- Lesson Details
In this lesson, Steve Huston will show you how Old Masters like Michelangelo constructed their anatomy. You will learn how to apply these principles in a long pose. Steve will demonstrate on a 50-minute pose, that teaches you every process from gesture drawing, construction lines to the rendering of light and shadow. Throughout this lesson, Steve will talk about the importance of aesthetics when constructing a figure.
This lesson belongs to the course Art Anatomy for Beginners. In this 6-week course, renowned painter Steve Huston will provide you an introduction to human anatomy. You will study how he uses the perspective of aesthetics and mechanics of motion, to deconstruct the anatomy of a human figure. You will learn how to simplify the structures of the figure, in order to create compelling and effective drawings. Following the traditional approach of historic drafts persons like George Bridgman and Burne Hogarth, this course will provide you a concrete foundation of anatomy, tailored specifically for artists.
Throughout this course, you’ll have access to the NMA community for feedback and critiques to improve your work as you progress.
Transcription not available.
most famous drawing in the world.
Now when Michelangelo is working on these things, these
are - most of these drawings are fresco drawings
and a fresco is a very different animal than oil
painting. A fresco is meant to be part of the architecture of
the environment. And so it's - and the medium, the limitation of
medium itself, you're not going to get a full range of value.
You have a very limited time to render because as soon as a
plaster dries, you got to stop, there's all sorts of limitations to as all sorts of limitations to
it. As well as the expectation of a mural,
being part of it - basically replacing a wall in some
beautifully-designed church or something so the charter for
the artist is not to destroy the architecture of the
architect. So it's rather to build out of that architecture
and kind of rift off of it. So that's why oftentimes in so that's why oftentimes in
these big giant paintings or big oil paintings will be for some big oil paintings. be for
the same purpose, you'll actually have architectural
elements painted into the painting. Say you'll have a
school of Athens and you'll have arches and then you'll
have actual plasters, columns, arches, and the rest in
the architecture of the actual building and then we'll
have the stylistic illusion in the painting so that it works
together. And then generally - in general speaking, but it's
it's broken, the rule's broken sometimes, you don't want to
have great great depth in that painting or that Fresco because
then again that's going to punch a hole in our lovely
architecture and break the mechanics, the aesthetical, the
aesthetic space, and sacred space, which is mathematically
worked out to have all sorts of hidden meanings and such.
You'll find out the truth.
Okay. So what that means is we're not going to have a
dramatic light source on Michelangelo. It's going to be
a somewhat confused light. It'll either be a direct light source
that's subdued, as it is here, or it'll actually have real ambient
light which creates no real direct light and maybe even
conflicting light sources.
So keeping in mind that, now
having said all that, you can see how Michelangelo conceived
of that wrist as a two-by-four
and I've listened to lectures and been in classes where the
people say the Old Masters never did lay in so why should
And there's actually some truth to that. They won't
do construction actually in the drawing, for a few reasons. One
they constructed a little differently than we did
We're going to - we have our versions of balls, boxes, and
tubes and such and they had a bit of a different process. But
also they didn't want to show their beginning drawings
at all or even their finished drawings. They didn't consider
drawing an art form. They considered it the preliminaries for
the real art, the sculpture or the painting and fresco. That
kind of thing. So we don't get a full range of
seeing their stuff worked out. And in later times, really
after Michelangelo, drawing did become valued and partly it was
because of Michelangelo. They were - the drawings he wanted to
have thrown out so we wouldn't see his thought process were
saved and they had a massive effect and became a massive
massive teaching tool for the next generation of artists and
far beyond, including our generation here. And so it had
effect but in this particular case, we can see construction
lines. If you look over here, he decided to go with the tube for the
wrist and you can very clearly see the way he's mapped the
that that forearm,
the upper forearm there is very much the egg. He worked very
hard to show us that that was a egg, an imperfect egg but
almost a perfect egg. It's very close to the
simplest possible concept. And then you get all this stuff all
over the place that will drive you crazy if you're beginning
and then even when you're not beginning because you have
details everywhere that you feel obligated because it is a
master and masters are masterful, that we get every
single egg in there. And of course the egg was because we
have so much soft reflected light bouncing in here that
shows - separates all sorts of little structures and really
soft ambient light here. So we get lots of half tone. So it can
get very very spotty. It gets harder and harder and harder to
see our two value system, which is not the only way to do things.
I'd say this drawing here is pretty good.
But it's the simplest way to learn these things.
And then lastly the egg of course was a Christian
he's going to show that off, if it's an important idea it's a
such a show-off in many different ways
and many different - even the tip of the nose is an egg, they're
everywhere. Eyeball's an egg. So that he has a particular agenda
there, but we can see beautifully
the shoulder blade
and this is actually feels a little low.
Shoulder, shoulder blade unit.
See how low that drops there?
It's doing - as soon as we delineated it looks a little
clunky. We put it back in.
This is probably my favorite drawing in history
for all sorts of reasons, so I'm certainly not criticizing.
And it's doing a couple things. One you've got specific models
and they're going to have all sorts of quirky things happen.
You can get somebody who comes in and poses for you and this
ear's down there in that ear's up there and you can choose to
draw that or fix it. So this is going to be certain quirks.
The other thing is
the top of this is covered by all of this - What by all this?
by all of the forms here and so particularly this tone makes us
feel like it's down but the shoulder blade is actually up
And then this is a massive structure. This is actually the
the latissimus attaching there. And so the shoulder blade sits
up here. And so if we put that in based on those assumptions,
it sits about right but it's still turned, it's still
articulated an incredible amount for what it is. And the
reason for that, and the reason he did that, and or
the reason the body that he was drawing from did that is that
this arm goes around,
it raises up into a profile which is certainly going to
start turning that, that shoulder blade, but also it's
going - it's going around behind us. And so that's that pickle
The spine tracks over that and all these muscles track over that.
