies here to Proportion.

Our body “parts” – by a stubborn fact of nature – are proportionally related with each other. This is the working out of the body’s Golden Rule: the norm (or standard) by which the human body is organized and visually known.

The Golden Rule also organizes the body’s relation to its physical world. All else, in our picturing-out of the human figure, is derivative. Whenever an art “style”- as in Symbolism or most Post-Modern methods – appears to rebel against the Golden Rule (Law) it can do so, and claim any kind of success, by exaggerating or distorting the Rule (the Law), not by denying or dismissing it.

How, then, do we handle the quite obvious variations from the Golden Norm found in nature? All those common variety of Body Types: of age, weight, family inheritance, race, even those due by tragedy of injury or deformation?

In life, the Golden Norm is rarely observed in perfect form. Yet still, the Golden Norm (or Rule) is known to us through the actual, living variances and derivations of the human figure.  By knowing and accepting the Golden Rule of the human body, we see the human body more fully in spite of – or should we say, because – it falls short of the mark.

(If I may insert a bit of philosophy here: grasping the point of this is the art of knowing one’s Plato through one’s Aristotle.)

As you can sense, we’ll be spending several sessions on this lesson. Our take is different from most, in that we see the pictorial notion of Proportion (of perspective & foreshortening) as one aspect of the more important, overarching (controlling) concept of Gesture & Movement.

In some drawing methods the study of proportions – as with translating the figure into geometrical solids and shapes – stays on top of the list of skills to master, and is much drawn out, so to speak. Such an approach has a good pedigree, and there is much to be learned from it. Yet for us – in the “Ryder Way” – we will let Gesture & Movement be the master of our looking at, across, and down the human figure.

In this lesson the artistic boots really, truly hit the ground running, and all that. We will incorporate what we learn here in all the lessons.

[sup.]

NOTE: There is a standard classic approach in studying (and drawing) the human figure, called Constructionism.  It’s a respected and tested method, but not one used within the “Ryder Way”.
Constructionism tackles the human form as solids and shapes. Its first step is the reduction (the visualization) of the human figure into its various geometric parts; the second is the discovery of their relations.   We will note its contribution to the drawing of the human figure by reviewing how the Masters made use of it.
The premier modern teacher of the Constructionist Method was George Bridgmans.

INTRODUCTION TO FORESHORTENING:  As Related to the Human Figure

Everything said above regarding Perspective applies here to Foreshortening.

Foreshortening is related to Perspective & Proportion. This is the notion of “fitting” a properly proportioned figure of 3-dimensial space within a 2-dimensial picture plane. Mastering this involves more than just following certain “rules”; it is a way of seeing, a learned habit of looking upon the world in a pictorial manner. What is it about objects in 3-dimensional space which makes them “fit” upon our 2-dimensionall paper and canvas?

[sup.]

INTRODUCTION TO GEOMETRIC SOLIDS & FORMS:  As Related to the Human Figure.

The human figure can be visualized as Geometric Solids & Forms.

A whole method of drawing called Constructionism has evolved around this insight [see note above]. Seeing the body this way can be helpful as long as it is understood that the body cannot, ultimately, be reduced to its geometric allusions.

The key is knowing the language of translation which relates geometry to the human figure. In fact, the term translation is an excellent way to grasp the purpose and goal of any drawing “method”. More on this.

Goldstein (basic), Aristides (perfect), Berry, Maughan, Mendelowitz

A NOTE ON BODY TYPES: Sex, Age, Weight, Racial. etc.

This is where the central drawing concept of Gesture and Contour – the heart of the “Ryder Way” – comes into full play. It is here, in translating what we see, that we record the world as it is (in its existence).

Better yet, it is artist translating the world as it presents itself – through pencil and brush upon paper and canvas. This is the intersection where the art is conceived and born.

Yet, being true to all the world’s variance and variety – and out ways of looking upon it – is based on a faithful knowledge of the Norm, the Golden Rule, of the human figure. (Much practicum spent here.)

Various

STUDYING PAST MASTERS 

Master Drawings are used and studied in all the above sections. Here we test our accumulated knowledge and practice by pitting it against even more!

