Part 4: Project 4: Structure

Exercise 1: The Structure of the Human Body

For this exercise, I decided to work firstly in black drawing pens, but they soon ran out of ink (I have more on order though! Phew!), so I then switched to black biro. Looking at the exercise again, I think I was meant to look at the muscles and such, however, I decided there would be far too much detail for me and chose to work on the different positions created from the view of the surface.

There are a few studies which work much better than others; for instance, I think the hands, arms legs and torsos work best overall, whereas there are a few which have gone slightly awry, including the top right foot, bottom right neck and central skull.

For the skull, I think I may have kept changing my angle unknowingly and, once I finally sat back to actually look at what I had put on the paper, I was then able to see where I had gone wrong, i.e. the left side of my skull being too stretched and the nose twisted slightly. I struggled with the teeth in the skull, however, I improvised by only creating the shadows in the ‘gum’ area and the natural gaps between the teeth. I thought the skull would be the easiest to recreate due to the big empty spaces and basic shapes, however, I actually think it was the hardest due to the lack of ‘instructions’ provided and indications as to where this and that should be in relation to other sections.

I think the issues with the feet and other such failed attempts was due to the fact they were created on a small scale, whereas when they were created on a larger scale, they appear more realistic. I definitely agree with my tutor’s comments (and hear them again and again) that to be expressive my style definitely suits a larger scale.

Research Point: Historic and Contemporary Artists use of the Body’s Underlying Structure

The results of this Research Point can be found by clicking here.

Exercise 2: Three Figure Drawings

For this exercise, I attended a local life drawing class. The model asked if there were any preferences as to positions, so I advised about my course and the requirements of the exercise. The model attempted to assist me as best she could, however, there were also other regularly-attending members who had worked in similar ways recently, so the model tried to compromise somewhat.

I tried to carry out quick observations of each pose in my sketchbook before moving on to a larger study with more time. For the quick studies in my sketchbook, I chose to work very fast to get as much information down on the page as possible, but to also try and see interesting areas which stood out with foreshortening aspects or deep contrasts in tones etc.

Standing Quick Close-up Studies

For the first study in this pose, I was aiming for the sketch to be more like that of the second study, however, I found I had drawn the main focus (the breast and chair contrasts) too small and continued to fill the page with the rest of the detail. I recreated this again, but zoomed in much more this time (second study). I then tried to zoom in on the foreshortening of the bent leg and foot, as well as the contrast in tonal values in the third and fourth sketches.

I definitely struggle with recreating a foot which appears to bend back and touch the leg when facing away from me. This is something I think I should really try and work on and to figure out why it is that they do not look realistic – perhaps it is where I have laid my shadowing?

I think the depth, sense of direction and flow of the flesh is well recreated in the drawing pen pieces, however, again, I have pressed too hard. I think these would perhaps be better in biro and in very concentrated areas with varying pressures.

I also think the wax crayon is much more capable of producing softer end results for me, but I also really enjoy the oil pastel as it allowed me to show such things as the slight cellulite in the leg, however, I definitely press too hard when creating the outline. This is something I need to work on also – that fine line between outline and cartoon.

Seated Quick Close-up Studies

For these studies, the model had moved to a seated position on a stool so, again, I tried to focus on foreshortening and tonal aspects. I did not find this pose as interesting as the rest, potentially due to the lack of twists in the body creating interesting areas?

Again, the wax crayon was the more delicate of the media used, though I do really like the contrast created by the oil pastel.

The model moved slightly throughout this pose, so some perspectives are slightly skewed – something I need to bear in mind when drawing from life.

I also think the study of the face was rather unsuccessful at showing the tilt in the model’s head. I think I needed to increase the size of the size of the chin and reduce the size of the forehead perhaps?

Overall, I think it becomes apparent that when I have to work quickly, I focus more on getting the information down than ensuring it is in the most accurate position etc.

Lounging Quick Close-up Studies

The model then moved to a lounging position and I really enjoyed this one. There were several areas of interest to me and in which I was able to show the twists and turns of the flesh over the bones below.

Again, the model moved slightly in this pose, however, I think I was slightly better at correcting my studies to suit.

The third study is by far my favourite due to the contrasts between the flesh and shadows. I think I have managed to accurately measure the feet and have placed them in a believable position.

Longer Studies

Looking back at all of the studies created, both large and small, for this exercise, I think I have a long way to go to being able to create life in the face and to prevent it from looking too flat. With more time, I think I could have concentrated on the tonal contrasts to build the detail of the face up.

Looking at these studies and larger pieces, I can see that I still apply a lot of pressure when working rather quickly. I wonder whether this is something I can actually learn to control or whether this is just who I am? I actually really enjoy putting emotion into my work and the deep pressure and darker marks created have a certain ‘release’ effect on me. However, I am determined to show my tutor that I CAN reel myself in (even if I feel uncomfortable doing so) and have every intention of creating final pieces for this Part of the course which are of a much finer quality, taking time to stop and reflect several times and remembering my tutor’s comment of “less is more”!

