4.2.2 A longer study

My daughter Ria agreed to be my model for this exercise, if she could just lie down and  look at the phone and computer.  In the life drawing classes I have attended, there is always one longer study, so this did not feel all new. For this chapter I have always kept to A4 on my lap though, so today I decided to draw bigger on A2 and use an easel.


I started by sketching out the outermost points lightly in charcoal, and then to draw lots of loose lines, finding the shapes.

There was something “off” from the very beginning, and although I kept measuring and comparing, I couldn’t remove that feeling. Instead of just starting from scratch as I should have, I kept drawing for about 1,5 hours- the length of the movie- using charcoal, smudging, lifting out with a putty rubber, filling in the darkest and accentuating the lightest with white Conte.

This is the final drawing:



I got very confused by the hoodie, and chose a really bad angle- hm can’t really think of any other excuses- but the result is very disappointing and out of proportion, the whole figure just too long, especially the upper body.

I do like the contrast between the detailed figure and the unfinished background though.

This IS a difficult pose!


Trying again


I will let this rest for now and work on another pose, there are obviously some skills I need to master before getting this pose right.

Another trial with Ria , she is lying on the bed with the computer nearby. At first I just circle in, observing.  I didn’t want to interfere , but she does some strange poses with her legs in the beginning, so I ask her to change that.

In the name of art she even removes her T-shirt- I realize how lucky I am to have a model available!

Today I have prepared the A2 sheet with random patterns of watercolor to create a background. ( I really enjoyed myself while copying Tracey Emins style ( see Sketchbook 4) , and although I aim at drawing more realistically here, I want to keep some of that playfulness)

A first small and loose trial on A5.


I am really happy with this start. Now I switch to the A2 sheet on the easel:

Immediately cramping up again and in the first version the torso is far too long again.I try to find the looser drawing again , then work on tone – this is the final A2 version:


I decided to leave the background unfinished again. I really like the random color of the background and think it helped me to stay a little looser and more playful, but it is still not as light as the first quick trial which I think looks much better. It took around 2 hours to draw this and I definitely overworked it and especially did far too heavy outlines and too strong contrast of tone.

I still had some backgrounds prepared and drew some quicker poses after we finished the above. This first one is a background of charcoal and ink , with a red Uniball figure A4, stretching the back after too long posing.



This second one charcoal on watercolor A5 (I just imagined away the underwear):


I like trying out various colors and media, and shifting from using only graphite. I realize that I always like the quicker, more spontaneous drawings the best, so I have to let go of the cramping up and “taking it too seriously” of the longer studies that just seem to sabotage the result.




Life drawing- continued



Back to life drawing at Pranoto’s Gallery! The first time I went to a life drawing class in here , I was still starting on Part 2 of this course. That time I wrote a blog post about the gallery  and the artist Pranoto himself called life drawing- beginnings.

I was very curious how I would feel now- a few months further in the course and discovered that I loved coming back with less fear and awkwardness, less shame of my not perfect drawing skills. Although life drawing is still really really difficult and the results very imperfect, I have definitely learned to be more confident.

There are no instructions here during the class, just a model in the center of the room and a circle of artists on cushions on the floor or little stools, all drawing in their own style with different media.

The model was very sweet but definitely stiff and uncomfortable- carefully covering up with a sarong both legs and upper body.

All these drawings were 5 min each:

I think my favourite of the day is the little lying figure top left that was just a resting pose between the ‘real’ poses.

This is the final drawing- 2 times 20 minutes of the same pose:


In short- still a LOT to learn, and I am happy to be back home in Ubud for the next three weeks where I can attend these life drawing classes again .


Today another life drawing class at Pranoto’s Gallery and a whole different experience. The model was VERY pregnant and radiant. You could feel how she loves her body, loves being pregnant, and modeled with such grace and ease- it was such a pleasure to draw her!

First some warm up 5 min standing poses:


Then two 10 minute poses:

On the left one I was especially struggling with the arm bent backwards- something to look into (and the weird long neck and the small head, argh). I loved the pose on the right – how she holds and looks down on her beautiful belly- but unfortunately the drawing didn’t go that well. This is definitely a pose I want to try and sketch again.

One single 20 minute pose:


I am happy with the proportions here and think I will continue working on this drawing.