Various

* * *

SUPPLEMENTAL LESSONS

Nathan Goldstein

[eight lessons]

The Art of Responsive Drawing by Nathan Goldstein

Figure Drawing:  Structure, Anatomy and Expressive Design of the Human Form by Nathan Goldstein

* * *

COMMON DENOMINATORS & THE EMERGENCE OF INTERPRETIVE FIGURE DRAWING: Introduction of Goldstein’s Philosophy of Drawing.

Cannot recommend Nathan Goldstein enough! He has a more expansive, philosophical approach to drawing than Anthony Ryder.

For structuring our lessons, we stay with Ryder, with his superb method of organizing the vision of the human form. But we will, here, dig into Goldstein’s rich pictorial vein.  Find gold.

THE STRUCTURAL FACTOR (Part 1) 

To be used with Ryder’s lessons on Gesture & Contours. The planar approach, inter-joining planes & masses.

THE STRUCTURAL FACTOR (Part 2)

To be used with Ryder’s lessons on Gesture & Contours. Aspects of foreshortening; seeing shape, direction & edge.

THE DESIGN FACTOR (Part 1): The Visual Elements

To be used with Ryder’s lessons on Gesture & Contours. Line, value, shape, volume, texture.

THE DESIGN FACTOR (Part 2): The Elements of Action

To be used with Ryder’s lessons on Gesture & Contours. Direction, rhythm, location, visual weight, tension.

THE EXPRESSIVE FACTOR (Part 1) 

To be used with Ryder’s lessons on Gesture & Contours. General observations. Expression of the elements.

THE EXPRESSIVE FACTOR (Part 2) 

To be used with Ryder’s lessons on Gesture & Contours. Distortion. Expressive role of the medium.

PATHOLOGIES OF FIGURE DRAWING 

Perceptual Defects, Organizational Defects, Expressive Defects.

* * *

SUPPLEMENTAL LESSONS

Juliette Aristides

[nine lessons]

Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice by Juliettte Aristides

Lessons in Classical Drawing Atelierby Juliette Aristides

* *

THE GOLDEN RULE (MEAN/ NORM)

The Golden Rule is the “Natural Law” of drawing. What is it?   Why has the Golden Rule persisted as both a tool in drawing & painting, and a way of interpreting the world about us?

NEGATIVE SHAPES 

Why the blank or negative within or around a figure have the same visual weight – or authority – as the worked-out form.

THE “RIGHT SIZE” METHOD 

Some call this a trick of the trade: eyeballing the live (or cast) model, registering its measurements, and transposing that to paper. It takes more than skill, its takes confidence, a trust in your practiced perception as an artist.

TWO-DIMENSIONAL DYNAMICS 

Objects, and the human figure, fit into two-dimensional space by obeying certain rules: the rules of perspective, proportion, and the others introduced above. (Yes, “obey”. The artist can’t avoid that demand, even as he bends the rules for expressive purposes.)

THREE-DIMENSIONAL DYNAMICS 

The same holds, as with above, for three-dimensional space.

ARIEL PERSPECTIVE 

A special way of “fitting” objects and the figure into two & three dimensional space – as from above. J. Aristides has a unique way of observing the “trick” of this.

GEOMETRIC SOLID FORMS 

To be used with the Goldstein & Ryder lessons above.

MASTER COPY DRAWING 

An old-fashion practice: copying Old Master Drawings.

A selection of artists from primary periods and schools of drawing.

Of course, because of our prior lessons and practice, we will be interpreting (translating) how we see these Old master Drawings, just as we interpret a live model and the visual world about us. That’s called, visual confidence.

CAST DRAWING 

Same as above, except, here, we are drawing from Cast Copies of well-known examples of sculpture, beginning with Greek & Roman. The famous Greek sculpture commonly titled “The Dying Gaul” will be our first piece. You’ll be surprised how this practice fine-tunes your other visual skills.

