Updated: Apr 20, 2020
I’ve been doing a lot of figure drawing recently. I haven’t had the time to hire a model or go to a place to do any in person figure drawing, but there’s a lot of awesome resources online to just find poses and sketch away. Figure drawing as a study tool is a marvelous release from the everyday stress of art making and I find the periods where I drift more heavily to it are immensely calm compared to my usual work making; a relaxing and releasing escape without totally abandoning creativity.
That release without abandoning creativity, especially through figure drawing, is what I wanted to talk about today. The ability to turn the mind off, study form, create and learn is one of the most valuable assets an artist can have, in my opinion. The human form is a remarkable study tool, artistic subject, and work of art in and of itself and I think a lot of modern art forgets that. We often forget to take the time to reinforce how much of a tool our own bodies and the forms of other humans are. It was a criminally under-represented aspect of the teaching in my time in school and it hurt to see, because I think it damages artists’ foundations. Artists who can learn and teach from the body, not even make finished work from it, but just learn form, shadow, technique, and so much more are ultimately the most technically proficient.
I get the pleasure of talking to so many amazing artists doing what I do and I often feel so inspired after an interview and I just want to get to creating my own work. Most recently, we got to visit Brian Booth Craig in his studio (content coming, I know I keep bringing it up) and I was so blown away, so inspired but I got to my own space and just nothing was coming to me. I was so frustrated because all I wanted to do was create but I couldn’t get into the right head-space and that’s when the subject of Brian’s works really started to resonate with me. I thought back to my own experiences working with the human form and I was reminded of how soothing the experiences of working with the subject were. “Why don’t I just turn my ever-so-crazy brain off and draw some form, learn from the body and work on my own craft?” I pondered and so far it’s been such a relaxing and rewarding experience. Touching up that ever so important craft that we often forget to revisit! Sometimes we’ve got to go back to the basics and learn new things.
This is just a quick article, not even an article, but basically just a reminder that these tools are here and we should use them! Revisit the basics, and figure drawing is one of the most fun basics that we can ever use. As I mentioned there’s a bunch of resources online that you can just use at home, don’t get out of touch with simplicity. You’d be amazed how much it helps your creative process and ability, even if you don’t do anything like figurative work! I’m a big purist on the basics and the foundation of art and creativity, I know, but this is a tool all artists should not only use, but want to use and have fun with!
There's a bunch of places you can find great references online and there's a few other sites like just like these, but these are the 2 reference sites that I use most frequently. You can personalize what you're looking for, amount of time you look at each image, or you can just cycle through their library. Both are great sites and I encourage you to try them out if in person figure drawing isn't easily accessible for you.