This is the final drawing two times 20 minutes the same pose :


It is not perfect, but I am more or less happy with the proportions and the expression, I think that I captured some of both.

I just loved the experience of sketching this beautiful pregnant woman, it felt very special. I think her feeling so at easy in her body and showing it also made me feel much more at ease sketching it.

Another week and one more life drawing class at Pranoto’s. I just walked in and immediately loved the model- a real woman my age, confident in her own body- not a perfect young model, but just so beautifully herself.

First some 5 minute standing sketches:

A rather stiff beginning, so I switched to a charcoal pen for the seated 5 minute poses:

This felt much better already and I started feeling confident with the proportions.  I was rather amazed at getting the crosslegged one right to be honest.

This was immediately followed by a pose of 4 times 20 minutes.


I spent two times 20 minutes on this A4 drawing, and then decided to leave it as is. I was amazed at getting it this right , so I was worried about spoiling it if I would go over it too many times. I really liked drawing with the charcoal pen.

So for the next 20 minute period , I started over with a sanguine pen on A4:


This went well again. I like it even better as a drawing , it is softer and the hands are more relaxed.

For the last 20 minutes I decided to challenge myself with a black Uniball pen and changed position in the room:


The hands got enormous , but the rest of the body and even the cushion works really well.

I don’t know if I am just in a great mood right now or if these drawings are really better, but it is the first time in this chapter that I really like my drawings and feel like I can draw a proportionate human being. Fingers crossed this was not a one-time lucky streak 🙂

This is Pranoto’s drawings of the same model.

For the last one on the right he took my previous place when I moved to a new placefor the Uniball pen sketch, so it was interesting to see his drawing of the same pose from the same place. It is also interesting to see how he uses the pose, but changes the model to younger and rounder.

A woman next to me was sketching the outlines in a waterproof ink and then the shading in different colors of watercolor. It looked amazing and is something I am inspired to try. But it requires to draw a single “correct” outline first, so some practice to be done first 🙂

Encouraged by what felt like a successful class last time, I desperately wanted to go back , so changed meeting schedules, rushed all day and drove my motorbike through pouring rain to get to Pranoto’s gallery for the life drawing class today. Obviously it only got worse from there and here is a gallery of my pathetic and rather desperate trials:


NOTHING seemed to work today. Finally I got the last 10 minute pose “right” in charcoal and felt my confidence growing a tiny bit:


I then felt a little clearer to cope with the lying postures. First one  single 20 minute pose:


One of the studio cats joined the model on the pillow- I think that was the highlight of my experience here today:)

Two times 20 minutes- I choose the coward version of picking up my pencil and eraser again:


And then black charcoal pencil for the last 20 min, same pose but from a different place:


From this session I learned the importance of not having any expectations. And I will forbid myself to use only graphite and charcoal next time- I have to get away from doing the same all the time!

There is nothing I feel like reworking from this session, luckily perhaps, because my pile of drawings to continue working on is not getting smaller- there is never enough time 🙂

After logging the above, I decided to rather sacrifice some sleep and rework two of the drawings from the session before with the beautiful pregnant model that I had been wanting  to do for some time.


Here I copied the pose on the left in a water resistant pen, and then drew the shadows in pink watercolor. The drawing gets a very different mood. I like the addition of colour, it is something more fresh and new. It would have been more interesting on a different background.

Here quite the opposite happened. I went from  a nurturing pose that did not quite work, to a rather dark image. I first covered the page with black charcoal, and then lifted out the shape of the pregnant woman with a putty rubber. I added darker tones and highlights and a tiny bit of brown Conte to the figure. I think the drawing has more depth and feeling, there is something very vulnerable and a little fearful with the young woman and her huge belly.

Today was my last lifedrawing class before traveling back to Europe for three weeks- and as I had a lot of fun with the drawings above, I decided to be more experimental and avoid just drawing on a white sheet, so I prepared some random backgrounds and planned to plot out the shapes during the lifedrawing session, and then continue working on the drawings at home. It is all still too quick for me to get the proportions and be experimental at the same time during the class.



This first background has some ink and a piece of transfer from a newspaper. I used it for the standing 5 minute poses:


And then at home, added ink  for the final drawing:



This is my favourite- I really like how some imperfect and stiff studies in proportions became a whole story and it works as a composition.