* * *

SUPPLEMENTAL LESSONS:

The Head, Hands, Feet

(in Conjunction with Anatomy Lessons, below)

[twenty-three lessons]

 The Artist’s Complete Guide to Drawing the Head by William Maughan

Drawing the Head and Handsby Andrew Loomis

The Artist’s Complete Guide to Facial Expressionby Gary Faigin

Secrets to Drawing Headsby Alan Kraayvanger

Drawing Hands and Feet: Proportions, Gestures and Actions by Giovanni Civardi

* * *

THE HEAD (General)

“Sculpting” the head via pencil & paper. Obeying the laws of head & facial anatomy.

Why? Because this is the foundation on which gesture and expression are built. Our tendency is to go straight to facial expression; but without anchoring the surface to what’s deeper, our attempt at gesture and expression falters – worse, it veers towards the superficial.

Mostly Maugham & Faigin w/ Goldstein, Berry, and Aristides

GESTURE & TILT OF THE HEAD 

More subtleties are here than any other part of the body. Just shows how important it is to get the anatomy right. As with all the lessons focusing on the head and facial expression, mastering the visual language of expression of the face & head directs the expression of the whole body.

[sup.]

PROPORTIONS OF THE HEAD:  Based on Age & Sex

Previously, we learned the “tricks” of proper proportion for the whole body. There are proportions unique to the head, mostly based on age & sex.

Once more, these lessons will assist us in “getting the head & face right”. Not only for itself, for the head, and its facial features, are used to determine proportion for the rest of the figure. Time, once more, to double down in “getting it right”.

[sup.]

THE LAW OF CHIAROSCURO: Applied to the Head & Facial Expression

The shadows hold the keys. Facial physical features cast shadows in response to facial expressions. Shadows speak the subject’s mood, intent, voice; reveals the subject’s experience with his world, informed by his past.

You didn’t think one could get so much from what looks like the color black. Black is no negative. Black is the deep bottom pool into which catching the cascade of very color, and very light fall.

[sup.]

LESSONS FROM HISTORY 

Observing how Past Masters handled the larger features of the head & facial expression is part of every lesson. Here, we focus on a select few.

Various

FACE: Full View

Full View is the more difficult position to draw or paint. NOTE: we will not ignore the “true” (strict) profile view, but it, in fact, has limited value in capturing facial expression and gesture.

Various, mostly Maughan & Faigin

FACE:  3/4 View

Mastering the 3/4 View has, traditionally, been one of the marks of a master artist. Nothing has changed. Why the 3/4 view, especially? You’ll see. [sup.]

FACE: Male Specific

Crucial, for it bears down on the end result. Just ask about Rembrandt, and his end result success; or, Picasso, and the failure of his end result. [sup.]

FACE: Female Specific

Crucial, for it bears down on the end result. Just ask about Sargent, and his end result success; or, Gauguin, and the failure of his end result. [sup.]

THE EYES & BROW (Pt. 1) 

The best way to get this under your skill belt is by paying close attention to the corresponding Anatomy Lesson, and by observing and copying dozens of Past Masters. [sup.]

THE EYES & BROW (Pt. 2)

Ditto. [sup.]

THE NOSE & MOUTH & CHIN (Pt. 1)

Ditto. [sup.]

THE NOSE & MOUTH & CHIN (Pt. 2) 

Ditto. [sup.]

THE EAR 

Ditto. [sup.]

LESSONS FROM HISTORY 

Observing how Past Masters handled the finer details of the head and facial expression is part of every lesson. Here, we focus on a select few.  [Various]

HANDS

Second – maybe equal – to the head & face, the hands & fingers carry the weight of human expression. Points regarding the head & face, above, are posted here.

The best way to get this under your skill belt is by paying close attention to the corresponding Anatomy Lesson, and by observing and copying the work of Past Masters.

Mostly Kraayvanger & Civardi,   w/ Goldstein, Berry, and Aristides

THE FINGERS 

Ditto. [sup.]

THE WRIST

Ditto. [ sup.]

LESSONS FROM HISTORY 

Observing how Past Masters handled the hands & wrist head and facial expression is part of every lesson. Here, we focus on a select few.  [Various]

THE FOOT (General)

Second – maybe equal – to the head & face, the hands & fingers carry the weight of human expression. Points regarding the head & face, above, are posted here.

