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All over the map

Post #1209 • July 16, 2008, 7:48 PM • 19 Comments

Sitting in the presence of your irritating, inadequate self is pleasanter with a model in the studio, so I've had one come in a couple of times over the last few days. On the first day she did poses of increasing length, leading up to a single long pose. The second day took place after a long night for the model, so she crashed and I did a single realist drawing for some reason. Just to remind myself that I could do it? Who knows? Then, in an attempt impose some order on the style of the previous gouache still lifes, I started one in ink.

Supergirl encouraged me to have another look at an African violet drawing from last week, one started with a bamboo pen, which I had put away quickly without documenting. When I did so, I came across three figure studies done last December that I had treated similarly.

There's room for fifteen drawings in the show and I could produce twenty or more before sending them off. Next I'm going to try starting work with a light pencil line so that I don't have to compose with the brush, and consequently I hope they're going to come out a little less random. But I'm totally open to suggestions at this point.




July 16, 2008, 9:10 PM

With all due respect,those remind me of the balloon animals clowns make for children at parties.
Look within the form to find its out-line.don't fear the body's mass.think of her in 3 dimensions,not as a flat stencil.



July 16, 2008, 9:13 PM

Oh,and use your eyes.not your memory.



July 16, 2008, 9:58 PM

There you have it Franklin, all the advice you'll ever need.


Chris Rywalt

July 17, 2008, 6:38 AM

The African violet drawing here really shows your Japanese woodblock influence -- it could almost be a woodblock print itself. It's also nice to see you work with steadier, more solid line. Of course that's my style, so it's what I like to see.

I think your figures from December are better than the newer ones, but it may be the color that works. That gouache, the more realist one, is lovely.

What I think Redneck is picking up on is your tendency to cut into the weight of the shape with your outline; you're curving inward in places where the model curves more outward. That's okay if it's what you want to do, or part of a process you like.

What I've been doing is sketching in pencil and then going over it with the brush pen. I can get very tight that way. I haven't scanned those drawings yet, but they come out pretty okay. It's one of the only ways I get a full figure on the paper, too, so you're right -- you can compose in pencil and make repairs before you commit.

It's funny -- you've talked with me about improving my color, and I'm thinking maybe you should try some figure studies without color. Just working in ink. Maybe try and think like a sumi-e painter for a bit, and block in with quick, bold strokes. No washes, just black. Just to see how it goes. But I love your use of color. I'm inspired to try some more color work myself, now.

I feel like we're two sides of one artist, Franklin. Together we could be great!



July 17, 2008, 7:30 AM

Dear Chranklin,

The December works fill out the page better. December #2 is my pick of the bunch for complexity and colour and feeling. I tend to favour the ones where the line weight varies enough to add some complexity to the space, The more open even contoured ones might hold up better at a bigger scale...24 x 30 minimum, and if they filled out the page a bit more. The simple background elements usually help organize the drawings in which they are included.



July 17, 2008, 9:19 AM

The "Begonia and Drafting Table" works vey well. The "African Violet" ink and WC is pretty, soft and delicate, but feels a little wan, relatively speaking.



July 17, 2008, 10:12 AM

hey Franklin you might want to remind yourself of your goal right from the outset, whether it an impulsive feeling, a strong value, a moving light etc.. then give yourself permission to forget it ONLY if some better goal comes while working. I agree with dude that the december ones hold better. They seems to have a unifying achievement of a goal. For what ever its worth.



July 17, 2008, 10:17 AM

Yeah Dec. Nude 1. seems so much more clean and clear both technically and mood. Any way in which you might be able to recreate the state of mind during the execution of this one?


Stranger To Herself

July 17, 2008, 10:39 AM

landscape annihilates consciousness



July 17, 2008, 11:54 AM

Poses: doing features, especially small features, that must conform to reality with a very flexible brush is a problem. Flexible brushes are best for giving expression to realistic elements that are simple and don't need to have proportional exactness, like plants, mountains etc

Violet: flowers & leaves very good. color good. Pot needs to be darker and slightly modelled.

Begonia: pot & flowers good; the dark parts of the angular background device are too close in value to the leaves and it "grabs" the subject.

"December" has charm and light and is by far the best of the three figure studies. Really nice color. My favorite of all of these pix you posted.


Chris Rywalt

July 17, 2008, 12:18 PM

I disagree about the brushes, OP. I find you can get very precise with a flexible brush if you've practiced. It may not be the best use of a brush, but it can be done. I should post some of my recent inks.