For a 10 minute pose on a stool, I used a background where I had  scribbled random marks, and then lifted out space for the figure with the eraser, creating more depth and atmosphere. Afterwards I darkened and smudged the background and shading.


Finally I changed the whole head and shoulders:


I like the effect but am not convinced of the drawing, so I will try this again.

For the next 10 minutes on a stool, I used a watercolour/ink chaotic background from my Tracey Ermin experiments:


I was spending far too much time getting this pose right , even the stool, and in the end it got all stiff and wrong. But back home I added ink and quite like the ghastly effect:



For the next pose, I chose to revisit my old traditional charcoal on white to get back some confidence, which worked so-so…:


Then I decided to try out drawing in scribbles in ink, without lifting the pen- this is a 20 minute pose:


And afterwards I added water with a thin brush to some parts:


I am really really happy with this effect of the ink/water scribbly style. The pose is not very right, but I will use this technique again.

For the last two 20 minute poses I used two colours of ink. It is less scribbly and I lifted the pen.


Then added water:


Here again  the drawing is not great, but I really liked this effect of the bleeding ink. Also will try out more bleeding of the different colors of ink together.

My figures from today were far from perfect, but I loved the process and the variety of approaches. Experimenting makes me happy and I feel like I opened up lots of new paths to explore the figure drawing further. This was a lot of fun!

I am on the road again for the coming three weeks, but hope I can pick p the thread here as soon as I get back. Foreshortening- trial

To practice drawing foreshortening, I place a mirror at the end of a mattress and draw what I see in the mirror, as suggested in the manual.

First a few quicker trials using the “coil technique”, drawing a coil that gets thicker or thinner in space to feel the three dimensionality of the limbs.


I am using a rather numb pencil to avoid getting stuck in detail.

This is an A4 drawing with 3B pencil:


I think the stretched out leg got somewhat too long, and the hand too big ,but to my own surprise I captured the pose clearly.

Here another trial on A4 with a charcoal pen:


So the foot close to the mirror appears much bigger than the head that is further away. Again- far from perfect, but the pose works.

I seem to have a problem sketching lightly though. I started off both very light and there is something I really liked about them- but then continued too long til the outlines got too clear- something to pay attention to. Here are the light beginnings:

Another trial with white chalk on black paper:


I am getting a feel for the foreshortening with the mirror. Time to explore this in other poses.

I take a look at foreshortening in yogaposes. These drawings are from photographs, so easier to get the proportions right of course. I decided to sketch on newspaper. (  Turned the house upside down looking for the Indian ones from one of my yogajourneys which would make sense for yoga poses, but as I couldn’t find them, I use these pages in Arabic because I like the letters… hoping the meaning is not too off subject)

Bhujapidasana in black biro pen:


I quite like this insectlike creature, but think it is unclear if you don’t know the pose, so I decided to add some Conte colour:


This wasn’t such a great idea- now it got too much of a cartoon.

Another trial with Paschimottanasana- forward bend:


Obvious foreshortening with the huge feet reaching towards the viewer.

For the research section of the same topic, I have just been looking at Jenny Saville’s work, and what is missing here in my trials is interesting cropping- something to look into next!

4.2.1 Proportion- quick studies

For this exercise I will draw Tom in a comfortable position- watching a movie on the sofa. Tom is wearing a rather baggy pyjamas, so this is still tying in to the previous exercise with cloth and form.

I start by sketching some (rather) quick studies of different poses:


These “quick” studies still definitely take a lot longer than the allotted 2 minutes each, so I start using a timer for these next quick sketches- 5 times the same pose, 2 minutes each:


2 minutes is a VERY short time, the first one took 4 minutes and the others where I restricted myself to 2 are all unfinished, even for quick rough studies.

This is the 10 minute version (well, 13 min ):


I followed the instruction to draw from the middle of the body, which probably made the proportions somewhat more realistic. My natural impulse is always to start by the head and then sometimes not fit the figure on the page. I am still much too focused on the outlines and don’t draw light enough.

Here I repeat the exercise with my daughter Ria lying on the bed.


Here I kept strictly to the 2 minute limit and focused entirely on the general shape. This works better than the drawings with Tom.


The first 10 minute version. I caught something very similar to Ria in the expression, but all the limbs are too straight and tight so the whole figure just looks stiff.

