Life drawing doesn’t have to only consist of using one medium, like charcoal or pencils. The nice thing about drawing the human form is trying it out with a variety of materials. Pastels and coloured papers are a great way of getting tonal values into your drawings, and can add colours to liven up a pose.
Inks, which can also come in a variety of colours, are another way of portraying the human form whilst creating some soft and flowing lines and highlights and shadows. Inks can be thinned out with water, if they are water-based, allowing a huge range of mid-tones that give the body depth and form.
For the session today, we used black water-based ink, and had access to brushes, metal tipped pens and bamboo nibs. All could be used together, separately, or one concentrated on if we had a favourite. I love to paint so I ended up using the brush a lot, but did add the bamboo tip a couple of times for some fine lines and variety in my mark-making.
I highly recommend trying out different materials when drawing, as we usually find a favourite few that we go back to over and over, by beginning with a broad range of experiments. I now have a huge pastel set, just because I got a small set of pastel pencils to play around with several years ago. I got such amazing results that I just kept adding and adding to my collection until I ended up with a huge kit of pastels, pastel pencils, charcoal pencils, and pan pastels. I also discovered favourite papers and cards to draw on depending on the medium, and they all have different uses depending on my subject.
A visit to the current Degas exhibition at the NGV in Melbourne, will quickly show how charcoal and pastels can be used to create some dynamic life drawings. There are excellent examples online of how ink can be similarly used for beautiful results when drawing the human form.
I will post one of my favourite five minute drawings from this session below. You will notice that a minimum amount of lines still shows the overall form of the body. My goal was to relax and enjoy the session without getting too caught up in making a perfect and tidy finished portrait-like portrayal of the model. As you may see, our model Ricki, one of my favourite models, poses in very different and dynamic positions, and has great muscle tone. He is also delightful to work with, consulting with the tutor and students and always willing to try something different.