Assignment 4

FIGURE STUDY USING LINE- Seated model in an upright chair


I am inspired by this little drawing that I saw in the exhibition by Jose de Almada Negreiros in Lisbon. Like here, I want to draw in ink , a very detailed darker background and the figure in light lines in front of that.


I used to love drawing imaginary leaves and flowers and forests before I embarked upon this course and decided to learn how to draw from reality. Now I imagine a background of a magical forest with leaves and flowers as an intricate pattern and then my own whole figure in front of that. Because of my recent experiences with breast cancer, this figure is skinny and scared and suddenly foreign elements like an X Ray or a syringe appear in between the foliage.

I would never have imagined I would like drawing self portraits and have always been the person hiding behind the camera lens , but in this chapter I have looked more on myself and drawn my own body and especially torso and breasts more than I would ever have expected. It has felt like a way of dealing with body, illness, body image, fear.

Reading the description of the assignment again, I realize I have to use a chair of some sort, which was not in my original vision. But maybe I can crouch on it or saddle the chair in some more unusual manner. Sitting there calmly crosslegged does not fit what I want to express.

First tentative approaches to the composition in my A4 sketchbook:



Getting seriously frustrated about having to use a chair.. I had so much fun with the figure drawing and now this chair is challenging me again!


Chair , chair, chair..

I have asked my partner to take some pictures of me on a kitchen chair. I need some reference to study the poses on the chair. I already know that I want to use ink as it gives me so many beautiful options of different intricate lines.


I chose a pose with one outstretched leg as I really like the composition with the strong diagonal it creates. This is A4:


I am debating if I have a face or not and decide that not. I want the figure to be very white and clean, expressing the human form with just this single clean outline. This pose expresses perfectly many feelings I have. It is somewhat trapped but still rather relaxed and confident. There is a stark contrast between the empty light figure and the wild full background.

I was seeing this in blue or turquoise all along, but once I started playing with the inks, a beautiful old “goldgreen” ink became the only answer.


I start by outlining the figure and chair, using the eraser so much that I spoil the first sheet of A1 paper, which I then just played with and it became this “happy accident” drawing, filling in small creatures where the paper is ruined..


So I learned to use very very light marks and no eraser for a second go, and had a chance to fix the front foot and the chair.

This is the final drawing on A1 aquarel paper with Rohner & Klinger Old gold green ink nr 754 :IMG_8101 (1)

I am happy with this drawing. I dreamt it, I planned it, and then drew it. I spent a very long time drawing leaves compared to the figure, but I think it works well together. Also the leaves really allowed me to experiment with all kind of marks.  Although the figure is made up of just a few light lines, I believe it has a real three-dimensionality too it.

There is a mix of reality and fantasy that I like in the drawing.



My dear friend Isa has come for a visit and is ready to be my model. We are looking at drawings by Toulouse Lautrec and Egon Schiele and talking about the nude and the role of the model, about prostitutes and the image of “cheap girls” and seduction.  Isa pulls out a pair of black bas from her tiny suitcase, an accessory adding to this story. I am interested in exploring the (almost) nude with the eyes of a friend and a woman. Isa is exquisite and elegant and I love her dearly. Will this still be visible? Or where will the story carry us?

I really liked this first pose when she just fell back on the bed , but was not happy with how I managed to capture it- something to practice with more patience.

I decided to develop the pose to the left.  I like the more dynamic diagonal it creates and connects to the creases of the sheet. She is curled up and protecting herself, so it is not at all a seducing pose. What has happened? What does she feel? Small test:


I use A1 carton brown wrapping paper- I like the feel and surface and also the freedom that comes with using cheap sturdy paper (after spoiling the above A1 aquarellsheet). It is also another part of the story- cheap girl on cheap paper.

A1- I start by using coloured pencils in pastel tones. It is too soft and gentle. I had the idea to use white ink to give the skin a sheen, but am afraid the paper will get wobbly.


Finally I switch to dry pastel pencils in more vivid colours:


The proportions worked out well. There is something sweet and cocooning in the pose that makes me want to protect her. But I am not happy with the technique of this drawing. It is neither rough nor detailed. I decide to heighten the contrast and add some brown, also to hide the face with a curl of hair and add the shape of the bed:


This got a little more interesting. But I decided to explore my initial idea with black and white ink and not worry about the paper getting slightly wobbly:

A1 carton paper, black and white Windsor and Newton ink:


I think the atmosphere of the drawing is much better captured in ink. It is drawn rather roughly, not detailed which also works well with the paper and the subject.

I decide to try the second pose and be braver, drawing even less carefully.  I look at Tina Berning’s drawings of  “girls on cheap paper”  and am trying for a more “modern” look.