The best way to get this under your skill belt is by paying close attention to the corresponding Anatomy Lesson, and by observing and copying dozens of Past Masters.

Mostly Kraayvanger & Civardi,   w/ Goldstein, Berry, and Aristides

THE TOES 

Ditto. [sup.]

THE ANKLE 

Ditto. [sup.]

LESSONS FROM HISTORY Observing how Past Masters handled the foot & ankle is part of every lesson. Here, we focus on a select few.  [Various]

* * *

SUPPLEMENTAL LESSONS

The Hair

[five lessons]

* *

HAIR

Beginning students tend to be quite frustrated with “getting hair right”. Even some established artists never “get it”: both Traditional Figurative artists and Moderns (including the Post-M. types!).

No need to be wary of the challenge.Regarding hair, the trick – if we can call it that – is mostly learning what to avoid. On the positive, it’s grasping the role hair plays in our attempt of expressing the fullness of the human figure.

This is no throw-away issue! History and Everyday experience teaches us that the hair is much involved in our sense of who we are. Out concern, personally or as an artist, is no little thing.The best way to grasp this is to study how Past Masters tackled the technical and emotive issues in expressing hair (head and body).

Various

HAIR: Head (Male)

Including facial hair (beards). [sup.]

HAIR: Head (Female)

We’re not beauticians, we’re artists! [sup.]

HAIR: Body

Again, mostly, it’s knowing what not to do. The key is an emotive one: how (& when) does the inclusion of body hair add to the expressive purpose of the drawn or painted figure?  [sup.]

LESSONS FROM HISTORY

Observing how Past Masters handled the placing of hair on the human figure is part of every lesson. Here, we focus on a select few. [Various]

* * *

SUPPLEMENTAL LESSONS

The Draped Figure

[seven lessons]

The Artist’s Guide to Drawing the Clothed Figureby Michael Massen

The Artist’s Complete Guide to Facial Expressionby Gary Faigin

Figure Drawing:  Structure, Anatomy and Expressive Design of the Human Form  by Nathan Goldstein

Complete Guide to Life Drawing  by Gottfried Barmmes

* *

INTRODUCTION 

We’re stuck being tradition, here. Study of the human body comes first, before we place the human figure within its innumerable ways it lives and is seen.

Though the human figure clothed is how we perceive (and accept) the human body, it is the underlying skeletal and muscular features of the body which give clothing (the drapery) its gesture and meaning. In short, clothes hang on something!

Clothing on the human figure communicates the person’s fundamental nature and character; but it can only do that work if we have a clear picture of its relation to the whole body.

Mostly, Massen, Faggin, Goldstein, et.al.

THE ANATOMY OF DRAPERY: Folds, Cling, etc.

See, right off we begin our study of drapery with honing our sight in seeing its relationship with the underlying structures of the body. [sup.]

DRAPERY TYPES 

Picturing-out the he different types of drapery (clothing). Expressing clothing as fabric and as they “take to the body”. [sup.]

DRAPERY AND POSES 

Expanding on Lesson Three: clothing “behaves” differently depending on the pose the figure takes; whether this the model in formal poses, or the artist is attempting to sketch (out in the field) people in their everyday lives. [sup.]

DRAPERY AND MOVEMENT 

Clothing puts on a different character when the body is seen in movement. It has another to play in our little pictorial drama of picturing-out the human figure. Here, what we have learned about the crucial concept of gesture comes into full play.  [sup.]

DRAPERY TRICKS, TIPS & SHORTCUTS 

Just what it says! Why not? [sup.]

LESSONS FROM HISTORY 

Copy. Copy. Copy. Practice. Practice. Practice. [sup.]

* * *

SESSIONS WITH LIVE MODELS

[details to be posted]

Restrictions apply regarding Un-draped (Nude) Sessions.

 * * *

HUMAN ANATOMY

A Word from the Artist

The genius of “The Ryder Way” is its uncluttered focus on visible, on the bodily form of the human figure seen and communicated to the artist through its integrated study of the body’s masses, contours, landmarks and gesture within space.

Even the genius of the “Ryder Way” is anchored on the foundation of the human figure: the body’s skeletal and muscular forms.   Can’t avoid it.

