Touch: different drawings

Drawing differences

Drawing short and long poses are radically different experiences:

Fast drawings are all focus and immediacy. There is no time for reflection, no analysis or second guesses. They are completely now, always in the perfect moment. I feel really energised after doing fast drawings, wide awake and ready for anything. Oddly I feel like I also put a lot more energy into them, as compared to long drawings.

Produced over may weeks, long drawings are intensive but they seem diluted. Or rather it is my relationship to the drawing which is diluted, by repeated re-visions, looking again each time and incorporating various subltly different versions of the pose and by the incursion of analysis and over thinking which impinges on the idea as well as the vision of the pose.

The Idea of the pose

“The living model is never the same. He is only consistent to one mental state during the moment of its duration. He is always changing. The picture which takes hours – possibly months – must not follow him. It must remain in the one chosen moment, in the attitude which was the result of the sensation of that moment.”

Robert Henri

Memory drawings are ideally suited to developing the idea of the pose because that is exactly what is remembered, not a collection of of angles of limbs but a cohesive idea, with each part related to the others. I’ve tried memory drawings from both short and longer poses. I found that the memory drawings redrawn after long poses resembled my drawing rather than the model.

Ways of looking

When I’m doing fast drawing I look mostly at the model, this might seem obvious but the point here is where I’m not looking, which is at my drawing. It’s a slighly weird sensation until you get used to it and it took me a while to calibrate my eye/hand co-ordination to make sense of what I was looking at.

This eye/hand connection is quite fundamental and is based on touch:

“We live more by touch than sight, and the average person uses his eyes more for the purpose of giving him information about the solidity and general felt shape of things, than for the purpose of observing the colour sensations on the retina. We cannot move a yard in front of us without first knowing if there is anything solid to stand upon or something hard in front of us that we might knock ourselves against.  And these are all touch ideas.”

Harold Speed

Touch Drawing

The touch drawing exercise which follows is a great way to calibrate your eye/hand co-ordination. Try it a few times and see how your perceptions progress. I first tried this at the RWA in Bristol, at a free workshop by the DRAW Group. The basic idea here is to draw a self-portrait of your face based on how it feels not how it looks, so you have to draw without looking at your face, or your drawing: use your fingers to ‘see’. Your results won’t look great to begin with but it will be interesting. Do try it a few times, as it offers some great insights into eye/ hand co-ordination.

The methodology is as follows:

  1. Fix a sheet (A2 or A3) of paper to a wall or easel.
  2. Stick a small piece of blu-tack in the middle of the paper; this will be your starting point.
  3. Place your finger on your face on the bridge of your nose between your eyes.
  4. Pick up your pencil/drawing implement.
  5. Use your finger to ‘see’ your face, drawing as you go.
  6. Don’t peek! (If you do, just shut your eyes again and return to the blu-tack point).
  7. Stop when you feel you have done, 1-2 minutes is usually plenty to begin with.
  8. You can look now!

Touch drawings

Touch drawings

You may be suprised by the likeness. Try a couple more and see how the visual feedback you get by looking at the completed drawings affects the subsequent drawings. Here are a couple of my attempts in sequential order.

I’ve spent the last year learning sight-size drawing techniques which depend almost entirely on the visual rather than tactile aspects of drawing. So I am keen to discover how those visual techniques can be related to other drawing techniques and to my broader experience and perceptions. I want to arrive at a drawing that communicates the fullest experience of the subject.