The next step

I have worked from the live nude periodically since the early 1970's. This blog started August 9th, 2012 in my second year of working almost exclusively from the figure.

In the fall of 2015 I reintroduced still lifes and an occasional cityscape into my painting repertoire. Rather than abandon this figure blog or start a new one I decided to add them to the conservation.

All drawings and paintings posted on this blog were done entirely from live models or on location.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Model's Eye View

Late in 2012 I became aware of a Sunday night session in Richmond, VA that used three models at once. I had worked from two models several times without much success, so the idea of three bordered on the absurd. Wanting to break out of my comfort zone I decided to make the trip.  The sessions were held in an old firehouse with a theater stage at one end. I had attended two previous times and drew with everyone else from the floor looking up at the models on stage. This time, however, with the encouragement of the model coordinator I positioned myself on stage behind the models.

Figure Session, oil pastel on toned paper, 11 3/4 X 15 1/2, 2012

Talk about being out of my comfort zone!  I was invading their space. But the models couldn't have been more welcoming.  Probably out of fear I was very focused right away wanting to catch as much as I could in a short three hours. At some point I started including the artists. Unlike the models they were in a constant state of flux. People changing locations and shifting positions.

Overall the evening was very stimulating, rewarding and comfort zone expanding.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Blog Monster

When I started this blog nearly two months ago I intended to post roughly once a week. I'm only posting on topics I find interesting and not on some self imposed schedule. But like a child with a new toy I have been posting at twice that rate. I have no previous experience with this media. The only thing comparable is my handwritten personal journal.  I use it to make observations and keep a chronological record of my figurative work. It has proven to be very helpful.

This blog is a different creature. From the first post I was aware of a potential audience. It's no longer strictly personal. I'm trying to make each entry coherent and am thoroughly enjoying the process. But I'm becoming concerned that it may be actually tapping and sapping my creative reservoir.  I will have to be aware of keeping my main focus at the easel and drawing pad.

Anyway, after a two week hiatus from drawing due in part to over blogging, here is an oil pastel from an open model session at The Art League in Alexandria, Virginia.

Seated Nude, 9 3/4" X 9 3/4", 3 hours

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Turned On

In order to do a meaningful drawing or painting I have to be excited or turned on by the scene in front of me. There has to be a core or essence that excites me. In my experience a successful work has to capture that essence to fully resonate.

Since turning my attention to the figure almost two years ago, I've done only a handful of non figurative works. This set up turns me on. The simple composition. The pickle/pepper greens contrasting with the deep red background. The strong shadows and translucent glass.  I like this subject so much I've done three versions.

Pickles and Peppers III, Oil on canvas, 18" X 22", 2013

Talk about being excited. At a group session last year I set up around the side of the model and was immediately awe struck. I really was. I had forgotten my pencil sharpener or something and had to go across the room to fetch it. I was excited like a kid called in for dinner wanting to get back outside to play ball. The torso twist. The mussel and bone structures. The lighting. I was hooked.

 Nude Study, oil pastel, 2012

Working from a live female nude can be complicated for a heterosexual male. I'll tackle that topic in a future post.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Expressive, complex and hard to draw.  Hands have been a favorite of mine since art school.  One rarely gets a good expressive hand pose with the live model.  When you do you usually have just one chance to catch it. Coming back from a break in a long pose, the hands are never the same. This session the model was holding her glasses. She was breaking every 20 minutes. Each time she resumed the pose her hand was slightly different. As luck would have it, I was struggling with the scale of the hand so I just kept redrawing it. I ended up with a lively sort of composite hand.

Figure Study, oil pastel, 11" X 9", 2013

For longer more detailed hand studies you always have a free live model.  Being left handed I've done countless drawings and a few paintings of my right hand. Here are some ball point pen studies taken from a sketch book done sometime in the 1980's.

Hand Studies

And a longer oil study from 2001.

Hand Study, oil on linen, 9" X 11", 2001

Using one's own hand as a model has obvious limitations.  Unless you are working in a mirror you always have a looking away view.  It is still a good practice tool.  Much of the fear of drawing hands can be alleviated by practice. First break the fingers into planes then individual fingers.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Past vs Present

Three posts ago I used a 39 year old drawing to make a point about being in the moment when working on a drawing or painting. Looking at that drawing made this comparison too obvious to pass up.  A male figure study from 2011 paired with the male figure study from 1974.  A thirty seven year gap.
Male nude, 2011 

Male Nude, 1974

I wouldn't say the 2011 drawing is "better".  It has sharper, more confident line work and the pose is more dynamic. But the older drawing has an atmosphere and sense of calm that make up for any technical shortcomings. Overall I would say the drawings are comparable.  Not sure what this says about my progress or lack of progress drawing the figure over the last 39 years.