Life Drawing: Week 7

A1, pencil.  On the first sheet the pose with the head leaning on the elbow is the more successful of the three drawings.  In the longer 50 minute pose the truck of the body is too long and the feet too small.


Research: Alex McFarlane

My tutor suggested I look at this artist, who is mainly a painter and sculptor.  She particularly wanted me to look at his Industrial series, where he combines the use of drips and accidental paint runs with accurate renditions of the object.

I must admit his art was a revelation to me – the large industrial landscapes, the combination of accuracy with free expressive use of paint, the drips and runs to depict the foreground trees or water coming out of the pipes and finally, the incorporation of actual pieces of metal pipes/plumbing attached to the painting, providing a transition between painting vs sculpture.  For me many of his painting had a sinister psychological feel and reminded me of scenes from the George Orwell novel ‘1984’, despite the colourful nature of many of the images.

Two of my favourite paintings, for their grimly atmospheric industrial feel, integration of the drips of paint into the water flowing from the pipes, colour palette and use of actual plumbing supplies are River View and Soot 2.

Looking at this artist inspired me to have a look at drips and runs more, and the use of bleach on inks and watercolour.  I also went out sketching to Dungeness to have a go at my own Alex McFarlane inspired image and then took this further into other drawings using drips and more accidental effects.  These appear in a separate post.

Link to artist website here.

Assignment 4

This assignment consists of three parts – a drawing using line, one using tone and a third combining the two.

I started with a bit of research and looked at three artists – Jozef Israels, Keith Vaughan and Frances Bacon.  I made a few notes in my sketch book for inspiration.  I particularly liked the pose of Keith Vaughan’s , Man in a Cave and also the white on black of Frances Bacon’s,  Crucifixion.


For my first drawing I used my partner as the model.  As this was meant to be a sitting pose I first tried out a few sketches with him on the sofa, either looking at his iPhone or eating a biscuit, both relaxed poses.


None of these initial sketches inspired me as they just looked too ordinary, they did not seem to say anything about the person.  As my partner is a photographer, I asked him to pose with his camera.  We have spent many hours together out and about, him taking pictures whilst I am sketching and I have often come across him squatting down looking at a small detail or abstract shape to photograph.  The pose was also was inspired by the Keith Vaughan drawing shown earlier.  It also brought to the fore some of the reading I have done on the female nude and gaze.  By using a male photographer as my model I am putting the artist into the passive role.

I therefore completed a couple of sketches with this pose and liked these a lot better than my earlier sketches as they capture a moment in time just before he would take a photograph.


Of the two images I preferred the squatting pose with him leaning back against a bench to keep him steady.  I think the shapes made by the legs and the downward glance, together with the drape of the shirt make a better image.  I then tried out some quick sketches on various backgrounds and I was surprised that the stronger image for me was the white on black.


I did not want to dwell too long on this part as I have a tendency to over-think assignments so drove straight into making the image.

I used black paper with white pencil and white pastel for the drawing, making sure I concentrated on a line drawing, as per the brief.  I also made sure I limited myself to two hours for the drawing to ensure I did not over-work the image and lose some of the energy of the marks.  I lightly sketched the outline first to try to get the proportions right.


I then corrected a number of areas around the camera, hat and position of the hands, then began to firm up the lines and add some detail.


Finally I added some bolder marks, again corrected the hands and camera positions, soften the right hand edge of the figure drawing using a putty rubber so that the line becomes a bit lost as it was in shadow and added some white highlight under the figure to further indicate where the light was falling.


Overall I am pleased with the result.  I think I have captured the pose and the concentration of the figure quite well and not overworked my lines.  The hands are still not quite right, particularly his left hand.  I thought about putting further elements in the background, making these up as he was framed against a plain wall but in the end decided not to add anything so the eye concentrates on the figure and the pose.

For my second drawing I wanted this to be from a life drawing class I attend.  These last for two hours and I knew that the class on 2 February would be one pose for the duration of the class so this would fit the assignment brief quite well.  At the previous weekly class I had tried out using charcoal powder on my finger to create the image, therefore avoiding my obsession for detail.  First, I had completed sixteen A6 30-45 second poses, where line is shown this is where a bigger piece of charcoal was attached to my finger from not crushing the charcoal finely enough.


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I then completed two longer pose of 15 and 20 minutes, again using charcoal powder on a finger.  Both are A3 size.


I liked this technique and decided to use it for the second drawing of the assignment.

We had a different model in a sitting position.  I used a viewfinder to compose the image.  I again built up the tones using my finger dipped in charcoal powder, rubbing back the charcoal with a putty rubber to add highlights.  I also included a faded sitting figure in the background, who was another member of the life drawing class, for context and to balance the image.


I think I have caught the way the figure is slightly slouching in the chair, the angles of the back, legs and arms together with the downward gaze.  I have also soften the back edge of the figure to help with the perspective.  Whilst I like the background figure, on reflection they do look a bit like they are playing a keyboard rather than using a sketchbook.

For my third drawing I want to do a self-portrait, perhaps giving the viewer a hint that I like to remain hidden as an artist.  I have been thinking about this for a long time now, my reluctance to share my art on wider social media.  I therefore decided to create an image with me dressed in a hoody, which could allured to my nature or could create a conflict for the viewer as an older man dressed in a hoody.

I used a mirror to me left at about eye level.  I used a mid-tone green paper as I wanted to add a bit of red and yellow pastel dust to the charcoal powder I intended to use to build the tones.  I choose green as being the complimentary colour of red it should make the face come forward more.  I first built the image up gradually using the charcoal dust.


I then began adding lines and further tone, corrected the outline and finally adding some highlights.  I again stuck to the two hours to avoid over-working the drawing.


For the me the final image looked a bit unbalanced with the large empty space on the right so I decided to add a faded image of a drawing, further adding to the narrative of me wanting my art to remain out of view.


I am not sure how successful this image is as it is difficult for me not to look at the image and not be critical as it is a picture of myself.  Having put the picture in the background have I come too far in the narrative and does it distract from the main self-portrait?  I think I need time away from the image to evaluate the result.