And then this is going this way. Now it's doing it
more than the analogy of a pickle barrel if we're going to
track perfectly would. It's going off this way, but still
tracking over, notice tracking over that barrel idea quite
it's not following the slat down but it's tracking over that way and then
that gives us a real powerful sense of that articulating
shoulder, shoulder blade unit on top of the rib cage and on top
arm and that becomes a nice powerful statement there. So it
works beautifully to show it's a working structure. You can
also see he made the hips big and
a little close for that size. If you're really going to
make the hips that big you're going to need to have them down a little
farther so we have room for the oblique a little lower.
Where this ends here that's about right for a smaller hip
structure or a smaller stomach structure.
And then the obliques sits correctly. So this is slightly correct. So this is slightly
oversized. Some of that is the
mannerist ideas maybe starting to sneak in but some of that is
just plain wrong, but it's wrong only
anatomically. It creates a greater truth. This is a symbol,
a seer of the future and of the possibilities of man who is
sitting seated down and probably probably seated
way not acting in life but simply imagining or receiving
the possibilities of life. So that became can become a useful
mistake that can speak to the concept and this was going to
be a clothed figure, it's going to be covered. So this was kind of
just hatched in and finished and maybe should have made a -
you go I'm just hatching that in. I'm really just interested in. I'm really just interested
in how this articulates because I'm going to feel that under
her costume as she see this a book of the world that
Akashic record that will tell us all the wisdoms of God for
man kind of thing. Look over here. This is a great lesson.
Look at how our Master here,
we just did the best drawing in history despite these things
and maybe even because of those things, breaks - takes that little
area and brings that and does a more careful analysis of it.
Draws a big toe three times. You see how beautifully he put
well away from the end of the toe so we can feel that front
plane and look at how he's so nicely curved
a little bit of an exaggerated curve. Now I'm exaggerating a bit
more yet, so it really has great character and
takes us back even deeper, feels like we're really rising up
there. It's almost like a
a ribbon effect.
more like this, let me
It's almost like this effect going on.
Which he was actually famous for with his
compositions. All right, so let's get out of that. That was
just the first drawing.
Now the other thing when we look at drawings, we want to -
well we don't have to know. We can take them for what they are
and we can call out Michelangelo and it doesn't
matter if we're right about that critique, but the audacity
to say that an old Master screwed something up
a little over-the-top isn't it
we learned from that what you're really saying is in
terms of aesthetics, which are you can argue at dinner parties
all the time, but what you're really saying is I would have done
that a little bit differently. And that's where you want to
be. You want to look at the old Masters or the new Masters to
learn from them and then you want to slay your heroes, you
want to get them off the pedestal. And it's kind of hard
sometimes with some of these guys, they deserve a pedestal.
But you want to see what they did wrong - and I'll put that in
quotes - that you would have done differently. Because when you do
that, then you're starting to really understand them. But
you're also knowing how you're different and you're not going
to be a slave to them. You're not going to be a second-rate
Michelangelo. Now, I have the opportunity to be a second-rate
something else instead of Michelangelo, but you get - you
have a chance now to say oh that is incredible that he did
that that way I'll take that and steal it but here I'm not gonna
steal from him, I'm going to find some other great Master to
steal from because that doesn't suit me and that's how you
create your style
almost always frankly. Sometimes people just have this
incredible vision and it is comes out of them like they're
doing automatic writing from some mystical source, can't
quite map on GPS.
But more unlikely either consciously or unconsciously
they've stolen, instead it just from one guy, they've stolen from
six guys or six men and women.
So it's important to do that. It's also important when we
look at things to -
or it can be useful let me put it this way. When we look at things
is know what it was used for. Now when we look at this, one now? When we look at this one
of the great figures, sculptures, probably the most famous
sculpture in history.
This thing is wrong, too.
Sorry to say
his head's too big. This is the artist who idealized things
more than anybody in history. He so stylized things that if some
of these sculptures got up and walked, one leg would be too
long, one leg would be too short, one hand would be too big, one's
too small. This guy is would be really out of whack and some
of his later sculptures even more so.
And you can say again he's wrong. But in this case - oops,
that's not what I wanted.
Let's see here.
What he was really trying to do is create a sculpture that
wouldn't sit down at eye level.
In the Palazzo Vecchio or wherever it's going to go so that we could
stare at it like this or even up on a little pedestal where
we could stare at it like this. It was meant to go way up high
in one of the high niches of the architecture. We're way down
here, it's going to be way up here, but when it came in,
people were so blown away by the quality of because he was a
young man at the time he did this. He was six years old when
he did this, so incredible.
He had a little baby hammer.
They said it's too good to be way up there. They brought it
down and they put it where they put it, but it was meant to be
seen from up above.
So when you look at this that head is a little big for an
And this hand as I said is bigger than that hand, this leg
is longer than that leg. Notice this is a foreshortened leg and
yet it's actually longer than that and that's because we were
gonna look up at it. And so this would be foreshortened and
instead of seeing it like this we'd see it up this way, we'd
be looking up at it.
We'd look up at it
this way and we'd see that leg coming out this way. If we
didn't make it a little extra long, it would look like
there's no thigh at all. It'd looked like the knee started
here from way up in that niche. So he mucked around with the
proportions to make sure that we got the sense. This would have
been close to us that that and when we looked up this way this
hand would look even bigger than life compared to that head
and that head would have looked about right
in comparison to that chest.
So he had a lot going on in that brain in hands.
we have tones everywhere. So this isn't a great example of
a two value system because we've got all this half tone
stuff that competes. When you do that, you're going to lose that
simple box logic and you're going to end up having more of
a corrugated roof kind of idea. But once we get down to the hips,
then he settled down and simplified and then here we get
that two value system pretty nicely set. And remember he was
a sculptor. He thought as a sculptor, so he's particularly
the mapping of the surface because that's going to be what
he deals with
as he builds that sculpture in the round is ever-changing and
what a sculptor will do is still they won't look in here and
sculpt that because that's coming right at them and they
have no sense of what it is, how much it bulges out. They'll
look on the edge and the scope this and then they'll walk around
the model and they'll have an easel with their sculpture, their
little besito which is 18 20 inches, whatever it is and they'll
roll that easel around to the left and then look at the contour
again where it rolls and get that and same on the other side.