Let’s quote Benvenuto Cellini (d.1571): . . the important thing . . . is to draw a nude man and a nude woman well. To remember them securely one much go to the foundations . . . which is their bones. When you have memorized a skeleton you can never make a mistake when drawing a figure, either nude or clothes; and this is saying a lot.

Cellini is correct, but don’t misunderstand him. We’re not medical students; this is not an anatomy course to prepare physicians and nurses!   Cellini’s admonition to memorize the skeleton (and muscles) was given to artists.

The work of memorization – the taking of something in as second-nature – is done as a draftsman or painter observes the human body: as he sees the human form with a looking-about which the physician does not. Regarding the looking at of bones and muscles, the way of the artist is a unique knowing.

Let’s quote a contemporary master teacher, Joseph Sheppard: . . . the surface forms [are] created by the bones and muscles beneath the skin . . . [instruction should] focus only on those bones and muscles that are shown with particular clarity in [the] pose.

So settle down, settle back, and take your lessons!

Sessions are based on texts by Sheppard, Berry, Maugham, Goldstein, Goldfinger, Bammeos, Hale & Coyle & Hale and Benjamin Rifkin.

 * * *

INTRODUCTION

[two lessons]

* *

OVERVIEW OF ANATOMY FOR THE ARTIST

The “why” and the “how to” for studying Anatomy. Once one grasps the larger picture – why what’s underneath shapes the surface – then the study of Anatomy has a beauty of its own for the artist. Focusing on Peck’s three primary principles: Equilibrium (& Compensation), Locomotion, and Surface Landmarks.

Various sources.

A SURVEY OF ANATOMY IN THE HISTORY OF DRAWING

The “progress” (if that’s the right term) of drawing & painting can be tracked by the part the study of Anatomy had in guiding drawing & painting towards its maturity.

Various sources, but primarily Hale, Coyle & Hale and Benjamin Rifkin

* * *

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Understanding the integrated forms of the skeletal & muscular systems

[nineteen lessons]

* *

FRONTAL VIEW:  MALE & FEMALE (Skeletal & Muscular)

Before one studies those aspects of the human form which tend to frustrate the student (How does one draw the mouth or hand, and such?) best, first, to master the “global”, the integrated larger forms of the human body. For these lessons, mostly Joseph Sheppard. He pares it down to the essentials. It is not so much a subtraction, a taking away of what needs to be learned, but honing the discipline to see the human body as various “wholes”

BACK VIEW:  MALE & FEMALE (Skeletal & Muscular)

[Ditto as above] [sup.]

SIDE VIEW: MALE & FEMALE (Skeletal & Muscular)

[Ditto as above] [sup.]

DISCOVERING, LEARNING & REMEMBERING OUR OWN BODIES 

These are kinetic, hands-on lessons on understanding our own bodily skeletal and muscular forms.   In this session, the Hand & Forearm.

Here we are following the unique program of understanding anatomy of Anthony Apesos. [sup. Apesos]

STANDING FIGURE (FRONT):  MALE & FEMALE (Skeletal & Muscular)

[sup.#1]  [sup.Sheppard]

DISCOVERING, LEARNING & REMEMBERING OUR OWN BODIES 

Movement of the Elbow & Upper Forearm [sup. Apesos]

STANDING FIGURE (BACK):  MALE & FEMALE  (Skeletal & Muscular)

[sup.#1]  [sup.Sheppard]

DISCOVERING, LEARNING & REMEMBERING OUR OWN BODIES 

The Rib Cage & Shoulder Girdle  [sup. Apesos]

STANDING FIGURE (3/4 VIEW): MALE & FEMALE  (Skeletal & Muscular)

[sup.#1]  [sup.Sheppard]

DISCOVERING, LEARNING & REMEMBERING OUR OWN BODIES

The Foot & Lower Leg [sup. Apesos]

STANDING FIGURE (SIDE): MALE & FEMALE  (Skeletal & Muscular)

[sup.#1]  [sup.Sheppard]

DISCOVERING, LEARNING & REMEMBERING OUR OWN BODIES

The Thigh & Pelvis [sup. Apesos]