Second 10 minute version:


Here I started with doodles instead of lines , and I think it helped to soften a little and make the figure more alive. There is still something off with the position though, and the head is a little too small.

Now I draw my brother Daniel sitting crosslegged playing the guitaralele- a travelguitar the size of an ukulele:


All these are 2 minutes, so I have learnt to draw quicker, even if the proportions are often off.

Here are the two ten minute versions:


They are still stiff and not light enough. I want to draw lighter and more fluid. There is still a long long way to go- but I love drawing people and am so grateful for my very patient family and friends.

Life drawing- beginnings


Today I attended a life drawing class in Pranoto’s Gallery here in Ubud. I am still on Part 2 in the coursework, so this is peeking way ahead , but I though I might better try this out now while I have a chance, also I think human figure will be the most difficult part of the course. Pranoto is a well established artist here , who has been running these classes for years. I felt very intimidated as everyone looked very professional and sure of what they were doing. And as I spoke to a woman who has been coming regularly for 8 years I understood that indeed, most have actually been coming for a very long time.

It is a very bohemian atmosphere, with lots of cigarette smoking, strong coffee, old dishes piling up and numerous cats wandering around.

We started with 5 minute poses, which seemed very short. I never managed to finish even a rough sketch. Then 10 minute poses, and finally  20 minute poses.

This is my favorite drawing today- I think by luck I got the proportions right here. And I like the pose the model took too.


It was a great learning experience and I will sure go back, trying to feel less intimidated by all. I saw one woman sketching in bright pink pencil. I will try to sketch with color next time too, and work on sketching faster.


Today I went back to Pranoto’s Gallery for another life drawing session. I took some pictures of Pranoto’s art work here. I realized that all his paintings are started with sketches he does in the life drawing sessions, and then sometimes develops into paintings.

So if there are 3 or 5 models on the painting, it is in fact several consecutive poses by the same model combined in a composition. During the sessions Pranoto uses black charcoal sticks, or today one time blue pastel. The paintings are either oil or acrylic on canvas.

I had a really really hard time today. My two first 5 minute drawings were absolutely terrible and with that my self confidence plummeted even lower. I made a feeble attempt at sketching in a red colour pencil, but it was very uncomfortable, so I switched to black and red charcoal or pencil. None of the drawings are anything I would show really, but I am still happy I went. I am sure I learned a lot anyway, also by feeling at a loss here.


Meanwhile this is Pranoto’s sketch of the same model from another angle as my top left drawing….

IMG_3150 copy

I admire his skill at drawing so flowingly easily with a few lines and shades. The body is quite idealized though, it is not the model I saw today.  I think these charcoal sketches is his greatest strength. The paintings are quite heavy and clumsy with thick paint in all colors.

And here I heard about an interesting exhibition in town that I will visit, “Contrast” by Edi Markas, so it is interesting to get a little involved in the local artists scene.

I am back home and decided to return to the life drawing classes at Pranoto’s gallery. I am working with Still life now, but as I am not sure where I will be at the right moment of the course, I will use the opportunity to attend as many life drawing classes as I can while I am here anyway.

It felt good today, for the first time, although the end results are still far from “perfect”. I think having seen works of artists that work more freely and less “traditionally perfect”, like Ginny Grayson and Yann Kebbli, let me just scribble along more freely in my own way, making mistakes, and not be so dazed by how good everyone else is 🙂

This is my favorite of today. It is also not perfectly proportional, but I believe it caught the expression and pose of the model well:


Another life drawing session at Pranoto’s today. Here he is himself dreaming while looking out on the ricefields.


This is an artist’s still life 🙂 and a view of the gallery. The model is taking a break, but she will be seated on the cushion in the middle.

Today’s model was a Balinese woman modeling for the first time and she looked extremely uncomfortable and awkward. After a few poses Pranoto asked her to expose her breasts which increased the discomfort even more and she was clearly showing her dislike all through the session, which is quite unusual for a Balinese in fact. I believe no one really knew how to react other than drawing just that stiff discomfort, and I am not sure it would have been any better to interrupt it.

I tried some different charcoals, a version in pencil and one in Uniball pink.

This is the drawing I like best because it really describes the mood and expression of the session, in pale purple pastel: