Assignment 5

Exploring the human figure through yoga asanas (postures)

In this chapter, I was drawing through a series of yoga postures gathering ideas that I aim to explore now, through a more free and experimental approach.

RED SERIES- watercolor and phototransfer:

DEEP BACKBENDS- The fearbird

“The fearbird” is a personal symbol that comes back to me often, a flutter of wings in the chest when going into deep backbends, and then the release when the pose is completed. A flock of birds, or wings or the stiff frozen bird of fear are images that have often appeared in my drawings before and it is an idea I want to continue exploring.

Here I am in Laguvajrasana imagining a flock of birds released from my heart.

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I make a series of experiments in A4 of different deep backbends- inspired by Louise Bourgeois using red watercolor:

It is definitely the last one that I will keep developing. I see the figure in watercolor as it is now, with the “fearbird” as a foto transfer of a flock of real birds. Here some small tests:

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ROOTS

Roots growing through my feet or hands is another image that comes up in several poses like where the contact to the Earth is very dominant. It could be a close up of only the hands or feet with the roots growing.

Finally I crop the figure til only the feet are left- standing still in Samastitih- equal standing- stability and roots.

 

Roughly drawn shapes in watercolor (Louise Bourgeois, Marlene Dumas). But then I am attracted to the mix of the more illustrative feet of the last drawing, combined with the abstract shape of roots or connection.

I am testing various other wet on wet or watercolor approaches, but will stick to the red version with the fototransfer of the birds.

A third image I want to develop is Garbha Pindasana- the embryo in the womb pose. The name alone lends itself to a lot of imagination.

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I am exploring how this can work in a series:

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But it is definitely this version I want to develop:

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This seemed to all fit very well til I got more experimental with the first posture- Garbha Pindasana and realize it really looks weird and difficult to understand if you are not very familiar with the pose (A4):

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I will change for Balasana- the childs pose- a similar message but a simpler shape:

 

These are the final drawings in A4:

In a series it looks like this (3xA4) :

 

I am happy I experimented with fototransfer and explored the postures much more loosely and less detailed, it feels like new territory again. I am rather happy with the two drawings to the right, the feet and the backbend. The womb pose does not quite work yet.


YOGA MAT DRAWINGS

In this experiment I wanted to explore the movement of the yoga practice without focusing on the external shape it takes. So I cut brown packaging paper the size of my yogamat.

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And was drawing the marks left by my hands and feet on this mat. In this first version I was simply outlining the hands and feet with a black Uniball pen while moving through the yoga sequence. In the end I added white ink to clarify some surfaces:

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Here are some details I really like:

 

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I like the ghostlike character of the lines, but decided to try out a thicker blacker line so I switched to charcoal sticks instead:

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and some details:

Here the smearing of the charcoal created some surface and I like this mix of multiple lines and some tone.

For these two drawings I kept interrupting the practice though, to outline the hands and feet, and now I wanted to experiment with covering my hands and feet with charcoal so that I could leave marks while moving fluidly:

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Details:

This felt wonderful to draw, and I think you can feel the movement, but it all got very smeared. Lastly I added some outlines of the feet in white charcoal to bring back some clearer shape. I am quite happy with this mix of flow and line.

Lastly I repeat the same experiment stepping into acrylic paints, to try and keep the fluidity while preserving the marks as well:

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Details:

In the end I dripped paint and ink over the marks, Jackson Pollock like. This version was really fun but the result is chaotic.

Finally I could of course not resist a photo session of my paint covered feet:

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I am really happy with these yoga mat drawings. More with the process than with the results. It feels very much in line with my intention to explore this subject from a personal experiential place, rather than just looking at the shapes of the postures. It was  a very creative and spontaneous process that feels freeing and joyful.


BACKDROP mini animation

I was looking at the series of picture of moving figures by Eadweard Muybridge, and experiencing my first backdrop after a long break- and practicing gesture drawing with action lines… Til it all came together in the idea of this small book of animation.

Every page has one part of the movement of dropping back. Flicking through the book creates a mini animation of the movement with the figure dropping back and standing up again. This blog does not allow videos… but maybe the idea is clear through these photos:

The backdrop happens twice in the booklet, dropping back, down, up, back down and up again.