And by rotating around again and again and again, easel around
the model they'll achieve the result. And so oftentimes
sculptors do rather flat and even like Rodin really linear
contour kind of drawings because they're just interested
in this edge, capture that, and then they do the rotation
and move on. So it's a different kind of thinking.
Again here though you can see that simple box box logic
easily worked out for this arm over here.
Simply done whereas - so this is how he started and then now he
was starting to get into the mindset now as I work this
clay, how am I going to map over these lesser forms? Are
they going to track, how I'm going to make them eggs or
Here you can see
comes down and connects right down in here, the meat of it is
up in here and here,
and then it thins out and then we have the erector muscles
here coming down, then they thin out. We have the trapezius out. We have the trapezius
getting really flamboyant design on that trapezius. Look
at these crazy
and they go up here and attach.
Right there. Really wild stuff.
So what can I do with
that does that? How can I make it my trapezius and not
somebody else's? How can I put my stamp, my signature on it?
Michelangelo do that better than anybody in history.
This is a guy named Meng.
He fought Flash Gordon and - no he Isaiah is a
wad pre neoclassic like David into Ingres and stuff.
And so it has its real romantic notion that eventually became
this real nationalist idea and it's moving away from the
And starting to make it more -
not just such a
strict canon of success. Raphael came from the Greeks in his
thinking and so there was a clear cannon of beauty. This
is beautiful. This is ugly. You do not depart. So once you get
into the more Romantic period
of art from Raphael into Baroque, Rococo, neoclassical now,
they're starting to twist life in slightly different
directions for a different aesthetic.
Here again, is that V shape, it's like the hood of the that it's like the hood of the
Now look at -
and then this is the serratus muscle, ribcage, wall of the
Wall of the stomach
as framed by the oblique. Look at these wonderful pathways.
This guy knew his anatomy.
Notice first that the Highlight tracks the shoulder blade
beautiful and subtly placed
We have the teres major, which is strapping that arm to the
shoulder blade. We have the lat, the latissimus dorsi, that
hooded muscle that gives the V shaped to the male, the
superhero muscle icon.
and we have as I said the rib cage and stuff. Now look at
these wonderful tracks. Notice the teres major comes over and
attaches right here onto the shoulder blade. There it is there
on the shoulder blade. But look at what he did. He knew that
but he didn't end it there. He kept it going here, brought it
down on the inside of the trapezius, shrugging muscle, and
into the erector muscles. So he took us instead of doing this
and just letting it in a lot of times we'll just do pinches and
we just let it in.
He took it right over to the end of the shoulder blade, went
up off that over the back, down the trapezius, and into the
erector muscles of the spine. Now, that's a lovely ride to
take and it creates a lovely shapes. And that's a very
different ride down to the base of the spine then the
or the spine itself or the erector on the other side, look at how
he's taken a step. Every time we move down to this point now,
there's a different route.
A brand-new lovely journey.
And now I'm going to do it by way of the ribs pressing
against the oblique.
And get down there again. Now. I'm going to go down the
oblique, go over there again. Now, I'm going to come off the
And look at these subtle wrapping forms.
All these things, little subtle points he's played down to
well, they're all gathering there and then they explode
back out and go in other new and exciting way.
So that's lovely thinking and look at how carefully
controlled the half tone and highlights are. They're very
They don't disturb the shadow, the little we can see of it. of the little we can see of it
And the shadow isn't all that dark but he's made the
half tones even subtler and yet we have these lovely incredibly
exciting or mesmerizingly beautiful journeys to go first
one way. There is practically an endless supply of short and
long trips we can take over and around those forms. That's
what we want. Because if somebody is going to buy this
painting or if it's going to go into a museum, they're going to
come back to that again and again and again and again. And
you better not be telling the same old story again and
again. Did I tell you the time I was - yeah Dad. How
about the - oh, yeah. I got that one too. Boy nice day. Then
you run out of things to say. That's too often in art that's
the case and it will be the case if you just copy what's up
there probably because they already know that story. So if
you can do it in slightly different way now, I bought
that thing and look at how incredibly subtle and muscular
that guy is? It reminds me of the good old days and then next
month look at how the shadows are just on the edges
and really simple and look at how the only real dark thing
is that hair. And look at that, how that little area bumps
and goes over here on this over here. And now today
I'm just going to look at all the highlights and here I'm
going to look for he kicked up in these middle dark half
tones, everything a little orange here. Look at the color
harmonies, that variations of brown that you guys can't see
on that screen. There's so many different ways to look at this
quite academic rather realistic piece of work and yet it's
designed and he's conspired to keep us busy for many years to
come with that. That's good work.
And you can do the same thing looking at a Jackson Pollock or
Diebenkorn. Any good art is going to have a lot to tell you
and a lot of - go look at a Rothko. Rothko is a giant six by eight
foot painting and he takes blue and has just the barest
gradation of middle blue to middle light and yet has
this incredible depths, there's subtle
imperfections there and you can just get sucked into that
world like you might get sucked into a dream. In fact,
there's a chapel in Houston, Texas that's just Rothko that's just
a meditation chapel. It's kind of a secular chapel and you go
there and just look at Rothkos like that. close like that.
Transcription not available.
with that arm. I'm not going to bother with the head I don't think.
We'll see how far we get.
Off this. And so it's really kind of a drapery
thing going on and swing it down here. And so I'm going to
be particularly interested in how that shoulder
unit separates. And the light is not very dramatic on that. You
know, think about the Michelangelo's Sybil for that nickel Angel Sybil for that
shoulder blade really popped out. Here we don't have some
strong light, but we can -
we can take what isn't quite to our liking and push it in the
direction we want it. So unless we're going to be the atelier
folks, the still life,l East coast still like folks, and spend Costa life folks and spend
several hours or sometimes literally several days setting
up a scene then, and even then frankly, to me that's no fun
doing that. I'd rather take things and push and pull them a
little bit. And he's going to come back and get back in
there and if I'm doing something that's ambitious
he'll do that several times, maybe over several sittings and
it'll be different every time and I'll pick the one that's the
best. Number four was the best and so I'll redraw the rib cage
or the shoulder girdle or that kind of thing.
And so really we just have kind of bean bag here with the torso
stretching on this side, pinching on this side.
