Seeing Things

 I was invited to do a short workshop on figure drawing this week.  One of the artists at the session commented on how their hand doesn’t obey their brain – if only the hand followed instructions from the brain, their drawings would have been so good.  He was right, provided the brain saw clearly and gave specific instructions to the hand.  One of the reasons drawings don’t turn out the way we want them to is that the brain does not  issue clear instructions. And that’s because the brain doesn’t have the tools to understand and interpret what it is seeing.  So, how to make our mind see human figure clearly?


The human body is visually very complex (to the say least). There are many shapes, volumes, planes and structures.  The only way we can train our mind to see the human figure clearly is to train it to see the figure in simple volumes first – spheres, boxes, tubes, bowls etc.,  I have an example below.  This charcoal life drawing was done at a sketch session at the Art Students League, New York.  It was a seven or eight minute pose –  we had seven or eight minutes left for the end of the drawing session before we had to vacate the room.  I did an overlay drawing using the software Clip Studio. The overlay drawing is made of simple volumes: sphere, lines, tubes, bowl, etc., My suggestion to artists who are learning figure drawing is to train your mind to see the model in these simple volumes. The mind can then do a far better job of giving clearer instructions to the hand.