Research Point: Historic and Contemporary Artists’ use of the Body’s Underlying Structure

When I first looked at this Research Point, I was rather hesitant to look into it as I thought that, whilst I really enjoy drawing the exterior of the figure, the underlying structure did not really appeal to me too much. However, I decided I had to look deeper than I would have by choice and was surprised to come across a few pieces which actually caught my intrigue.

Firstly, I knew from general knowledge garnered over the years that a keen lover of the human figure was da Vinci, with his Vitruvian Man so I decided to look into whether he had studied the underlying structures (as I was not aware of this side of his workings) and was rather surprised to find the below image.

Fig. 1. da Vinci, L Pen-and-Ink Studies of Human Fetus (1510)

Whilst the fetus appears to be intact and covered with skin, it is clearly shown as though from within a woman’s womb. This fascinated me as clearly da Vinci really was interested in all parts of the human body and I think these notes and sketches and the delicate techniques used to create the baby shows his admiration for the whole process of our coming into being and his respect for nature’s powers and beauty. Da Vinci has used hatching and the shadowed areas to show the depth of the sketch’s details and also and the roundness of the fetus’s enclosure. The only detail in the sketch is created purely by shadowed areas. I think this could be really useful for me to recreate in areas I struggle with, toes and fingers for example.

Fig. 2. del Barbiere, D Two Flayed Men and their Skeletons (c. 1540 to 1545)

I came across the above image and found it rather interesting. The piece shows two men whose muscles are all exposed, standing next to what appears to be their own skeletons. Whilst there is a lot of detail in this piece, I really like how the artist has, just like da Vinci, used shadow to show the parts and finder details of the men instead of having drawn each part individually. I like how the artist has used more of a solid coloured approach in the piece, using the side of the pencil as opposed to the point. The artist has also used a broad tonal range throughout which, again, I can bear in mind for my own pieces.

Fig. 3. Rubens, P Anatomical Studies: A Left Forearm in Two Positions and a Right Forearm (c. 1600 to 1605)

I find the piece above slightly disturbing for some reason; I think perhaps it is because it appears unnatural and malformed. The index fingers also appear to be placed in unnatural positions; I think these are natural positions, but without the overlay of skin, they appear somewhat disjointed. However, I really like how the artist has used very light and precise cross-hatching and other techniques throughout to bring depth to the piece. The darkest areas of the piece have also not been created in too heavy a hand and do not appear to be as dark as they possibly could. This is something I definitely struggle with as I really enjoy creating the darkest parts, however, it is something I need to work on controlling to better myself.

Fig. 4. Dine, J The Side View (1986)

When I came across the above image, I was instantly drawn in and mesmerised by it. I just love how dark the darkest areas are, how the whole top right-hand corner is very shadowed and the lower left corner rather light. The markings used to create the shadowing to the depth of the skull are very expressive. Before I started this research, I was not very keen on the skull as a subject, however, since seeing this piece, I have become fascinated with it and consider it is something I think I will really enjoy working with. I think the reason I am drawn to it is because there are hardly any fine details besides the teeth, but there are several angles and deep hollows in such places as the eye and nose cavities. There are also areas where shadows do not really hit, such as the bulk of the bulbous part area and the fore-front contours of the teeth. I can really see myself creating something very similar to this and use the skull as a focal point within my work.

Fig. 5. MalteGruhl 196978999515 (unknown)

Again, when I came across this piece, I was instantly drawn to it but for slightly different reasons. Whilst the artist has also used the skull, this time the marks have been made using more of a brush stroke technique and the paint applied rather liberally. It appears almost as though the skull has been covered with material and the lower part removed. I really like the block colours and contrast between the darker and lighter areas. The top of the skull does not quite look right to me. The outline looks rather wrong and cartoon-like. I think the piece would have been much better without the addition of the outline. However, it does work to create a sense that the outline is somehow above the rest of the piece, for example as though it has been drawn on a sheet of tracing paper and placed on top of the original.

I like this method and think I will give it a try as it will come in rather handy when I have to create pieces which have blocks of tonal values.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. da Vinci, L (1510) Pen-and-Ink Studies of Human Fetus [Pen and ink] At: (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

Fig. 2. del Barbiere, D (c. 1540 to 1545) Two Flayed Men and their Skeletons [engraving] At: (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

Fig. 3. Rubens, P (c. 1600 to 1605) Anatomical Studies: A Left Forearm in Two Positions and a Right Forearm [pen and brown ink] At: (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

Fig. 4. Dine, J (1986) The Side View [etching, soft-ground etching and drypoint on paper] At: (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Fig. 5. MalteGruhl (Unknown) 196978999515 [painting] At: (Accessed on 21 August 2019)


Arcy Art. (Unknown) ‘Structure – Arcy Art Original Oil Paintings Art Dictionary’ [online] At: (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

Britannica. (Unknown) ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Italian Artist, Engineer and Scientist’ [online] At: (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

The Metropolitan Museum. (2002) ‘Anatomy in the Renaissance’ [online] At: (Accessed on 15 August 2019)