And then we're losing some of the information in the cushion
that he's on.
And we can either pretend we know what's going on there and
draw through and that's a good exercise to do actually.
Or we can just let that interruption happen and be part
of the composition to show that he's in a real
Fairly flat perspective and then it's going in this way. I
want to be aware of that three-dimensional truth because
I'm going to look for in the the stuff that takes me up and
over or down and under in the way that's characteristic. So
we have a bit of an accordion action going this one as we
wrap under, tuck under that gluteal structure and then
slightly diminish into the upper structures there. In terms of
perspective you want to know what's in the picture plane,
whether it's flat to it or tipping
on its own. And then where's our eye line. So if I'm looking at
a Roman column in some ancient ruin, looking up in that, that's
perfectly vertical. But from down here
this little section of the column is going to look like
that maybe as it diminishes. So our eye line is half of the
problem. In other words I have to know the position that the
form is in in space and I have to know my position to it. So
there's two aspects to perspective. And that's what a vanishing
point is. Vanishing point is where you are in the world.
Everything vanishes to where you are, which is pretty
conceptual when you think about it, all sorts of things you can
get conceptual. The whole world now is composed around you and
if you change some how the world changes.
Manipulation I can do here on the tone. Okay, so this pulls
Now I'm going to want to show that thrust up.
How it sits on the bigger structure.
And so I'm probably not going to do a line that's too wobbly
if I want to show this is a working man. That's a working
So the intentions of context is always important.
So what I'm drawing here is the corner and since it's going
into shadow I'm gonna let that shadow - into a shadowy background,
backdrop. I'm going to let that shadow fade off, which is what
I usually do.
Now I've done the middle of the story. Here's the beginning of the
story, here's the end of the story over here.
And I can do all sorts of -
this isn't gonna be real red, but I could come in with a very
subtle tool to make sure I'm doing subtle marks or subtle
ideas. The half tone is incredibly subtle. So there's
all sorts of ways to do it and I can - remember our zigzag
technique. The more aggressively I work it
so now I've got a whole side of a stump which is rolled up
stiff paper, and I can really more carefully work.
That half tone and develop it. Probably want to save that for
a little bit. I don't want to render area by area. But at any
time I can do that and sometimes I'll go ahead and
really knock out an area quite carefully before I really done
much of the rest of it and then I'll scramble to try and make
it all fit together just for fun. Because one of the things
you find after you've done the realism for a while is it's very
very easy to become a bad copy of yourself. You'll spend a lot
of time getting kind of your niche on how you see the world,
which is a compilation of all your favorite artists and maybe
some horrible childhood trauma or something like that. And then
what started as an inspiration you ho oh I take Michelangelo and
put it with jelly beans, you get it but 20 years later now
you're copying that inspiration, you're the bad student
of your own discovery there. So you need to do something to
surprise yourself. If I'm doing something that's going to be
right every single time, it's going to be boring. And I always give
this talk so that way if I screw up it looks like I
didn't screw up.
But I don't want to know exactly how it's going to come
out because then it's no fun. And if you take risk out of it
then you're doing the same thing over and over and over again. It's
like those mall paintings. They look the same.
Okay, so now we're going to play this up in here.
And we have this great eddie to our stream of forms.
And now this is a binding up area. And that as I'm drawing
this, I'm drawing this in relationship to this. It's kind
of this swirl.
Take off here somehow.
Almost like a cloud form, a front building up, but it's
also in relationship to this. I'm trying to make sure as I
draw things - and that's why I do a very careful or slight, it
just depends. And sometimes I - like Harry Carmean used to do
that. There was his lay in and he just comes right down and draw
and old Masters same way. So you can do more or less and and
that can be for fun and profit. You can do it because you're just
that good or because you know, you have your thing you're
going to do or because you want to take a risk and see what
happens by not creating a careful roadmap.
But this is a bound up area in here.
And so I want - that's going to be a different -
a different temperament
because it's pinching the material together. And so we're
getting that kind of garden hose zigzag idea on a very
subtle level. We've churned the water as we settled into the
bathtub kind of thing. And so that should have a different
quality than these where they're taut rubber bands
tension and this whole weight, this whole drop of form, the
biggest form in the body is pulling and straining this
rather little fragile connection. What we call the
shoulder, shoulder blade unit.
Okay. Now as this - I'm gonna make this darker than it really is so we
could talk about it and because it will add to the tension of
This little area here, the rear deltoid,
is going to attach around here.
And it's going to go up here and it's going to be
affected by this big tube with this big egg here we call the
tricep. And so as the tube and egg accept this delta teardrop
shape, whatever it is, it's going to distort that shape.
And notice this is really dark half tone, and I know that
because if I cast a shadow of the pencil it cuts through that
tone so I know that's in the light.
Notice shadow is not going to crisscross shadow unless
there's a whole separate light source causing that, from one
direct light source, and across. We have pollution here, it's costs we have pollution here to
It's not going to overlap, it's not going to go through it.
They're going to come together and blend so the pencil lead
will be a string of shadow that meets the body of the shadow and
they'll completely merged together.
Notice what we have here, that's not exactly true is it
because you can see that pencil shadow goes slightly into the
core can't you? It does overlap a little bit. That's
because you have bulbs that have filaments and then they
have the glass around it and then you have that shield
around it. And so that big shield is a big fat light. The
glass is a medium light and the filament's a small light. So the
filament does most of the work and that hits most of the the
hot value here and creates a shadow, but that filament kind of
angles around that and so we do get a slight overlap because of
the multiple light sources there. But if it was one
streaming light the Sun or one spotlight that was just one
solid bulb you wouldn't have that. But anyway, this is half
tone because the shadow clearly crosses it, the value clearly
crosses it. But if it's - if it pinched over a little bit more, it would
be shadow, so it's very close to shadow. So I can just make it
a dark a half tone, kind of middle value say because that's what
we see as opposed to the darker shadow or I can get rid of it
so it doesn't get spotty.
If I do this everywhere that was the Michelangelo thing.
They got a little spotty there. It was beautifully spotty but
it's not giving me that dramatic chiaroscuro and so I
can get rid of it completely, I could make it much more subtle
as I kind of doing here, or I can make it darker as a shadow.
