This post is going to cover what I did during the first half of autumn term at the National Art and Design Saturday Club at the Plymouth College of Art. My tutor is Kate Marshall. Kate is an artist who works in all sorts of media and enjoys experimenting with unusual materials from the sites she is researching. Our student ambassador is Ben Lintell. Ben is a student at PCA studying Contemporary Crafts and he creates paper and glass sculptures.
During the first half term we were working with self-portraits and figure drawing. We started with drawing our self-portraits with paper and pencil. I used a mirror and something I found difficult was that any small movements I made would throw me off. I worked entirely in HB pencil because that was all I had with me that day. I think I captured my expression pretty well but I think I could have made it more realistic if I used different pencils.
Next we were given a square of wood each to draw another self-portrait on. I’ve never drawn on wood before and it was hard to erase the pencil marks so I had to use less working lines than usual. I worked from a photo of myself on my phone this time and it was slightly easier than from a mirror, because there was no movement and I could zoom in to investigate details.
I then started painting my self-portrait on the piece of wood with acrylic paints. Kate advised us not to use one colour for our skin as that would make it look fake, but to look closely for blues, greens and other hues. I studied my photo and found lines, shadows and different shades of pinks, browns, greens and blues. I mixed up the different colours on a palette and used two different brush sizes, a medium-sized flat one for covering bigger areas and a slightly smaller round brush for details. I wasn’t able to find a very small brush for fine detail. I don’t normally work with acrylic paints but I enjoyed testing them out. Acrylics are opaque and not transparent like the watercolours I normally use. I watered my paints down a little to make them easier to use and I noticed that when I used colours on top of a layer of white they were more vivid.
Our self-portraits were put on display in Central Saint Martins in London alongside other National Saturday Club groups from around the country. Here is a photo of all the portraits from the Plymouth College of Art group:
We also spent a session speed-drawing each other in different poses and holding or wearing different costume items to practice figure drawing. I did some using my 4B graphite stick and some using charcoal. The charcoal is darker and has a more textured line whereas the graphite gave a smoother line. I found that both allowed me to be more expressive and use bigger gestures than when I use a pencil.
I really enjoyed drawing the different poses and body shapes and found that our quick drawings sometimes didn’t even look human. I want to do a lot more figure drawing as it will help me improve my character design and comic art. I’d also like to do some life drawing lessons but I haven’t found any classes locally that will accept students of my age yet. I’ve signed up to an Udemy course on Anatomy for Figure Drawing (I got this discounted and there are sales quite often on Udemy) and I have been drawing poses from magazines.
Below are some of the sketches I’ve done recently from photos in my NEO magazines. I have been doing very quick sketches of body frameworks using simple lines joined by small circles for joints, and bigger shapes for heads and body sections. I saw this technique used to show figures in action in How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. It is a good way to investigate poses and movement. In some places I have used coloured pencil to add more details later.
In this last picture I made up my own poses from my imagination and memory. I feel that my skills have already begun to improve because of this exercise and the work we’ve been doing at the Saturday Club.