SEATED FIGURE (FRONT): MALE & FEMALE  (Skeletal & Muscular)

[sup.#1]  [sup.Sheppard]

DISCOVERING, LEARNING & REMEMBERING OUR OWN BODIES 

The Abdomen & the Muscles of the Erect Posture. [sup. Apesos]

SEATED FIGURE (BACK): MALE & FEMALE  (Skeletal & Muscular)

[sup.#1]  [sup.Sheppard]

DISCOVERING, LEARNING & REMEMBERING OUR OWN BODIES 

The Head & Neck [sup. Apesos]

SEATED FIGURE (3/4 VIEW): MALE & FEMALE (Skeletal & Muscular)

[sup.#1] [sup.Sheppard]

SEATED FIGURE (SIDE): MALE & FEMALE (Skeletal & Muscular)

[sup.#1]  [sup.Sheppard]

RECLINING FIGURE: MALE & FEMALE (Skeletal & Muscular)

[sup.#1]  [sup.Sheppard]

* * *

ANATOMICAL PARTS & PIECES!

(Skeletal & Muscular Forms are studied together)

[twenty lessons]

* *

THE SKULL:  Larger Features
[will stay on this lesson for several sessions]

Understanding the strikingly few bones of the skull is crucial in “getting the head right”.Various, but primarily

Sheppard, Berry, Maugham, Goldstein, Goldfinger, Bammeos, Hale & Coyle & Hale and Benjamin Rifkin

FACIAL: Larger Features
[will stay on this lesson for several sessions]

The muscles of the face have their own behavioral rules which function differently than the muscle form of the rest of the body. Key to successful drawing.

[sup.]

THE HEAD:  Eyes & Brow

Students are terrified of drawing the eye. Yet, as with small children, they go straight for it, assuming, if they “get the head right”, all will go well with the drawing. In short, the “body part” is isolated from the whole. Not the way to go.

Rule: Seeing the eye as part of everything else calms the anxiety.

[sup.]

THE HEAD: Nose

The nose is not something “stuck on”. Its anchoring into the global feature of the face is crucial in unifying all the facial ‘parts”.

[sup.]

THE HEAD: Mouth & Jaw

Getting these right means understanding (visualizing) the skeletal and muscular unity of both.

[sup.]

THE HEAD: Ear

There’s character in the ear. It expresses!

[sup.]

NECK & SHOULDER 

The head and face – which the viewer rightly wants to zero in on – is anchored to the body (better yet, command it) via the neck and shoulders. Communicating that job correctly on paper means, first, to understand it (visually0 inside and out.[

[sup.]

AXILLA (ARMPIT) & (BACK) GIRDLE:  Including Sex Differentiation

Think of the larger forms the Axilla & Girdle (along with the pelvis) as the body’s major intersection. The “movement “ traffic expressed (controlled) here impacts every gesture of the body. The Sex Differentiation here may not be as visible as the upper torso & the pelvis, but it is significant.

[sup.]

HAND & WRIST 

As with facial features, students tend to waste time fretting getting the Hand “just right”.

The Hand does much: it holds the burden of our wish to express; it reaches out the greater world – something which even the eye envies; it gives preference to touch.

So, it looks like we must “get it right”!  But remember, the Hand is, first, a unit whose membership into the whole body is total. Fingers, back, palms, and wrist: we’re visualizing “wholes”. The drawing concept to keep foremost in mind is always Gesture (Movement) which the Hand is more than willing to release.

[sup.]

ARM:  Forearm & Upper

Against, pointless to separate out. The connecting tissue here is Movement which incorporates the Hand, Wrist, Lower & Upper Arm, and the Shoulder Mass.

[sup.]

TORSO:  Upper & Lower, including Sex Differentiation

Focus: the unity of the breast & rib skeletal form, with their overlaying muscle and fat masses. Visual understanding is crucial: the torso initiates the Larger, Controlling Gestures of the body. Important to get it right.

[sup.]

THE BACK: Upper & Lower

The spinal cord & the overlaying large muscle forms. Think of it as the bedrock (the stabilizer) of the other forms of the body. We’ve already studied the shoulder girdle.