I am much more happy with this drawing. I think the more rough markmaking in ink fits the paper  and the subject. I like how it is clearly made up of blocks of tone. The proportions are not perfect , but the atmosphere and pose are strong. It is not a seductive nude, it is a personal moment witnessed and has a lot of potential stories behind it.


A PORTRAIT OR SELF- PORTRAIT combining line and tone

Giacometti and colour

I loved exploring Alberto Giacomettis portraits for the research section and decided to try drawing inspired by them, following lines over and over again. The idea came when I saw my own reflection in the kitchen window on a dark night and as all the details fell away, I clearly saw the patterns of lines that looked like a Giacometti drawing.

IMG_8015First trials in the sketchbook, then I immediately switched to A1 with enthusiasm:


I really like how the kitchen turned out, but I am not so happy with the figure here. And I really need to take off those headphones.


I like this last one closer up the best (Conte sticks on A1):


It really looks like me, and at the same time I believe you recognize that it is aiming at Giacometti’s style. I had so much fun drawing this!

In the sketchbook section, I played around at drawing inspired by Egon Schiele :

And now I have this idea to develop a portrait with the lines of Giacometti but the colours of Schiele.

First attempt with colored pencils on black paper A4:


I quite like this as a portrait in crazy colours, but it has lost the initial idea. I am confused by the description of the Assignment brief saying that the face needs to be in believable proportions and not face front. I guess this takes away all likeness to Giacometti already as his faces are facing front and elongated…

Second attempt with oil pastels on black A4:


Lets try this elongated but still inclined:


I switch back to colored pencils A1 :



Next attempt, A1 coloured pencils again:


Terribly serious despite the colours and too small on the page.

Final attempt in oil pastels on A1- with more wild lines and the long thin neck of Giacometti, while the head is still tilted.

I am ready to give up this idea , and approach the portrait from a new angle, but it was a lot of fun on the way.  I will leave these pictures here here on the log as a curious detour…

I decide to focus on colour patches again instead. Here are some trials in sketchbook:


on a brown paper bag that feels like skin:


This page with mostly “normal” colours feels best (A4):


I decide to develop that on A3 with more normal proportions for the features:


This is just a little too boring, so I switch to a french newspaper background :




For exercise 3 ” a portrait from memory or the imagination”, I drew this “scribbly” portrait in orange Uniball pen in my A4 sketchbook.


I really enjoyed this and want to explore this “scribbly” loose drawing style in various colours further .

I tried applying this to the drawing of a staircase and outdoor scene on newspaper for Assignment 3, which did not work out so well, so I am curious to explore it for the portrait instead.

Sketchbook pages:





It is interesting to mix different colours, in similar tones or contrasting ones and just scribble several layers as I tried here above.

I decide to develop a portrait of my partner in mixed blue and green. I like that gentle colour combination on the white paper, the scribbles are readily visible and as a side note, these are his favourite colours that he wears all the time.

A3, Aquarell paper, blue and green Uniball pens:


I am happy with the scribbles and the combination of blue and green, also the combination of finished/unfinished. I also captured the expression well and the contrast between his long feminine hair and soft lips with the other angular masculine traits of his face. The proportions are not great though. He had a very slight forward tilt that I did not handle well.

For the next round we tie the hair back in a ponytail:


The proportions are off again. I have captured the expression well, but the features are not correct. I liked using all different marks to indicate the different textures.

I have to admit to myself, that I am still at a stage where the face has to be looking straight forward for me to fully handle the proportions of the features correctly. After all this experimenting I still like my little imagined orange fairy portrait the best, so I decide to draw this here again.

A3, Aquarell paper with pink and orange Uniball pens:


I have really learned a lot this part of the course again and I have loved it. I still need a LOT more practice. I would like to continue practicing the human figure and especially the moving figure for the personal project of Part 5.

For the portrait- I jumped too quickly into trying all kinds of experiments instead of focusing on the basics. The features are still out of proportion and none of all the drawings is one I really want to send as THE assignment piece. This is a lesson too 🙂 I would have benefited from choosing one idea and developing it calmly to more perfection instead.

I have looked at a lot of artists for this chapter and have tried to imitate the style of some, which has been a lot of fun, and I learned so much.

There are two techniques I still have not found the time or space to explore- monoprinting and phototransfer, so I hope to try that out for the next chapter instead.



4.6.3 Portrait from memory or the imagination

For this exercise, I chose to draw a character from imagination. I am reading fairytales in Portuguese now to learn the language and enjoy imagining the characters. The children’s books are already illustrated, but with very romantisized classical drawings and I chose to draw a very different version that I believe fits the character.

