Project 4 – Exercise 2: Three figure drawings

For this exercise I spent some time with my sketchbook on 2 min poses with different viewpoints and poses. I was looking for some interesting poses and viewpoints that could give the drawing a certain appeal. Either through a potential narrative, interesting diagonals, or by expression of a certain mood and atmosphere. After doing this preliminary exercises that took quite some time and efforts, I selected the for me most interesting poses for each subject.
For the final drawings I considered the allotted time of 30min to 1 hour (not considering pre work)

1. Seated

I chose a backview on a bed with a downwards look of the model. The eye level is around the middle.

Some ideas that came across my mind on this:  – morning wake-up, still tired, questioning what happened in the past and what will come up, uncertainty.

For this I was looking for flowing and repetitive markings, contrasting elements in black and white. For this I was looking back at my contextual research and work on –> Emma Stibbon, so I thought that this approach would fit quite well. From composition point of view I played a bit with the surrounding space and chose an off center placement of the figure, only some space above the head, so that the sightline would go from the figure towards the right side of the picture.

I started with a loosely blocking in the overall shape of the figure and continued with black ink and a wide brush for the background space (top and bottom). I was not too accurate here as I could work out details on shape later on with black of white Conté crayon. With this settled I started with the drawing of the figure and the blanket in parallel with strokes of white and black Conté crayon. I used a small towel where necessary to smudge softer edges.

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - Sitting

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – Sitting

My preliminary sketchbook studies.

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - Sitting - Sketchbook

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – Sitting – Sketchbook

Overall I am quite pleased with this drawing. Without the drying time for the ink (what went quite fast) it took me around 45 min. On certain parts I think I worked too much back and force with black and white crayon with the result that it turned out too grey.  I was not able to make further white marks on top of it. Something I need to look into when working with Conté crayon.

2. Lounging

For this drawing I chose a top down view – a kind of peaking view into the intimate reading act on a black sofa. I liked the diagonal from the head down to the knees. I selected a cropped pose in order not to loose the strong compositional line (so not feet on this one).

Some ideas that crossed my mind: – calm, relax, soft.

I tried a more experimental approach on this one: After previous experiences with Conté chalk on smooth paper I choose to make it rather rough. I found from Lascaux a pastel ground (acrylic) that I mixed with charcoal powder to cover the whole surface. As the background of the sofa was black I poured on the still wet surface charcoal powder in the upper part of the composition (too separate from the intended body line). The drying took a but more time, so I continued the other day.

I blocked in first the major shapes and highlights in white crayon, continued with black for the shadow marks following a yellow/ochre Conté crayon for the body flesh. I was careful to focus on the planes of the head and face and to avoid outlines (my tutor made this remark during an intermediate feedback loop with him on previous exercises).

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - Lounging

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – Lounging

My preliminary sketchbook studies:

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - Lounging - Sketchbook

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – Lounging – Sketchbook

Considering the quite experimental approach I am well pleased with the unexpected visual effect. I didn’t have a roller, so I had to put the thick paste with a knife onto the paper, leaving quite rough texture. The result was that surface texture strongly is getting through the drawing and the marking with Conté crayon went not so controlled. This is something for me to work deeper on in the future. Without the preparation it took me around 1 hour for the drawing.

3. Standing

For this subject I chose an upwards viewpoint making the sight line more interesting. Additionally there is strong diagonal with a weight point at the left. I decided to crop the figure to the right (partly shown arm) and to the left (partly shown hand) in order to focus more on the head and the diagonals.

Some ideas that crossed my mind: – forward looking, patience, looking for expression.

I went back for my drawing approach to my contextual research and work on –> Frank Auerbach with a constant back and force drawing in charcoal and rubber to find forms and expression.

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - Standing

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – Standing

My preliminary sketchbook studies:

Stefan513593 - project 4 - exercise 2 - Standing - Sketchbook

Stefan513593 – project 4 – exercise 2 – Standing – Sketchbook


Overall I am quite pleased with this drawing considering the time constraints. It took me a bit more than one hour.  There are still a few not so drawn well parts e.g. fingers or areas where I could have worked more into the surface e.g. negative space, but I left it at that point as a learning point for me to understand time needed for the different drawing approaches.


  • How accurately did you depict the overall proportions of the figure?
    => I measured the major shapes and the relationshop of them at the beginning and refuguarly during the drawing process. The preliminary studies helped me greatly to get a good understanding about stance, energy, and proportions of the posed figure.
  • Did imagining the sitter’s skeleton and muscles help you to convey the figure’s structure and form?
    => Yes, my preliminary intense studies of the human body and its structure helped to understand the underlying elements (skeleton, muscles) and to used them to draw a believable and proportional figure.


  • I experimented with different drawing approaches that I selected based on the pose, the mood and my thought that crossed my mind at that time.
  • I decided to consider the allotted time in this exercise. But especially on the approach for the standing figure I could have used more time.
  • Preparation of a surface: I tried two variants – one already used with black ink and a new one with pastel ground and charcoal. Especially the latter one need more tests to master better.
  • Working first in sketchbook to get use to the model and different poses helped substantially to work more effectively on the final drawings.

Next time:
– Rethinking when working with Conté crayon how I can add further layers of white without making the part looking greyish.
– Leaning more about pastel ground preparation in order to manipulate the surface more controlled.

Reference of inspiration:
  • Insight about Marlene Dumas’ approach to figurative art / adding a figure to a background. Available from: [accessed 08 Sep 2015]
  • About her truly wet drawing approach, working on the floor / letting the flow of water make markings. Available from: [accessed 08 Sep 2015]

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