[sup.]

THE PELVIS:  Including Sex Differentiation

The Great Hinge of the human figure. Pictorially, coordinates and balances the masses & movements of the upper and lower body.

[sup.]

THE FOOT 

Same holds here. Pointless to separate fingers, back & palms, and the wrist. Remember, we’re visualizing “wholes”, for the drawing concept to keep foremost in mind is always Gesture (Movement).

[sup.]

LOWER LEG & KNEE 

[Ditto as above] [sup.]

UPPER LEG: Knee (again) & Thigh, including Sex Differentiation

[Ditto as above] [sup.]

A NOTE ON SKIN, FAT & VEINS 

The skin is visually the most striking thing about the drawn or painted figure. Yet, in spite of its high visibility, the skin tends to get lost, smashed and melted away. The skin is its own organ, has its own nature and character. As artists, it must be visually respected. Get to know the skin. What makes it work in an image, regardless of the style or approach? [sup.]

A NOTE ON NAILS & TEETH 

Rarely do these control the drawing of the figure. If too prominent they distract. Yet there is a certain rule regarding their visual expression. [sup.]

A NOTE ON PERSPECTIVE, PROPORTION, FORESHORTENING, & THE GEOMETRIC SOLIDS & FORM OF THE HUMAN FIGURE 

Studied in conjunction with lessons under Supplemental Lessons, above.  [sup.]

A NOTE ON BODY TYPE:  Sex, Age, Weight, Racial. Etc.

Studied in conjunction with lessons under Supplemental Lessons, above. [sup.]

A NOTE ON BODY TYPE:  Sex, Age, Weight, Racial. Etc.

Studied in conjunction with lessons under Supplemental Lessons, above. [sup.]

* * *

THE LAWS OF COMPOSITION

As Related to the Human Figure

We look upon the world in an orderly way. We expect the world to exhibit a stable order, even as it adjusts and changes.

We draw and paint the Human Body’s Intelligent Design which allows it to interact with an orderly world. We do this, as artists, through understanding and applying the Laws of Composition.

These Laws hold whether the subject if either representational or abstract (that is, the object & subject of art abstracted down to the tools and materials of art).

We study Composition to know how the Human Figure fits into an orderly world.

* * *

For principles in composition we will reference these master artists: David Friend, again Nathan Goldstein, Arthur Wesley Dow, Ian Roberts, Henry Rankin Poore, and Andrew Loomis.

 * * *

INTRODUCTION TO COMPOSITION

Bottom line, this is about placing the Human Figure within its “natural home”, time & space.   Even when the imaginative expression of this placement, on paper and canvas, teases and exaggerates, the Laws of Space & Time are honored. So what are those laws of placement, those rules of Composition?

In order to grasp the Laws, and their importance, out study will venture beyond our usual subject, the human body, and take our lessons from the drawing of landscape, both natural and human made.

Various, but primarily David Friend, Arthur Wesley Dow, Ian Roberts, Henry Rankin Poore

* * *

THE LAWS

[twenty-six lessons]

* *

“IN-SITU, IN-SITU”: The Importance of Placing a Subject in Time & Space.

This is both about instructing our sight to see correctly and developing a philosophy of how subjects & objects are “fitted” in their place. This applies equally to the two-dimensional plane of paper and canvas as it does to an object’s placement in “real” space.

Examples, to reinforce the principles, will be taken from other than drawing and painting.

Various, but primarily David Friend, Arthur Wesley Dow, Ian Roberts, Henry Rankin Poore

AMATURES: The Four Most Important Compositional Lines

Ian Roberts has a nice way of summing up the Principles pf Composition. Though the examples and study are other, all apply to the Human Figure.

Roberts, augmented by Goldstein

AMATURES: Eight Common Amatures

[Ditto as above] [sup.]

AMATURES: Twelve Composition Basics

[Ditto as above] [sup.]

AMATURES: The Cruciform

[Ditto as above] [sup.]

TWO-DIMENSIONAL SHAPE RELATIONSHIPS 

[Ditto as above] Friend, Goldstein

LIGHT & DARK VALUE:  Relationships in Compositions

The central “truth” about value was taught extensively in the drawing of the human figure. We extend that here to apply the Laws of Value to the composition as a whole.