And since I'm trying to play up the tension of this area
because it's supporting all the way to the body, that's my
conception here, I'm going to push it stronger than it really
And remember I'm influenced by abstract expressionism or
throwing all their emotion onto the canvas and comic books
which are bigger than life and garish and Hollywood
Blockbuster kind of thing. They're not subtle. And I'm
dealing often times with the subject matter that's not
subtle. So my bias is going to be towards melodramatic, over
kind of thing. And so your aesthetic if your
Ingres would be very different.
Now notice what I'm doing, I'm doing half tones here and all
the half tones I've been working on
have attached to the shadow, that's the safest way
to do a shadow. That keeps it from getting spotty. If I do my
nice form here with my nice shadow here
and I start doing this, it gets spotty. So the safest thing to
do is only attach - only use half tone when it attaches to
your shadow, then it's just going to refine that corner
instead of that it will be that or that.
And don't get that other stuff mucked up there.
But if you do introduce it, introduce it slowly and
carefully or not at all. And then you can ease into a more
Now because these are organic forms - I'm going to push this a
little stronger. That's a half tone again, but
I made it a slightly darker accent.
And I'm gonna do an accent here. Now I can make an accent where the
shadow begins and where it ends because of the reflected light.
That's the core shadow, the cast shadow and it speaks to the
idea that nature works in two light sources, the direct light
which affects this and then by the nature of the form this
turns away from that direct light source and it
catches none of the light and we call that shadow and then the
nature of the form pushes out again, again catches the light for a while then again catch of life for a while
drops off catches none. And on we go. Those are the stair
steps of forms that went through half tone we can round off but
as that light strikes this, strikes this and everything else here
and it can hit the edge of that gray surface or whatever, bounce
light back into it, and then we get a secondary light source,
the reflected indirect light source up in here and it
lightens that. And so we tend to on average in generalities
have a core of darkness where no direct light hits and very
little reflected light hits and it gets a little darker and
it's a core.
And then the base of it, because it's again something's very
very light, it looks very very dark, again we get a little accent again. We get a little accent
and that's more realistic and that's an easy way to give a
sense of the shadows as these breathing rendering things
rather than just dead void without doing much work. But
what it also does is by accenting
here or there,
it gives the feeling that we don't just
mosey along but these are imperfect forms that speed up,
fall down, speed up again.
And by giving an accent you're in effect creating a corner,
maybe a round corner, but it's a corner. If I do it here and just
do one and not two, it creates in effect a little dimple or a
little crater there and it makes it - it speeds up that line,
it varies it, it makes it organic and what I call
anchors the form. Notice down here or if I just do tone it feels
ghostly, doesn't feel like it's really attaching onto a surface
that an ant can crawl over. But as soon as I anchor it with a
slightly darker mark or two,
now it's going to feel like it tracks a little bit better.
And it will - and it's kind of an angry mark too, it pinches and
can make the muscle seem more muscular, the definition
more defined, and it's more athletic, more
superhero-ish, or more aggressive as I anchor it.
And it can add to the
story that we're telling here. in here.
Now I could push this, notice there's a good example of what
I was bugging Joshua about over here. The half tone's very dark
over here and that's because it's turning away, bumping down
this way into the spine and coming back and it's catching a lot
of light but it's faced it a very obtuse angle to us. So it
can't bounce very much light to us and so we see it as a dark
gradation. As it turns away from us it can bounce less and
less light to us, even though it's probably roughly the same
value from our light source coming this way. It also looks
darker. And that half tone I can anchor not into shadow,
although I can put a shadow in here but into the edge of an
arm bring it around
and pull it right back down into all this stuff.
All right, so -
and all I'm doing is I'm
blending that in as it settles that line so it's not quite as
sharp. It kind of settles in, lightens up into the
surrounding tones and becomes a little less stylistic. It's not
realistic as it should be no line, but it does - it quiets it
a little bit. I won't always do that, but I'll usually do it in
make sure I'm not
being too bold too quick in an area that I don't want to be
bold and loud.
Okay, so at this point in a drawing or a painting I'm
trying to get to know the shapes. And in a painting if
I can erase back and forth and I got the time, I'll play with
the subtlety of these shapes forever. I'll keep going
back and forth and I'll add a bunch of shapes and I'll take most
to them out and I'll move that over a little bit. But right
now we're starting to get kind of triangles here. So I'm going
to come up into here and maybe even make some triangles.
You know just kind of play with that idea a little better
and see what happens. And I want to see the half tone I'm using,
not so much to round the form because that's easy and I can
decide to do more or less of that at any time. It's using
the half tone to track and create secondary gesture. So
notice this half tone didn't do - long ago it rounded Google long ago. It rounded
that form a little bit. Once it gets way up here becomes a
secondary structure and a secondary gesture. So now instead
of going up and down the form here, I'm going up and in and
that takes me in through this lovely new possibility of
roller coasters that are
so much fun.
just for fun I'll say -I'll actually save it for later in case sexy save it for later in case
I decide to do something else here, but I'll tell you now. See
how dark those half tones are? Now they're attached to the
spine so they have a structure and we can argue that this is
turning because it's actually shadow or almost shadow. This
isn't, this is doing that. So it's quite a bit darker
than it should be for the nice silhouette. Ideally if we
wanted to get the cleanest, clearest view of this
we'd have a two value system and the lights stay light and the
shadows say dark and they don't compete and then there's a
softening as we round that but we don't have much in the way
it tones in here to affect, just subtle. And then when you squint
you get that beautiful two value statement and pow it's a big
poster image. So in my paintings, I'll do that and
then I'll let it dry, I'll glaze with white over it and ghost
that back so I get that nice stair step of form,
this whole thing,
and everything else. But it will be in this ghostly area. So I
get the best of both worlds. I can really get my lumpy
bumpy stair step, steps of heroic muscles, but I'm not
destroying the two value system like the Michelangelo did.
cage to hang.
So do I want to really push it down? Do I want to keep - and then
have it really break away from the waist? Well, that'd be a
little crazy but at least the idea of that, how far could I go
before it loses the realism that really is what I love.
