several years ago I visited Portland and went to a really pleasant park in the Pearl District of inner city. Loads of people were enjoying the sunny weather and a couple artist friends of mine and I decided to draw folks in the gracious surroundings. There were lots of moms out with their tykes and so I set up to sketch the view just behind one particularly relaxed group that looked really settled in.

Since then, I’ve reviewed this drawing many times having brought it along for many of my demonstrations and classes. Within is a figure of a young woman with a nifty hat that has become rather iconic to me. So I worked up a page of studies of her and how her limbs and muscles behaved in a posture that was both relaxed while requiring the ability to brace herself comfortably. I had my girlfriend pose and I looked at photos of me, shirtless, holding the same pose.
you can see relative to the woman next to her, that as her arms support the weight of her torso allowing her spine to curve as if resting against the back of a chair, her shoulders are pushed up, closer to her ears. This lets her head, which weights in the realm of 15 lbs, hang out over her clavicles with her chin just above her sternum. As for the muscles of her back, while they are elongated to follow the arc of her spine, (as shown in the following scan) they are also gathered as the shoulder force compression of her shoulder blades and the trapezius which forms the squeezed diamond shape from her neck to the crest of her shoulders and down to the middle of her back creating a furrow atop her spine.
To me, this was a useful exercise to help understand substructure and be mindful of how the body adjust to accommodate its own mass and the way in which some muscles contract while others simultaneously relax. You also become more explicitly aware of the elasticity of the body, at least youthful or limber physiques and the way it shifts to maintain balance against the forces of gravity. A person’s condition also determines what you can “read“ beneath the skin. If you are trying to compose figures from your imagination, studies like these give you loads of valuable info that help you make informed sketches and give your conceptualized drawings naturalism that have suitable proportions,  graceful flow and appear weight bearing, with the defining sub structures in credible locations.

These final 2 close ups also show how I like to use directional hatching or mark making in places to help describe the curvature of volume. Known as cross contour drawing, you can see me making use of it on the muscles of the left figure’s back, just as I have done on the marks on the right figure’s hat and pants.

Drawn with Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens and two fountain pens, the F-C Grip and the F-C Essentio Black Leather, both with Broad nibs on a Clairefontaine Goldline Watercolour sketchbook.

Revisiting A Pose

2 Responses to “Revisiting A Pose”

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Tags

  • blog links