Watercolor doesn't lend itself to detailed treatment like that, especially if you're composing as you go. Inks are better. It depends, too, on whether you're wetting the paper like you're "supposed" to, or going in dry.



July 17, 2008, 12:58 PM

"It may not be the best use of a brush"

Exactly. It is not what you are capable of doing under difficult circumstances but what is best for the job.


Chris Rywalt

July 17, 2008, 1:29 PM

I don't mean it in quite that sense -- not so much what tool is best for the job, but what job is best for the tool. What I've been doing more lately is picking a tool and medium and seeing what it does. This is different from the other way, which is to look at your toolbox while thinking about what you want to do and choosing the tool you think will work best. They're two sides of the same coin, I guess.

So in figure drawing, you've got this pose in front of you. You do a drawing (or more, depending) using sumi ink on drawing-weight paper using a #20 brush. Then maybe you switch to watercolor-weight paper, a sumi-e brush, sumi ink, and diluted sumi ink. Then maybe you do a pencil sketch, go over it with brush pen, and then add colored inks.

That way you can see what each method does as it interacts with the model in front of you and your hand and eye.

That's what I've been doing lately, anyway. I don't intend it as a prescription, just a description. So, thinking that Franklin chose watercolors and brush, and felt he wanted those real details, he could get them. It's possible within the medium. It's not what watercolors are good at, maybe, or what they're for; but if it's what his hand and eye aimed for given the model and their pose, he could get there.



July 17, 2008, 2:01 PM

This is a ton of good feedback. Thank you.

There is a lightness to the watercolor nudes that make the gouaches look a little buried by comparison, and I hadn't noticed it until you all pointed it out. That's interesting because the watercolors are limited palette: black (actually a W&N color called Blue Black), yellow ochre, and Venetian red.

Landing those little calligraphic notes with a flexible brush is my main strength as a painter, so I'm trying to capitalize on that, but it would take a lot of pressure off my ability to do so if I laid down a loose drawing first.

Opie, which December Nude do you prefer?

Chris - I find that the paper gets wet enough as you work without having to deliberately work wet into wet. That's "supposed to" thing is a myth.


Chris Rywalt

July 17, 2008, 2:15 PM

I think it depends on what you're looking for from your watercolors. The wet-on-wet of watercolors is for really loose painting, for letting the colors wash across the paper. It's for bleeding and pooling. Gouache doesn't lend itself to this -- gouache, I think, is mainly for going over dry watercolors to tighten things up a bit. The opacity of gouache going wet-on-wet is too heavy. And if you work wet-on-dry, as you're doing -- with gouache especially but also with watercolor -- you're basically using thinned acrylics. I myself have been guilty of using watercolors like acrylics, but honestly, there's not much point. Might as well go with those newfangled acrylics that let you "re-wet" using a special solution. (I forget the company that makes them; we had a demo and free samples at SVA last year.)


Milé Murtanovski

July 17, 2008, 3:25 PM


My favourite of the figure studies if the "single long pose" (Nude on Couch). The colours are very lively despite coming from a limited palette.

I love it when you can see the "edges" of watercolours as though they're torn pieces of delicate, coloured tissue paper. A good healthy combo of showing the edges and blending the colours really shows off the beauty of the medium itself (which got me into it twenty years ago).

My only suggestion would be that a more varied line weight would make the figures a bit more dynamic. My figure studies teacher at OCA (well before it was, and is now, OCAD) had us using a thicker line where the body is more fleshy (thighs, cheeks, etc.) and a thinner line where the bones come closer to the surface (knees, chin, etc.)...but I find comoc book inkers do almost the opposite to indicate lighting rather than describe muscle/fat/bone relationships (but even in my own comic work I'll use the "traditional" method 'cause it makes more sense to me).

Either way, a varied line weight looks nice, and you've got it going on in Orange Nude, which I like a lot, too.




July 17, 2008, 3:41 PM

Sorry, I guess I didn't pay attention.

It is the one in the last batch, under "three", the reclining nude in the reddish ochres.


Chris Rywalt

July 17, 2008, 4:24 PM

I think I agree with OP. I think it's the face, but it may also be the watercoloriness of it. Also, I think that kind of pose is hard to screw up, with the wonderful curve of the hip there. I'm a little tired of drawing that kind of thing, actually, but it's nearly a guaranteed winner.


Chris Rywalt

July 17, 2008, 6:37 PM

If you want to see what I'm talking about with what I've been doing, you can see my latest blog post.



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