Friend, Poore, Dow, Goldstein

SPACE FITTING: Regular Space

Redesigning unstructured space. Correcting a composition when needed.

Friend, Goldstein

SPACE FITTING: Negative Space

These are the spaces (or passages) in a drawing or painting which are “empty”, which seem not to contribute to the composition. But they do – enormously! These are “empty” space deliberated designed into the composition. Learning how they do is the mark of a true artist. (This even holds for sculpture and architecture.)

[sup.]

SPACE FITTING: Negative Space vs. Empty Space

There are “empty” spaces that are thoughtless and intrusive. What to do about them: balancing, correcting, eliminating.

[sup.]

SPACE FITTING: Crowded Space

Building up a composition.   Simplifying a Composition.

[sup.]

SPACE FITTING: The Use of Color

Though in this drawing course we do not pick up color, its use in organizing and understanding composition cannot be avoided.

Friend, Roberts, Dow, Goldstein

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE: Vertical vs. Horizontal Composition

There are ways of looking, techniques which should be used over others. They are, frankly, privileged methods of Art. What should one look for? What are the guidelines?   This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above).

Friend, Poore, Robert

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE: Apparent or Formal Balance

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above).  [Poore]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE: The Scale of Attraction

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above). [sup.]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE: The Natural Axis

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above). [sup.]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE: The Opposition of Line & Spots

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above). [sup.]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE: Transition of Line

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above). [sup.]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE: Gradation

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above). [sup.]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE:: Principality & Isolation

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above). [ sup.]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE: Cubical Space

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above). [sup.]

ANGULAR COMPOSITION 

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above). [sup.]

COMPOSITION OF ONE OR MORE UNITS 

This is an expansion of the Golden Rule (see above). [sup.]

CIRCULAR OBSERVATION 

Roberts puts this skill as ‘Guiding the Eye Through the Picture”.

Poore, Roberts

ENTRANCE & EXIT 

The “rules” on getting “in” and “out” of the picture. The artist knowing how to do so the viewer can.

Poore

HARMONY: Understanding “Notan’

This is an Asian/Oriental approach to composition within the two-dimensional plane. Creating Harmony through: Opposition, Transition, Subordination, Repetition, and Symmetry.

Dow

* * *

SUPPLEMENT:

GOING DEEPER WITH GOLDSTEIN

[three lessons]

* *

Nation Goldstein is the perfect Master for exploring the nooks and crannies of Composition – those almost secret passageways of composing.

Composition is a many layered thing, an interlocking complex of translating our vision of the world.

Lessons here expand what was learned above; some are new ways of looking. Their best description comes through doing and practice. As one can see, here, in this section, we are almost close to uniting the physics of seeing with our very human looking-about on the world.

THE ELEMENTS OF INTERACTING

[A]  TENSION:

Between elements of the composition: color, line, spaces.

[B] ILLUSION OF MOTION

This is not about painterly tricks – for such can be easily detected – but the skill to evoke from the subject the message that something is on the move.

[C]  FIGURATIVE INFLUENCES

Figures on paper and canvas – as they do in life – relate, interrelate, contact and repulsive one another. How does one go about expressing that with pencil and brush?

BASIC COMPOSITIONAL STRUCTURES: The Master List:

  • The Grid
  • The Circle
  • The Triangle
  • The Diamond
  • Central Location
  • The Centers
  • The Bridge
  • The Cantilever
  • The Even Spread
  • The Radial Burst
  • Emphasis on Diagonality
  • Emphasis on Horizontality·
  • Curvilinear Dominant
  • The “L” Shape

MODES OF PRESENTATION: The Master List:

  • Deep Space
  • Shallow Space
  • Density
  • Sparsity
  • Dense &Sparse
  • Volume & Space Dominant
  • Two-Dimensionality
  • Straight Edge Dominant
  • Straight Versus Curve
  • Linear Closed Spaces
  • Painterly Closed Space
  • Line Dominant
  • Value Dominant
  • Texture Dominant
  • Color Dominant

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