Integrate your figures in simple compositions

Drawing figures is a lot of fun because the human body can has an infinite number of poses. Even better is taking an ordinary pose and placing it on an interesting surface. This type of drawing forces my brain to find visual solutions while creating interesting compositions. The ground automatically energizes the drawing because the space has been broken up for me. What a great shortcut!

I created this surface using a 9×12 sheet of red drawing paper and a piece of paper from an old book. The printed paper has a lot of cotton in it, so it’s very soft and takes adhesives well. When placing the collage together, I made sure the proportions were irregular—this is key to making the composition work. If the composition is broken into perfect halves or thirds, the space will be divided too evenly. Sometimes symmetry is great, but I find irregularity much more interesting. When placing the figure, I anticipated how it would impact the overall composition. I was careful to place the figure so the proportions interacted with the collage at irregular intervals.

This composition has only four values, and three of them are in large masses, which gives the composition a more graphic feeling. The large blocks or red, taupe and off-white divide the space and create the setting for the figure. The black adds the detail needed to balance out the large masses of value and defines the figure and the space. There’s a lot of contrast in this drawing, and the drawing is well executed and works as a focal point. In this case the figure almost becomes secondary to the composition, but I think that’s OK, because the rest of the composition holds the viewer’s attention. I also like the contrast between the rectilinear shapes of the collage and the windows balancing the softer lines of the figure.

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