Friday, March 4, 2016

Gobelins Figure Drawing Week!

4 days, 3 sketchbooks, 1 colored paper pad. Pure bliss!

Two weeks ago we had a 4-day full-time drawing course with instructor Niall Laverty. Yes, 7-hours a day of drawing is pretty exhausting, but I loved it! It was such a relief to step away from the computer and get back to making marks on paper the old-fashioned way. I realized how much I had missed it.

To begin with, we posed for each other
I've been doing figure drawing on my own ever since graduating college but I found getting to do it with an instructor again was so much more valuable!

He really pushed us to get away from portraying anatomy and details, and trying to capture the gesture of the pose, the feel of it. This was somewhat difficult for me at first because I had built up certain habits over the years that I had to consciously fight against. Although near the end I started grasping the idea a bit more, and became looser in my work - it remained a constant battle for me.

It was clear this course was designed for animators because it focused on teaching us to focus on the essence, the force, the line, the spirit of the pose - not the details. For 90% of the week, we stuck to 30-second or 1-minute poses. This was key to the whole exercise - to give you enough time to think about how to relay the overall idea, but not enough time to get bogged down in details like perfect anatomy and shading. Surprisingly, this time limit actually had the effect of improving my proportions because I was forced to focus on the entire pose and be constantly aware of how different body parts relate to each other, as opposed to enjoying the rendering of a hand, for example, at the expense of everything else.

We modeled for each other the first morning, then had a female model. The following day we had a male model, and then both of them!
We covered different topics and did a variety of exercises each day. I really enjoyed the fact that Niall forced us to talk about each other's work after every few drawings - pointing out what worked,  what didn't, and how it could be improved. Seeing what great stuff other people were doing gave me fresh new ideas to try in my own work!
We talked about line of action, straight lines versus curves, working from inside the model (avoiding outlining), emphasizing weight with line quality and thickness. I feel that Niall succeeded with his constant encouragement to look for gesture, and how to convey it most clearly.

Simplifying was an important concept for me to try and work into every drawing. Another was not being a slave to reality but exaggerating it and bending it to get a stronger pose or to emphasize parts that relayed the story of the action better.

On the next-to-last day, when focusing on shape - he had us "sketch" with knives, cutting out the figure we saw in front of us. That was something I had never done before and it forced me to simplify even more - something I really enjoyed and found useful for my own self-development in regard to this type of drawing.

About a week after the course, I sat down to draw again and it felt different. The course did seem to affect the way my mind approached the first marks I put down. I thought a lot more about the feel of the action and the overall force of the pose, and much less than usual about where to position the anatomical landmarks of the character. Niall's course gave me a much more liberated, loose, and in the end - fun approach to drawing.

Below are some more of the highlights from our week-long course:

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