 

COLLAGE AND LINE – cutting through yoga magazines

Despite my keen interest in the subject, it is rare that I read yoga magazines. I used to work in fashion a life time ago, and I guess I have just had my share of idealized, beautified versions of women, of body, of life. I even feel a little frustrated flipping through these magazines now, but feel satisfaction at ripping them apart and cutting body parts out. As I have mentioned before, my experience of yoga is definitely not only one of serene smiles in the midst of lotus flowers, but rather a tool in working out some rather dark corners. Inspired by the work of Wangeshi Mutu, here I am swinging the scissors for some collage combined with drawings, all A4:

Cosmic Warrior Mama:

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Natureasana:

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Creatureasana:

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Blissful eye:

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I like the slick, clean look of leaving the background white and the figures standing out with a clear shape in the 3 first pages, so I decide to stop here. Originally I had some ideas of adding ink splashes or watercolor, but this “clean look” attracts me more. It also links back to the magazine world of beauty images.


 

ONE LINE FLOWING THROUGH THE SERIES- A CONCERTINA BOOK

Similarly to when I discovered Tracy Emin, when I first looked at Chloe Piene’s drawings, I could really not appreciate them. But now having tried to draw similarly, I start seeing the beauty of them and how they have a very personal language.

Here I have interpreted yogaposes with a ragged flowing loose line, inspired by her work, all A5 :

Downward dog and backbend- these are my favourites and in orange just to try something different. Chloe Pienes drawings are always in black.

 

Lagu Vajrasana and shoulder stand:

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana standing and Paschimottanasana, seated forward bend:

It was again very freeing to use this wild crazy line .

And from here came the idea to draw one line through the series, connecting pose with pose like the breath connects the movement. For this I will use my small concertina sketchbook, that will then unfold to reveal the whole series in one line.

I start by sketching out the “correct” poses ligthly in pencil and then draw with the wilder free line in black pens. This is not the series as I would practice them, it is a sequence that unfolded drawing it.

It is not so easy to photograph- but the end result is a concertina sketchbook with 32 panels:

As it happened over a long period of time, the line is quite different and even in different pens. At times I think it comes close to Chloe Piene’s wobbly line, at times more strict and straight with geometrical elements and at times very “sketchy”.

This is how the series look:

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And some close ups of my favorite moments:

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For assignment 5 , I connected two parts of my life that I love- drawing and yoga. I learned a lot about both! It has been very useful to continue with figure drawing. I love drawing the human body and will definitely continue learning here.

I was afraid I would fall straight into cliches about yoga art with this subject, but although my drawings are still too illustrative at times, I believe I avoided the most obvious pitfalls- not a single “OMmmmm” sign here!

I have really enjoyed looking closer at several contemporary artists work and let myself be inspired to explore their techniques or styles. My approach has become looser and more spontaneous through all these different experiments.

Through this assignment, I created the opportunity to use various media and combinations like watercolor with fototransfer and collage with line drawing, and also very different supports- from yoga mat sized drawings to two different series in tiny books.

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Artists for Part 5

Louise Bourgeois, Marlene Dumas, Elizabeth Peyton, Wangechi Mutu, Chloe Piene

My tutor Joanne Mulvihill- Allen has suggested several artists whose work could be inspiring for my approach to Part 5.

LOUISE BOURGEOIS

Why am I so touched by Louise Bourgeois drawings?

I do not feel the same for the sculptures , but the drawings have such a personal vulnerable quality that really connects to my own fears and vulnerability.

They seem so quickly loosely scribbled, but just on the spot touch that sense of beauty while being scary and unsettling at the same time.

 

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I wrote about Louise Bourgeois in an earlier post this year, after seeing her room at the Tate Modern in London and had to create a new category for that- the human figure- emotions. Although I felt a certain fascination then as well, I am observing how much deeper I am touched now.

Even her “patterns” or “scribbles” take organic shapes that resonate with some inner organs and movement.

Inspired by discovering these drawings again, I will experiment with drawing the poses of Assignment 5 in red watercolor and approach the form much more fluidly and less detailed than I have til now.