I like things that are real. So don't want to go too far off. Or
do I make it - do I a subsume it right into that big long tube,
so we don't have any rib cage at all like Ingres might do. Like - I
meant to show it but I never did - Jupiter and Thetis which is a
very famous painting by Ingres.
Has Thetis who's the god of the - river goddess, and she's a
nymph really and she's the
Achilles who's about to be killed in the Trojan War and she's
trying to say no, no, no please save him and this watery
creature is -
is I forget what the legs are doing but is pleading with the god of
the universe, the master of the universe, and he's a big
triangle, immovable, not going anywhere. And she's this watery
idea. So for Thetis we wouldn't want a rib cage that
breaks away. We would want it to be watery, we play that down.
So but we're not doing Thetis here. So I'm going to
play that up a little stronger than it really was.
And now we feel the weight of that. Remember is gravity
defeating or is gravity - or are you fighting off gravity? So
here gravity's taken hold and starting to defeat that form.
And let these - notice how tight this was.
Now this is starting to melt, and
got to relax and give in.
Why fight it anymore? And so those are story - it's like
butter melting, ice dripping on a hot day. It's starting to
drip away. So that's kind of playing up maybe that idea and
then later I might go that's cool idea. And then
20 minutes later I go ah that's terribly then I'll change it.
And that's fun to kind of create these
scenarios with it because the shapes become metaphors for
those. So you're going to - I do anyway - create a story line for
these things in a way. Kind of a once upon a time and create
this whole mythology
that may be provided for you. But try and give a reason for the
body doing what it's doing. Nobody's going to get that idea
out of this but they'll feel that maybe the actual
physical gravity and weight of it that kind of stuff but
they're not going to get the emotional story line you've
created and they shouldn't, that's your problem. That's
your baggage, that's the reason you did the work. Now be
gracious enough and humble enough to know that it's no
longer your piece once you hang it up now or put it on the
internet. Now it's their piece and they will decide what it
means as they should. And if you show it and 3,000 people
say wow, look at how that's melting and he's giving up in
life, you in some sense failed, because your art's so locked in
that idea there was apparently no other interpretation for it.
And that are probably won't live, you know, it's the
equivalent of your mom saying boy, that looks so real. You know
when they want to compliment you they always say that. But
the problem any realist has, even this realistic where you've
use things like line that don't really exist, that problem
you have is the object. I am drawing some character and if
it's a portrait it's very specific character. And so how
do you get past the object, art - any of the arts are heart any of the Archer
absolutely - are actually abstractions of the world. They're
ideas about the world. When you deal with abstraction, abstract
expressionism for example, you don't have the problem of
realism because there's no bones about it. There's nothing like
that out there. This is something very different, I
wonder what it is. And then you start thinking about the
message a little bit more or the emotion behind it. Abstract
expressionism was really to say let's get away from the dogma
and the snobbery of art where you had to have a PhD to
understand what it was when you looked at something, you have to
know the art history and the context and Michelangelo
meant to put it up there and that Florence was a and it's orange was a
city-state that was a young adolescent city-state in its own
right all a kind of gobbly gook, you can't really appreciate he can't really appreciate
wine unless you know the oaky smells, all that kind of
nonsense that art speak what it did is it pushed away the
public so that the abstract expressionists to some degree,
to the stated intention, was to make something that was
completely accessible. We will put raw emotion down and you don't
need to have any art training to feel that emotion.
I feel rage when I look at that painting because it's just
raging colors there or something like that, it didn't work at
all. What happened was - or didn't work like they thought.
What happened was the art critics, art historian, jumped on
that and said, well, here's why you should like drip paintings
because nobody liked drip paintings, they'll say well monkey
can do drip paintings and there's a whole bunch of movies our there where much a movies out. There were
monkeys were doing drip paintings to make fun of it. And
so they said no, no, no, it's really great art and here's
why and then they got right back in the same problem. It's
always the inspiration versus the bureaucracy that
builds up around it. Churches have that problem, art
movements have that problem. We have that problem in our own
lives. You know, what started out - I started out loving art now,
I'm 40 years later doing work for people I don't respect and
having to do ads for cigarettes that kill people and I am a
miserable guy, I hate art. You know we always have that problem of
what was originally a passionate inspirational thing
loses its oomph, loses the inspiration, and becomes a a
problem that doesn't care about what it was originally designed
So when you do realism in some way you've got to break past the
object so that it becomes a symbol and not an object. Art
will be alive if it becomes symbolic of something. Art will
not be alive if it doesn't. So if I can come up with something
or this, if it's done right in the right context and present
it in the right way becomes a simple symbol for something
massively bigger, important, and much more important and it can
live for many decades, centuries, whatever. And so when
we look at the really great stuff like Rembrandt is a
metaphor for his religion. It was not - it was ugly people with
beautiful light. Let's be honest about it. And it's because
the world is an ugly ugly place just ask Jerome Witkin. It's a
trash heap and we're five foot worms that are going to rot in
hell and die. Or I guess die and rot in hell. And so what's the
point unless you happen to be saved by God and then you get
to go up to heaven and pretty damn good walking on clouds up
there. So that was that mysterious light off camera.
They came down and made those ugly people beautiful. So we
should all be so lucky. So anyway, if in some way we can
imbue in our work that kind of meaning,
then - and I didn't ask Rembrandt about that. That's my surmise.
But and you'll come up with a different surmise maybe or you'll
say yeah sounds pretty good to me. But look at this guy over
here. And then it lives and that's - we get that
movement in little ways. I was talking to Joshua about like stronger. Joshua about like a
comic books and Norman Rockwell, the art historians, art Well, the art historians are
critics hated that stuff. It was child, it was drawing superheros,
silly superheroes for children, and it was some schmuck, some
wasp who was trying to tell us America was okay, when we
all know America has problems. And so what's up with that and
it was realistic. it tried - it was was all about objects and stuff.
And so it's thrown away but 20, 30 years later all the sudden it's nostalgia. It
was a slice of Americana at that time and how interesting
to look back and think about those savages, those normal savages
back then. And so time gave it some credibility.
