Monthly Archives: September 2011

Dynamic Figures

It’s been quite a long process but I’m now getting quite comfortable with drawing figures in dynamic poses.  In this approach we’re concerned with identifying what’s happening to the  the upper chest and the pelvic region and then placing them accurately on the page.  Everything else hinges on these 2 features. A huge benefit of this approach is the speed with which it’s possible to draw figures.  Something like this golf pose would have taken me a long time to work out the proportion and the direction of the parts of the body.  This drawing actually took considerably less time and is I feel much more accurate in terms of capturing motion.

The other image is the soccer star, Ronaldo.  I’m not concerned with the exact details of the face but rather with the balance of the body.  This pose seems quite simple but actually there are a few challenges.  In particular his chest is a little hunched forward which gives it a different perspective to his abs.

Dynamic Figures In Colour

This image shows the direction I hope to take my dynamic figure drawing, ie to draw figures to be painted.  I’m combining this with my interpretations of Don Andrews approach to figure work.  He uses colour to paint right over the lines of the drawing and then coming in to tease out the figure as the painting progresses.  Unfortunately, in this case I did the initial wash way too dark and the figure never recovered.  However, it did seem to have a certain feel to it.  So I did what I always do with a watercolour that goes too dark, namely, bring in the gouache to add lights over the darks.  This image is so different for me that I enjoy it even though it is not a successful painting . . . yet.  It does inspire me to do lots more of this type of picture.

Same Image New Lesson

I know I’ve posted this image in the previous post but this version does illustrate an interesting feature of watercolour.  This is the demo I did in class last night.  It was fine but it lacked something that the previous version had. The sky in particular was not nearly as interesting.  I had recommended to the students  if they wanted to change things in their skys they could do it by totally rewetting the  sky and floating in new colours.  This morning I thought I would try the same thing on my demo.  This is the image after that reworking of the sky.  What’s very interesting is that the painting is now much more dramatic and interesting but I have lost some of the luminance of the first wash of the sky.  There is in watercolour something magical about that first wash.  It can be luminous, exciting and fresh and everytime we rewet it and rework it we lose some of that luminance.  We only get one chance to do a first wash.  But as in this case the overall painting can be made better by this reworking but it comes at a  cost.  As an watercolourist it’s good to know that you have options and the consequences of each options.

Using Darks Video Clip

This is the image I created in the latest video clip I did for my Friday night watercolour class.  I’m very happy with the boldness of the colour.  It has a consistent mood and I’m pretty happy with the composition.  The one change I would make is to raise the top level of the hedge so that it isn’t a tangent with the horizon.

The full clip will be available at the video clips link.

Dynamic Figure Drawing

In this class we are learning to look at the figure as two primary shapes: the chest and the pelvis.  By having symbols for these 2 regions we are able to create a figure more easily. And these symbols can then be manipulated in perspective.  That’s a long winded to say that once you really come to understand what the chest and pelvis look like from various angles you can fairly easily create truly dynamic figures.

In this study it’s very instructive to look at the shape of a head from behind at this angle.  It’s not something we see very often.

Dynamic Figure Drawing

I’m thrilled by the effect that teaching my Dynamic Figure Drawing class has had on my drawing of the figure.  One aspect of drawing dynamic figures that is a little different is the skill of taking  the proportion and detail of a portrait and translating it down to a small head on a dynamic figure.  I’m finding that an approach that uses shading with some suggested detail seems to work quite well.  These are 4 little studies that show the face from different angles.  To see a short video on how to draw these little heads click right here.

Using Darks

This is an image that I’m auditioning for my watercolour class as a study of dark values. It’s a nice continuation of our last class on value.  I’ve been watching a lot of Don Andrews, an American watercolourist.  His work is characterized by a very wet, very bold use of colour and in particular his figurative work is extremely evocative.  Anyway, in this painting I was inspired by him to get a very dark value on the house and foreground in the first wash.  It is about 4 different mixes of dark paint and then letting them play around with each other a bit.

Also I was thrilled to get a comment on my video clips.

Carol said,

Thanks Rex. I’ve spent the evening watching several of your videos and found them to be excellent. I especially like having the ability to see you mix and apply the paints. You are a very good teacher and I hope I can implement what I’ve learned.

Was I ever pleased to receive that comment!


These are two studies I did for my watercolour class.  They are done using a  monochromatic colour scheme.  When you can’t change colour in order to move the eye around the painting the only thing you can do is play with value.  By creating a pleasing arrangement of lights and darks we create a pleasing journey for the viewers eye.   In these paintings I chose a blue violet colour and I chose cad orange as my complementary colour.  I use a little bit of the complement to neutralize the primary colour but I try not to let any of the complementary colour show in the painting.   There is just a little hint of the orange in the foreground of the bottom painting.  I did two versions of this image  to show the effect of different value patterns.  Each of these paintings does have a different impact on the viewer.  There are, of course, many other possibilities and one isn’t better than the other.  The main point is that the artist needs to decide on this pattern of values or ‘centre of interest’ before they actually do the painting.

These images are the ones I created in my latest instructional video clip.  It will be available very shortly.

Cactus Demo

This Saturday the instructors at the Calgary School Of Art did demos for the customers at Cactus Art Supplies.  I did this painting.   Actually, I got about half of it done and to say it did nothing for me would be an understatement. I decided that nothing I did with it when I got home could possibly hurt it so as an artist once said, “If a watercolour doesn’t work out then turn it into a night scene.” I did and now I think it’s cool.

Since I’ve been working on triads in my watercolour class I decided to do the same for this painting with a dominance of blue-violet.