Momaorg. 2017. Momaorg. [Online]. [13 July 2017]. Available from: https://www.moma.org/explore/collection/lb/themes

MARLENE DUMAS

The south African artist Marlene Dumas uses all kind of photographs -portraits and figures- from newspapers and magazines as a starting point, then translates them into her very personal paintings by cropping, the choice of colours and mixing of several approaches in the same painting, like spots and splashes, blurred parts, scribbled, sketched sections and more.

 

In the above series “Models” she explores beauty models but also women that she considers role models, like Gertude Stein.

I really enjoy this loose, not detailed almost monochrome paintings and how they work in a series. It reminds me of the series of women by Tina Berning I wrote about earlier in this course.

She uses a similar language for figures and nudes- the shapes hinted at, the paint bleeding, some details standing out. This again is something I would like to explore directly for the Assignment 5 postures.

She often explores the theme of death or sorrow through various angles, like finding modern images of la Pieta in photographs of war or disaster zones.  Here is a self portrait as a skull that she drew to illustrate an interview with her in the magazine Zeit:

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Marlenedumasnl. 2017. Marlenedumasnl. [Online]. [26 June 2017]. Available from: http://www.marlenedumas.nl/

Marlenedumasnl. 2017. Marlenedumasnl. [Online]. [26 June 2017]. Available from: http://www.marlenedumas.nl/wp-content/uploads/D-2015-Zeit-Magazin-short.pdf

ELISABETH PEYTON

I wrote a post about Elisabeth Peyton for Part 4- the face, where I focused more on her paintings with blocks of bold colors:

I think I was initially a little disturbed by the fact that she paints mostly famous artists or royalty, often from photographs, but now I have listened to a few of her talks and interviews and feel that I understand her attraction and curiosity. She is fascinated by stars as creators, as people who really make great things, and by how their genius and creativity shines through their features- which is what Elisabeth Peyton is capturing.

In her drawings I found a lot of the finished/unfinished balance that am drawn to experiment with.

I love how she focuses on the features, which is what fascinates her, and then leaves the rest of the drawing uncolored and “unfinished”.

Gladstonegallerycom. 2017. Gladstonegallerycom. [Online]. [17 April 2017]. Available from: http://www.gladstonegallery.com/artist/elizabeth-peyton/work

WANGECHI MUTU

Contrary to the sparse reduced works of Louise Bourgeois or Marlene Dumas above, Wangeshi Mutu’s art is an explosion of information and color and pattern.  She creates fantastic worlds, or fantastic journeys through collage and drawing.

I am really fascinated by Wangeshi Mutu’s work. It is a combination of pretty and gruesome, of playful and horrendous, with flowers and fantastic creatures mixed with women with chopped off limbs.

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I also found myself really enjoying her video works that almost feel like drawings, with one motive unfolding slowly with sound and movement.

http://wangechimutu.com/art/in-motion/

In an interview with the curator of her show at the Brooklyn Museum (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux0C_c08dto), Wangemushi explains that her fictional dreamlike mythlike works express her opinions on questions like gender and colonisation, but they also act as portals for the viewer to access something very personal. This is how I feel when looking at her works- they allow the imagination to dive in and continue creating.

Wangechimutucom. 2017. Wangechimutucom. [Online]. [16 July 2017]. Available from: http://wangechimutu.com/art/in-space/

CHLOE PIENE

“Drawing is the first thing and it is the final thing, so it can encompass everything”

“Drawing is primal, drawing is underneath everything, drawing is your design, your mechanism, your motivation. Drawing is action.”

These are quotes from Chloe Pienes speech seen in the video from the exhibition Drawing now  2015 (you tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EM_ky_hkZg)

She explains how the seen and the unseen work together. The figures are floating and also there is no horizon line, so the figure itself totally defines the space, almost as if they are the space themselves.

At first I had a difficult time liking the ragged disjointed drawings of Chloe Piene. After reading more about the artist and hearing her explain the work, I feel more drawn to it and am curious to explore using a very free line.