So these are deep deep currents we're working with.
It's just gesture and structure. It's just a few solids sitting in
space and yet it can say so much without ever saying a word.
and it will especially say a lot if we can learn our craft
and think about the world and then shut up and get out of the
way and let it do what it's going to do. In other words let
the audience tell us what it means.
So look at those half tones.
And now look at proportionally, I've got a big chunk
and a medium chunk and a little chunk and then another big
then bumps into little chunks, but they're even thinner. So
it's not consistent like the picket fence or the telephone
poles, but in general these things are getting smaller and
smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller and that's that
pickle barrel idea's going to wrap around and go away. So I'm
going to gather this stuff up tight over here.
Version of the same idea or Titian would put a little puppy
dog here looking back in and the Venus character would you'd -
you'd find the legs going off the canvas, little
puppy would look back in, tamed
animal and energies, tame sexuality looks back in, and you
come right around and look again. And it's a way of holding
you in here.
Okay, so there's an interesting little bump there. That's the
inside of the
medius let's say.
And it's just a little mark. And I can anchor that by getting a
little darker accent and it'll pinch and dimple. It's like a little
dimple when you smile. It pulls you in tighter and goes and it
feels organic, but I want to make sure it goes someplace.
Goes back up into here.
And it can go all sorts of places. We don't see it do this, but I
know goes over there.
I can use some of my hard-fought
anatomical information from this weekend
and then it can come down here.
I wish this was darker, I just can't make it darker. So I'm
going to make -
instead of making - I just can't make it lighter. Instead of
making it lighter maybe I'll make everything else darker
over it and so I'll hatch over it or I'll
really load up
the pigment here
and make the half tone around it a lot or a little darker and
that'll take it back.
And then shoot I'm running out of time. I got to hurry and
sometimes because of some deadlines you cannot do a
nude. It's my favorite subject, but that was the assignment,
forced to do clothing. But now I can find maybe new inventive
ways to feel the nude structure underneath the clothing. Or I
couldn't render this out as carefully as I did here. I just
don't have time. But you know, I kind of like this kind of
painterly line, it's almost like a Pascin would do or a
Bouillard might do and so bringing in a little bit modern
touches. You know, one of the guys who was a big inspiration
to me early - whoops with an I- Jim Dine, who's a real card carrying modern
artist, but he did a series of charcoal drawings that
academically weren't particularly good but what he
did, they were real honest and it was for him to say,
which I appreciated to the New York that yeah, the figure is
absolutely in bounds. Because everyone was saying, oh you can't do the figure. say no you can't do the figure
Back when I got out of school or the year before, New York
officially told all artists that the figure was dead. You aren't
allowed - that was a clue that if you're going to show in New York
don't come in the gallery door with figurative art. Nobody's
gonna show it. So Jim Dine turned right around as any good artist
would do, as an iconoclast, and say well now you're the
establishment so I'm going to figurative art. And everybody
said oh it's Jim Dine. That's great, the figure's alive again.
So but what he did is he took his drawings and they're really a
lot of struggle in them. That's one things I like about
Whistler over Sargent is Whistler wasn't near the Whistler wasn't near the
technical talent that Sargent was but there's something very
honest and in some ways more honest about Whistler because he kind
of struggled and had an - but also with a clear vision and so
something very cool about that. So Dine would do these drawings dying would do these drawings
that were out of whack and not great but they were honest and
clean, expressive, and he was a real artist even
though he was doing something I didn't want to do even with the figure
but he knew aesthetics and knew visual metaphors and all that
kind of stuff and what one of the things he'd do is he'd get
something like that, a pretty crude gradation, and he'd come in
with sandpaper and he'd sand it to a highlight because - so
it wasn't very well done in terms of lovely, beautiful, and
zigzag gradations like we've been talking about but it was -
he kind of injured the figure. And then - and got to the - what
the world wanted to be a highlight, a lit area. He did
that rather than just gently like a polite
gentleman removing a little bit of information so it looked
like a highlight, he damaged it to get that and I thought that
was kind of cool that you could actually injure the work
to get the - abuse the work to get the statement and
that was one of the things that
led me into the boxers is they were really beautiful,
romantic, even religious light on these scar face characters
with no heads and they were doing something horribly brutal.
They're beating the hell out of each other, which is what we do
to ourselves as artists anyway. So made a lot of sense in
a lot of ways.
And one of the problems when you go to any kind of how to
system, no matter how perfectly designed like my system is,
it - yeah what -
and it's having things ring true. One of the problems when
you teach and when you have a curricula, it's a
process. It's a step-by-step.
Okay, if you do this, find the gesture line, now find the two
dimensional structure than the three-dimensional structure
then get two sides of the form get the shape of the shadow on
the form, get the value. Take a rest and keep going again. When
you do that, you're telling a lie to your students
because what you're saying is your job is to do one thing at
a time. Your job is to focus on the parts and get each step,
each part of the process, correct, and that's not your
job at all of course. As an artist your job is to create a
Your job is to take all of the messy stuff in life and not
make it messy, make it one thing. And so your job is not
to carefully step by step paint
three apples and a peach. Your job is to paint one still life.
Your job is not to get 12 characters in the story, but to
tell one tale and not to have a bunch of steps to
make it one dance, one song. And so our job - and it's why it's so
hard and it's why gesture is the fundamental design line and
the most important thing and by far the most difficult thing, we
need two or three lifetimes really to get hold of it, is
because the gesture is the path for making all-in-one
figurative composition, not 614 muscles or whatever the number
is. And that is a incredibly difficult thing and rationally
it's impossible to do because there are a lot of marks and a
lot of muscles and stuff, but emotionally you can make it all
come together. And you get those fortunate arrangements
that we call a composition. The gesture is trying, and you the gesture is trying that you
can define all sorts of ways, but as we've done it here, it's
just - it's try and get all the little things to group into a
bigger thing to make all of the stuff, all of the hairs into one
flowing lock, all of the characters in the story. Think
about music. So I can go bang away on the piano but I'm
not a great musician and you're not going to want to listen to
it. It's not a song because the relationship what is it? It's
always just one note at a time or one chord at a time and yet
if you do it well, in some magical way it becomes a melody,
it becomes this flow of stuff. And that, those many things
become one. Look at Pontormo and then look at Michelangelo.
