Introduction This book seeks to shed light on the principles exemplified in the drawings of the Old Masters. Much of the information it contains is the result of a long, meaningful collaboration with my teacher, Michael Aviano. We share a deep passion for classical drawings, particularly those created during the Renaissance, the Baroque period and the eighteenth century. Drawings from these periods seem larger than life, as though nature were pushed to a higher degree. The artists who drew them were adept at creating three-dimensional form with both line and value.
In this book, we’ll focus on the power of line and how it can be used to create the third dimension. Learning how to deconstruct and then reconstruct the figure from life (or from the imagination) can empower you to travel in whichever direction your creativity takes you. To achieve this facility requires practice, but you must practice in the right way. You must have a process you believe in. If your process is good, your results will be good.
Since 2008, I’ve written a series of articles about the fundamentals of figure drawing for American Artist’s Drawing magazine. This book is based, in large part, on those articles. I’ve added step-by-step demonstrations and additional drawings to fortify the written text because I want to show as well as tell. In many cases, I added diagrams to illustrations that reveal my thought process during a work in progress.
We’ll begin with a chapter on the materials and methods of classical drawing, which was inspired by a drawing treatise, Méthode Pour Apprendre le Dessein, written by Charles-Antoine Jombert in 1740. Next, we’ll progress to contour, proportions and how to measure, before tackling the challenge of foreshortening. We’ll also cover the head and its features, as well as the hands and feet.
Finally, we’ll explore short-pose figure drawing. In my view, it is important to learn the principles of figure drawing and to develop drawing skills in longer studies before challenging yourself with short poses. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Learn diligence before speedy execution.” Whether emphasizing line, value or both, the more techniques you have in your arsenal, the more you can exercise your imagination—your most valuable asset of all.