Chloepienecom. 2017. Chloepienecom. [Online]. [18 July 2017]. Available from: http://chloepiene.com/work.html


All of the artists I have taken a look at here, inspire to create more freely, with feeling and spontaneity. It is definitely a path away from realism or illustration and I feel inspired to experiment and explore.

 

 

 

 

Yoga in art

With my exploration of the human figure through yoga poses here,  I am searching for a personal drawing experience, just like a yoga experience on the mat, more than drawing beautiful postures. So ” Yoga in art” is not really what I am aiming at. Nevertheless I decide to research this subject and a whole world of esoteric shine and colorful chakras appear, which is mostly what I would like to avoid. Some artists stand out with their very different personal voices though.

JOHN DALTON

Irish- Australian John Dalton explores yogaposes in a series he calls “gently does it”. Every image has elements of geometrical spheres, creating a layer of mystery. I like this combination of abstract pattern and the poses expressed rather vaguely but with a clear sense of how they can feel.

Johndaltonme. 2017. John Dalton – gently does it . [Online]. [20 June 2017]. Available from: http://www.johndalton.me

BOONCHU TANTI

Thai artist Boonchu Tanti is a friend of mine that practices ashtanga yoga with the same teacher, Sharath Jois, and we have met during some of our journeys to India. Maybe I find his cartoon illustrations particularly hilarious as I know the stories behind them well!

What I can learn from Boonchu is to draw every day, to look around with humour and to just draw what he sees and hears.

M.S. ANAND

Indian painter Anand is a master of Tanjali and traditional Mysore style paintings. I had the luck to study with him during my first trip to Mysore, India in 2010.

This type of painting is NOT creative, it is a form of devotion, or for the less religious- meditation. During the classes we students sit crosslegged on the floor and copy painstakingly detailed images of Indian Gods. It takes about a month to paint one image, and the copy does not leave room for any personal interpretation, except by the master. It is he who will add the eyes and eyelashes for example. If the painting is well done, the final touches are then done with real gold leaf, holding our breath while applying tiny tiny pieces of gold leaf.

I was painting an image of the elephant headed God Ganesh and I am not sure I learned much about painting, but it was a magic experience in immersing myself in the culture. I was the only western student, shifting around on the floor of Anands small studio among the sari clad Indian women. On Saturdays, the traditional rest day- Anand would take the whole little group on temple tours.

 

Since then, Anand has become a very famous painter in his genre. Two huge paintings adorn the modern Bangalore airport, painted by him and his now 10 assistants!

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LESLIE SABELLA

I like the use of pattern and the merging ranges of colour in Leslie Sabellas drawings, although I am not drawn to the too obvious motives of Fatimas hands and meditating figures in lotus posture. I am sometimes a little confused by where to draw the line between illustration and drawing, but these are clearly illustrations.

Truespiritartcom. 2017. Truespiritartcom. [Online]. [22 June 2017]. Available from: http://www.truespiritart.com/

LOVETTA REYES CAIRO

The beauty in the simplicity of these single line drawings of yoga poses by Lovetta Reyes Cairo caught my attention.

They are a perfect example of exploring the line between finished and unfinished- how much can you leave out or crop and still clearly express the shape of the pose?

Loveheartsartcom. 2017. Loveheartsartcom. [Online]. [22 June 2017]. Available from: http://www.loveheartsart.com/gallery/yoga-line-drawings/

CHRIS CARTER

Chris Carter combines a very simple line drawing with watercolour. Again I am drawn to the beauty of the simplicity here and I will explore something similar for my assignment.

Chriscarterartcom. 2017. Chriscarterartcom. [Online]. [22 June 2017]. Available from: http://chriscarterart.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Life drawing at Pranotos Gallery

Today I went back to a life drawing class at Pranoto’s Gallery in Ubud.

I have spent months studying the human figure for Part 4, so I was very disappointed in my first 5 minute drawings:

But I realized I need time to warm up and was much more happy with the following 20 minute drawings:

And the final 2 times 20 minutes of the same pose:

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I realized I have learned a lot about proportions and feel more confident. In this last drawing I believe I captured both the pose and the expression. What I need to consider more and work on is cropping and finding a more interesting approach. Here I was still just focused on “getting it right”.