Michelangelo I complained about his half tones because it was fresco
work and it lost some of that volume. Look at Pontormo and
he's a mannerist, which is the style Michelangelo started, and
he's even more flat and it gets much more gestural. And
then you can look at a modern artist, Egon Schiele
and the torture gestures or some of Rodin's work or some of the
other modern work and you'll just see pin lines that are all
wobbly squiggles. But I was going to say before, you know, you may
not believe in Harry Potter as being the one, the chosen one,
or that kind of thing. But that's what marriage is
supposed to be. A marriage doesn't work or companionship
doesn't work if the two people aren't one in some sense. We
are joined forever and what do you put on? You put on something
that is symbolic of one thing that is never ending
and never beginning, it has a - it's eternal. And so when you
get into a marriage or a relationship, whether it's
teachers and students or husbands and wives or whatever
it is, partners in business, if it becomes about you too much
you destroy that unity and you divorce, you break apart. It's
not going to work. If you can sacrifice and take a little bit
of abuse and say well if it was just me I'd do it differently,
but for the relationship it's a good thing. And the fact is when
I did quit being so butthead and do it her way or do it the
way of the marriage, I learned something, you know? So that's - and
that's a love story, a love story or look at genres in
in writing. We have detective stories. We have action films.
We have love stories, lots of genres. All those are are
philosophies of life. How to live good life or a successful
life or not get shot in life at least. In the action it says
you never walk away. I don't care if there's six bazookas
out there and you have a little peashooter you stand up and
face the music and do the right thing and defy death. And in a
detective story you say no matter how corrupt the world
is I'm gonna find the truth. I might be a little corrupt too
like a Philip Marlowe, but I'm not so That I'm going to hide
the truth. So Chinatown or something. And you cannot be
happy. Your life will be ruined if you aren't willing to go
after the truth no matter what. That's the life philosophy of a
detective story. If you love detective stories, partly it's
because you buy into that philosophy. Love story says that
you are not complete and the universe is not happy if you
don't find that one other person that completes you. You
are not complete, that's that Jerry Maguire famous kind of silly
quote but it's the summation of that whole genre is you
complete me. That's the whole point of every love story is
unless they're going to spin the genre. So we are always
looking for a way to live through this difficult journey
that we go on. We are separated at birth and we never really
connect with anything and yet, you know if you look at it
rationally but emotionally we can find deep powerful
connections and emotionally we can find ways to get through
that rationally you should just throw up your hands about maybe.
So that's what art's doing for us is trying to not just copy
an object, it's trying to decipher the world and give you a road
map on how to get through this messy maze. And every
once in a while
when it works well the world opens right up and it seems
pretty darn easy and you just get to where you're going
without a traffic jam and you get that bonus and you find
that - do the best drawing you've ever done. Then other times no
matter what you do you're just butting your head, you can't find in your head you can't find
that path. And so gesture is a great metaphor for that.
And if the art isn't a metaphor in some way for those kind of
life struggles, it won't survive. You'll get a course saying
boy that's sure pretty but that's just entertainment and there's nothing
wrong with entertainment God knows. We all need
entertainment. We just sit back and watch zombie movies. I've
discovered that my 85 year old mother watches The Walking Dead.
She sits and watches zombie movies all day
but she just needs a break after 85 years. There's nothing
wrong with that. But if we're gonna help them a little more
than that, then there's got to be more fuel in the tank than
just that sure looks pretty. But if I have to take that sure
looks pretty, I'll take it. That's cool. If you really
think it's beautiful. But if it says something else to you
and it says it in a way you can't even find words,
that's the best and maybe it won't say it for them, but it's
saying it to you or you wouldn't be doing this because
that's hard stuff and as you're finding in these three
days it's exhausting stuff. But anyway, that's what
we're dealing with. So give yourself a break. It's a lot of
stuff. Even if you don't add in the fufu philosophy on it, it's
a lot of stuff. But when you try and make it
change the world, make the world a better place, it's
overwhelmingly powerful and possibly intimidating. So go
slow and know that almost everything we've said you intuit
anyway. It's why you came to art, it's why you came to this class.
If I say something that makes sense, it's why it makes sense, it's
making a connection. The place in your life, that the the place in your life that
little place about getting a form to turn was disconnected
and now you've got a little connection that makes life a
little better just on that level and then if you're gonna do
more than that, hallelujah.
Start working on your own work or look at your old
work and see now how can I bring in some of that
anatomical truth and make it aesthetically pleasing, fit into
my own style or help me find my style or how could I go back
and look at my favorite artists and see maybe some of this
anatomical stuff is why I like them. Maybe they're - they do
things very correct in terms of anatomy, or maybe they muck up,
muck around with it a little bit like Michelangelo or
change it completely like a Picasso. So what we want to do
is know why we like what we like and why we don't like what
we don't like. And so all these things, learning laws of light,
learning structure, gesture, anatomy, color theory, all that
stuff, gives us more filters to see the world through, to build
our world view of art out of, and to make sure that we're
making real progress in our own work. And the - once again the
advantage of this, I love this so much, is this was a lot of
information. There's no way you can absorb all that. So you
come back for the next year and again and again and again look
at it. And I was talking to one young lady earlier and I'm
interested in writing in the last few years just for fun
and what I'll do - and I did this when I was doing drawing or
any of the visual arts. The writing and I'll take a class and
I'll have a recording of it, it'll be a digital class very similar
thing but just audio and I will listen to that 30 or 40
times and go over it again and again and if they recommend
a book, I'll read it five or six times and then go back and
listen to class again. So that I really - that material is
immersed in down in to my bones and it becomes not just
something I can kind of talk about confidently, but it's
muscle memory. It's within me. So if I try and work in that
art form, make that drawn mark or write that
non-fiction book or that character, whatever it is, it
has a better chance of ringing true. So anyway, thank you so
much for being here. So thank you so much for joining all of
us here, and we'll see you next time.
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4. Long Pose Part I23m 34s
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