I enjoy the challenge of foreshortened poses and with this one it just seemed right to emphasise the length and movement through the body by framing the head fairly tightly into the top corner so the model’s torso and legs seem to unravel and extend down the page…or is she maybe curling up…or turning over?
By taking the figure beyond the frame I was aiming to convey a sense of his size and weight and a feeling of slow or restricted movement. The wet carbon pencil is bold. It makes fat black indelible lines and there’s no going back so it feels more risky than a soft malleable medium like charcoal. I’m pleased with how it turned out.
The cut-out effect is the result of photographing the drawing in poor lighting, which made the whole thing a bit grey, then erasing the background area in Photoshop to lighten it.
I’ve sometimes done this on previous posts to clean them up a bit around the corners but it’s more obvious and deliberate-looking here, and I like how the soft grey links the three individual poses together to create an apparent group of figures.
With this little study I couldn’t resist taking the wash-in a bit further and introduced some colour notes so it hovers between drawing and painting. The pencil grid lines are a traditional method to help with placement and correspond with a similar grid I’ve made on clear acetate in a slide frame.
Grid method: Make a clear viewfinder and draw your grid lines onto it. A piece of clear acetate in an old slide transparency frame works well for a small portable grid. Then draw a matching scaled-up grid on the canvas. Look through your viewfinder to select the scene you want to draw/paint and then transpose that scene onto the canvas. It’s like marking reference points on a map. You can locate key points on the little viewfinder’s grid…top of head, left knee, right big toe etc…and mark them in relation to the grid on the canvas. Of course it also works for still lifes, landscapes and other subjects, and for scaling up photographs etc.
NB: Make sure both grids have the same aspect ratio i.e. the ratio of the longer side to the shorter side needs to be the same for both the canvas and the viewfinder. Otherwise you’ll be all over the place!
With a bit of practice this can be easier and more accurate than placing the whole scene without a reference grid, especially if the composition is quite complex.