Second life drawing class today for this new part of the course.  Today’s model looked like a photo model and posed like in a fashion show. She had an unusually long elegant neck, accentuated by her short hairstyle. (To be honest I would love to draw a less image perfect woman, that feels confident in her body anyway, with some fat and wrinkles and everyday poses..)

Today I was in a better flow and found it much easier to draw the right proportions . I realized that I have learned a lot during this course! Again, I focused entirely on “getting it right” again, not cropping interestingly. I guess it really felt like that is what I want to get out of going there- being able to draw the human proportions correctly and fast.

I used only colored pencils (Caran D’Ache) , these are 5 minute poses:

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10 minute poses with slight cropping

A single 20 minute pose:

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Here I really struggled again and picked up my eraser although I really had intended to NOT use it. It was a frustrating drawing and looks like it too…

The final 3 times 20 min the same pose:

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I am happy with this last drawing. I think the different colours work here, the pose and proportions are ok. I like that I kept the cushion just lightly outlined.

All in all I felt much more relaxed and in control than last time. I see that the gesture drawing exercises are giving some results, so that is definitely something to continue .


Third life drawing class for this part of the course today. I really really liked the model who was choosing really original and interesting poses, instead of looking like a top model on a cat walk.

I struggled with the first 5 minute poses though- there seems to be like a necessary messing up of the first trials before getting into the flow.

I was much more happy with the following ones:

Then the first 20 minute pose- with a bean bag:

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The last 2 times 20 minute the same pose. Today I made a point of cropping some of the poses and not always draw the whole figure:

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I am happy with this drawing. The face worked well and the rest of the upper body. I like that I stopped on time for the legs.

I had a little more time , so tried the same pose in pink Uniball pen:

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I like the scribbly effect and the color, the pose works as well. Here I chose to crop the arm as well which maybe looks a little creepy. I could have chosen a slightly different angle to let the arm be cropped more naturally.

I realize how much I am learning from these lifedrawing classes! This was my last one here as I am  moving countries next week and will have to find a new one there. Hopefully an exciting way to connect to a community of local artists.

 

Sketchbook pages 4, more

Pencildrawing on A2, my torso:

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I am not very happy with this drawing, the pose is stiff and the skin got too dark.

Coloured pencils on A2:

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I like this second version much better- the perspective is more interesting and the colour adds some life.


Experiment inspired by Richard Hambleton‘s shadow figures:

Here I experiment on A3, with black ink, trying out the moving figure with quick rough brushstrokes:

I really didn’t expect this would be as difficult as it was. First of all it is not as quick as it looks.  Very few of the figures look good and they all got too skinny. I really have to learn to draw fatter, I just realized that is another pattern. I think one little circumstance that limited me is the tiny tidy space in my partner’s bedroom I am working in now. I managed to splatter red ink on the walls for the X ray pictures I posted in the last Sketchbook section, so I am super careful now. It is probably just a bad excuse, but it does feel limiting to have to be careful.

I drew the two last pictures, A4 in womb like ovals, and they are the part of the experiment that I like the most- the contrast between the wild movement and the womb.


Frustration, oil pastel A4:

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More oil pastel on black A4

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Limbs A4
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Blue day, A3 , colour pencil:

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Oil pastels in black A4 sketchbook:

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More oil pastels on black A4:

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An experiment inspired by Egon Schiele after writing about his work in the research section:

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I really admire the work of Egon Schiele, and this is nothing even remotely similar… but I really enjoy exploring artists by drawing inspired by their work.


Andre on black A4, oil pastel

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A4 colored pencils:

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The moving figure

ANTHONY GORMLEY (b. 1950, UK)

The British artist Anthony Gormley is primarily known for his sculptures and large installations, but I first came across his drawings while visiting the National Portrait Gallery in London – “Fall”, a series of 9 drawings of a falling body.

Every drawing is a solitary figure  in a void. This is a theme recurring in Gormley’s work- here from the series “the Grid” 2016:

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Or from the series “Body and Light” , ink drawings on wet ground:

In stead of placing the figure in recognizable surroundings, Gormley explores the human body in a void- questioning the relationship between the body we occupy and the space around it. All through his career , Anthony Gormley has been exploring this theme of the experience of occupying a human body. He uses his own body for casts for his sculptures.

