Dave Dibble Teaches Us The Benefits of Figure Drawing

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Figure Drawing, or Life Drawing, as it's often called, is the process of drawing the human figure in a studio environment. In some academic environments this begins with drawing from sculptures or casts of the figure, and over time leads to drawing from a live model, both costumed, semi-clothed and un-draped (nude).

Life drawing is widely accepted as the foundation for fine art training, and, since the human body represents the most complex of creations, learning to draw it is seen as one of the most difficult artistic challenges that can be faced.  Anyone who has tried to draw the human body before will acknowledge that it is not something conquered quickly.  In fact, many artists see figure drawing as a life-long endeavor with endless possibility for improvement, learning, and variety. It is not something to be 'learned' once and then discarded. 

Blue Sky acknowledges the foundational importance of figure drawing and provides an open-drawing session weekly for the artists and employees of the studio.  Regardless of their position, studio members come and improve their drawing skills, even if they've never drawn from the human figure before.  Some of the immeasurable benefits of figure drawing include:

Learning to see.  We often think we know the things around us, but rarely do we look and study them. Consequently, we only ever understand a superficial stereotype that we repeat over and over.  Drawing the human figure forces you to really see relationships, measurements, proportions, etc, and not just guess. 

Seeing more deeply. Just as clothing hangs on a body because of what's underneath, skin often betrays the muscles, which in turn rely on a skeleton for their structure.  Seeing all of these systems together and interrelated helps one understand other layered structures as well.

Editing & Simplification.  There is no way to ever draw everything you see, so you're forced to edit and make decisions of how you will artistically translate a complex form into a more basic one. What you leave out is often just as important as what you put in.

Simplification & Reconstruction. Figure drawing also trains you to start with basic shapes and to then gradually get more detailed and complex as you go. It is a tangible expression of how to approach any complex task. It starts with really seeing the core priorities and breaking down the form/task into simpler blocks and then building on that gradually to achieve the final form/goal.

Patience & diligence. A drawing doesn't happen all at once. It is literally built line upon line.  But it also won't draw itself.  A model isn't a static thing, and poses vary in length.   Whether it's a two-minute gesture drawing or a two-hour pose, training yourself to accomplish a task in a given time frame is vital. 

Reverence. Regardless of one’s views on the source of creation, it is nearly impossible to draw the figure and not feel increased awe and respect for the incredible complexity and beauty of the human body, as well as a deepened appreciation for the humanity that we all share.

When it comes to materials for figure drawing, they often vary according to the artist.  Some use a large drawing board with oversized paper and draw using charcoal or pastel, while others prefer a smaller sketchbook and pencils. Computer-drawing tablets are also common. For longer poses, oil paint, watercolor, or sculpture are great options.

Figure drawing is just another example of how Blue Sky aims to strengthen and diversify artist’s and employee’s talents! Have you or would you give figure drawing a try? Let us know on Facebook!

By Dave Dibble, Color Key Artist  at Blue Sky Studios