The human body is a road map of memories and experiences.
Laugh lines tell of the comedies we watch, the silly things we hear children say, or simply good times with friends. Wrinkles show our worry for loved ones, and stretch marks–although they’re dreaded and regretted by many–celebrate the mystery of life itself.
Then there’s shape: the arch of a foot, the curve of a hip, the angle of the jaw. These lines and more have captured our attention since the beginning of time. Perhaps it’s the unique nature of the body that makes us want to draw it. No two are alike, and even if people share the same shape or build, they each have their own freckles and physical idiosyncrasies that make them each an individual. Or, maybe it’s what we have in common; when we study another body, we can’t help but compare it to our own, for better or for worse.
To me, figure drawings are beautiful because they’re timeless. It could be a person from any century, any country in the world, and yet I can relate to his or her humanity. Of course, artists use different styles; Lucian Freud was brutally honest in his renditions of the form, to the point of causing offense to–gasp–even other artists.
“Anyone can become an expert at drawing figures after one year of study and practice, if s/he just follows a specific sequence of steps,” says Lance Richlin, featured in the eMagazine Painting the Figure in Oil, Pastel and Watercolor. “Drawing a figure is not as mysterious and complicated as many people believe. It’s a matter of simplifying the process into progressive stages, learning how to make accurate visual measurements, understanding how light and shadow define a three-dimensional form, and then drawing final outlines around a figure that have been corrected at each stage. It’s a skill, pure and simple.”
Painting the Figure in Oil, Pastel and Watercolor includes more advice from Richlin, as well as step-by-step demonstrations so that you can hone your skills and express the figure as only you can do.
Your fellow human,