I feel inspired to experiment with wet paper and human form and also to explore what difference it makes to leave the scribbled figures floating in space versus giving them somewhere to stand or something to hold on to.

Antonygormleycom. 2017. Antonygormleycom. [Online]. [23 January 2017]. Available from: http://www.antonygormley.com


RICHARD HAMBLETON b. 1954

Richard Hambleton was born in Canada but relocated to New York in the 1970’s. He became known as “the Godfather of street art” with his series of graffitti “Shadows” all over New York in the 1980’s.

Since then his paintings have been presented in galleries and museums with more than man sized shadow figures. I love the energy and spontaneous expression of these figures and can imagine the impressive effect when seeing them larger than man.

I love the way he can express a precise movement and even expression with only a shadow, a blur or dot of black paint. His brushstrokes seem as fast as the moving figures he captures.

I just now discovered that he even paints portraits in the same manner, including colour or gold dust.

There is definitely an “a la Richard Hambleton” experiment coming up in my “Sketchbook section” now.


 

DAVID HAINES b. 1969

David Haines is a British contemporary artist making videos and hyper realistic drawings in pencil on paper. I can just marvel at the skill and draughtmanship here. David Haines seems to catch a glimpse of a brief moment, a quick movement and moment in time, but renders it with such precision and detail, that it is a very slow process. I just read in an interview with the artist in the magazine “mimik”, that he spent a whole year on the giant pencil drawing “Radiant bodies” for example.

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David Haines collects various images mainly relating to a street and gay culture , and then reinterprets them in his own specific image language – “the drawings are not protests but they seek to create a new visual vocabulary”.

Sneakers and anatomical hearts appear in many of his works

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Fascinating detail and drawing skills, but I feel personally less touched by these hyper realistic drawings than the quick splattered movements by Richard Hambleton.

Mimikmagazinecom. 2017. Mimik Magazine. [Online]. [1 April 2017]. Available from: http://mimikmagazine.com/mirrorfragments/david-haines-gathering-languages/

Davidhainesorg. 2017. Davidhainesorg. [Online]. [1 April 2017]. Available from: http://www.davidhaines.org/work04.html


 EMMA TALBOT b. 1969
I discovered the British artist Emma Talbot in the beautiful book “Drawing people- the human figure in contemporary art” by Roger Malbert. At a first glimpse, I could have turned over the page and seen her watercolour drawings as cartoon like and light, but I found myself drawn to looking at them over and over again.
The drawings can be read as a diary, or as an imaginary diary of the same figure without facial features. They are like glimpses of a short mundane moment-like washing the clothes in a sink, or walking up the stairs.
Some drawings are complex stories interwoven in a intricate pattern
There is an underlying atmosphere of threat and sadness. I find myself a little surprised at how touched I am by these series of drawings.
Malbert, Roger (2016). Drawing people, the human figure in contemporary art. England: Thames & Hudson.
Emmatalbotorguk. 2017. Emmatalbotorguk. [Online]. [1 April 2017]. Available from: http://www.emmatalbot.org.uk/

 

HEATHER HANSEN

American dancer and artist Heather Hansen presents another perspective on “the figure in movement”- her own movements creating patterns on a huge paper she dances on with charcoal in her hands.

I am particularly attracted to this right now as my own movements are restricted due to medical condition, and I am usually a person with a regular dynamic yoga practice. I can’t wait to be able to move my arms freely again and try this out.

Heatherhansennet. 2017. Heatherhansennet. [Online]. [1 April 2017]. Available from: http://www.heatherhansen.net/


 

 

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:

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

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A more detailed skeleton in my A4 sketchbook:

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THE FEET

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

A4 sketchbook pages:

 

In my small brown book:

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TOES , coloured pencil in black A4:

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KNEES:

Coloured pencil on black A4:

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LEGS, A4 sketchbook

HANDS AND FINGERS:

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Felt tip pens in A4 Sketchbook:

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My hands :

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TORSO, A4 sketchbook

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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!