Lines, ideas and connectedness.

So here’s a couple of examples of some honest-to-goodness hand rendered material I’ve done this past year done about seven months apart.

The first image was arrived at in the span of about half an hour, the second in about one third of that time.  Yet in spite of that, it’s the second one that communicates its ideas more distinctly, with clarity, focus and most of all, economy.  There are few if any unnecessary lines.  Whatever it was that I was thinking during the first drawing, in hindsight it seems that I wanted to keep the pen moving and working, especially on the wrinkles in the clothing, as if  movement itself would produce better work.  I had the overall rhythms of the figures established, and it still works on that level, but breaking it down and honing the ideas once started proved to be an exercise in muddled thoughts.

What appears to be over-thinking in the first drawing is actually not thinking enough about the important ideas in the pose, letting the mind to wander into details that don’t end up contributing very much to the end result.  If each line is an idea, then these ideas weren’t connecting.  Michael Mattesi’s “Force” books and his Drawing Force website go into great detail about how to overcome theses kinds of obstacles.  Even after having gone through those texts, it wasn’t until one of the accompanying videos described the process in slightly different terms that the light was finally shed on what I was doing wrong.  Working smarter in this case, meant treating each change in direction a line took, each alteration in curvature  as a separate line and a separate idea formed as an extension of the previous one.

Look at the line of the outside right leg of the figure on the right in the first drawing.  You can see how it was drawn all at once due to the lack of thought given to the placement of any one curve.  While it ends up being a nice bit of descriptive texture, it remains somewhat disconnected because I wasn’t thinking about each curve as its own idea connecting to the next.  Compare that with the following example,  also created at about the same time as the second drawing above:


Notice the back of the right leg again, still dealing with cloth, but the change in direction the line takes between the hip and thigh and again between the thigh and the backside of the knee are all handled as separate lines each given attention on their own as extensions of the previous one.   Ironically, breaking down the lines in this fashion ends up showing more unity than the first drawing above, helping focus the overall image.

I highly recommend that aspiring artists wanting to hone their craft when drawing the human figure check out and the books of Michael Mattesi.  I expect several future posts may incorporate more of the discoveries I’ve made since reading and watching those references as it relates to hand-drawn work.

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