This is the fairy Oriana- she is naughty and not very fairy like at all, with a scruffy look and messy hair, so I draw her scribbly and messy, A4 in sketchbook:


I am strangely happy with this little portrait. Although this was not really intended, I can clearly see my daughters younger face in it, and also the messy fairy Oriana. I think the expression is serious but not unfriendly, she is sincere but naughty.

6.2 Self- portrait

Never would I have guessed that it could be so much fun drawing self- portraits! This was definitely an exercise I dreaded and of course I went through the first moments of thinking how badly I need a haircut and how many wrinkles there are before I got caught up in trying out all these different approaches.

First some quick sketches in the A4 sketchbook:


Here I look like my dad..


getting closer:


More loose and scribbled:


I am really happy with this last quick A4 sketch! It looks like me, it feels proportionate and I managed to stop in time, leaving the right amount of drawing loose and unfinished!

Now I shifted for an A3 format and colored pencils:


I like the pose with the back turned to the viewer, but it was challenging to draw looking back over the shoulder in the mirror. I like the whole, but spoiled it with those crazy intense eyes.

Also I always listen to music while sketching, but I will have to take off my headphones for  a version or two of this subject…

Pencil 6B on A3:


I like that it is not overly detailed . The proportions are not great. I tried to repeat the quick spontaneous version above in my sketchbook, but it didn’t work out as well.


A3, colored pencils:


This purple drawing is definitely my favourite. It is similar to me, although I don’t know why I look so sad, because I definitely had a lot of fun drawing and felt happy.

The pose works well and I like that the body isn’t detailed.

Now I tried drawing with Conte sticks on A3:


Here I started inspired by Giacometti with the circles around the eyes, but then lost track. I have to take another look at his portraits.

Another Conte stick drawing on A3:


Here I like the play between the smudged areas and the scribbled ones. The hand is too small, but the general expression of the face work.

Oil pastels on A3:


This looks like a cute girl and I like the pose, but it is definitely not me..

Another trial with oil pastels on A3:


I had a very yellow light shining in my face and found this contrast between the yellow light and the blue shadows interesting.

It has been really fun experimenting with self portraits, but now I am backtracking again to learn more about proportion and how to sketch the individual features.








4.5.2 Multiple moving figures

It was difficult to draw the single moving figure- to draw groups of moving figures  is really really difficult!

Here I am trying on a full beach on a sunny Sunday. Pencil 3 B in A4 sketchbook.





A few of the figures are in proportion, most are not, and the proportions between the different figures at different distances from me don’t work at all.

A new “on the spot” trial at the lobby of Hotel Evolution, Lisbon



And in the busy Saldanha crossing, Lisbon, observing from the window of the lobby:



It feels like I am just taking the very first steps here on a subject that I would love to explore more – discreetly observing human movement. To be continued!


4.5.1 Single moving figure

Ironically I have arrived at “the moving figure” at a time when I am forced to move little. I have practiced a daily dynamic yoga practice for more than a decade and it is something I miss dearly right now. But maybe remaining in the eye of stillness will give me a new perspective on all the movement around me.

Before trying out sketching real passersby, I first want to learn to draw quicker by practicing with the online resource line-of -action with 60 s intervals

Moving figures in A4 sketchbook:

Running , oil pastel A4


Walking, from online pictures


Moving, A4 sketchbook


Quicker figure drawing in ink, from “line -of -action”:

So it is time to dare outside and observe live models!

Children playing , passers by observed from a bench, blue ink on A4:



Easter weekend and sunny beach days. I realize it is much easier to observe people on the beach than on the street. It seems to be a zone where everyone is more relaxed and feel protected in the little area they stake out for themselves and their friends or family.





Street glimpses:


4.4.1 Structure

For this part of the chapter, I will take a closer look at the underlying structure of the body- the skeleton, the body’s measurements and mechanics. I have had a lot of fun just drawing less detailed figures and rough form so far, but now it looks like it is time to get serious 🙂

I start by drawing the skull in coloured pencils on A3:


And my first attempt at a skeleton, in ink on a newspaper:


A more detailed skeleton in my A4 sketchbook:




A very basic first approach- I really just have to learn everything.

A4 sketchbook pages:


In my small brown book:


TOES , coloured pencil in black A4:



Coloured pencil on black A4:




LEGS, A4 sketchbook



Felt tip pens in A4 Sketchbook:




My hands :


TORSO, A4 sketchbook

IMG_6431 arms and torso

More studies:

Quick ink, no details:


This is a very helpful exercise, and I will come back to it again with more parts as I continue drawing. Especially hands need more exercise!