Dec 8, 2016

Putting Figures in Your Painting - Drawing & Painting Tips

Do you want people in your paintings?
Believable looking people that you can be proud of?

I know what it is like, you have this great picture of a beach and you want some life on it: someone walking on your road; sitting on your bench; something like that.  I am not talking about portrait painting, just some life in your landscape.

Lady at the park throwing the ball for her dog - Graphite Sketch
I have been working with figures and people with one of my students recently.  It spurred me on to revisit this type of work.  (As you know, wildlife is more my focus)

For me the best approach is using a Line of Action.  This is a single gesture that captures the stance of the figure.  I find the Line of Action a powerful tool in capturing the shape or movement of birds, animals and even plants and flowers.  That simple gestured line tells you:
- the height
- where the figure fits on the page
- a reference for the movement
- a sense of proportion
- a strong starting point
- a reference point for relating the body parts
Line of Action for the Lady - note that it is on a bit of an angle
Once you have the line you can begin to dress it up.  Add the body trunk - notice it is in two parts, chest and shoulders is one and hips is the second part.  Look carefully at the angles for both.  They are not parallel unless the figure is standing total straight. Add the head and gestures for the arms and legs.
Main Body parts are indicated

As you add the shapes pay attention to size relationships and angles:  Trunk is bigger than hips; arms come down past the hip when straight;  bent arm meets at a specific junction.

Next add the mass for the arms and legs:
Figure with arms and leg mass added
A few key things to remember here are: arms and legs have 3 parts each.  Arms are part of the shoulder and so come out of the trunk, they do not sit on the edge.  The arm shapes overlap because of the joints, they are not just tubes that touch each other.  The same is true with the legs. Notice that the legs start up into the hip and overlap at the knee and foot. Again, pay attention to size relationships and angles.

 At this point the drawing looks a bit like the Michelin Tire Man.  But that is a good thing.  You now have a figure that has mass and a believable the stance.  Now you can dress him or her.  You will find it easy to place the clothing on as you have good bench marks for things like where the shirt flares out, how the pants fit and more.

If you are looking for more info, this site here is good and free.  Their step by step tutorial has some very good examples.
Do you have trouble with putting interesting people in your work?  Any tricks or tips you do to help make it work?  We would all love to hear them.

I am going to spend a bit of time with the Line of Action.  I will show you some other ways to use it in my next post.  As I said before, it is a very powerful gesture.

Two Things to help with your Christmas Shopping:

Christmas Cards
1.  Take a Christmas Break for a Relaxing Evening: Make Tangled Christmas Cards Monday, Dec. 12, 5:30-7:30, Expressions Art Gallery, 227 & Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge.  Learn how to use ink and watercolour to make some really special cards.  $30 Supplies Included.  REGISTER NOW  with Wendy

2.  A really special gift for the Artist on your list:
 All day Marketing Workshop - Let's Get Your Art Out There - Sunday, Feb 26 or March 5, 2017.  This is an opportunity to work with a small group focusing on ways that work for you, to market your art.  Whether you are looking at full time or part Art Sales, there are effective, proven strategies that will get your work out the door. $70 Limited to 8 per session.  Art by Wendy Studio/Gallery, N. Surrey, BC.  REGISTER NOW  with Wendy.   Out of Towners give me a call and we can set something up.
Great gift for yourself or an artist you know.  Gift Certificates are available.   

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Have a great artful day,

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