Shapes OK, but the finish?

Charcoal figure drawing - Helen Davison

‘Seated Figure’. Charcoal

Another recent life drawing. This was a great pose with some interesting lines flowing through the legs and feet, and there was also a nice balance of light and shade. I got the general shapes and proportions in quite quickly, but I really don’t like the overworked finish that I ended up with however.

Admittedly, this is a poor photo and doesn’t really show the handling that is visible in the drawing and some of the subtler passages of mark-making. I can’t get away from the fact that this drawing does contain areas where the shading is too smooth and there is something of a stilted Academic aesthetic that just isn’t what I’m trying to achieve. I want charcoal lines and hatching, lost edges and energetic contours. I want a suggestion of things and a sense of life and contained movement. An artist that I have recently discovered is Hollis Dunlap. I absolutely love his compositions, figures in interior spaces, his paint handling and (of course) his drawing. You can browse all of these kinds of work on his website, but as this is a post about figure drawing, here is a link to that page of his in particular.

His work is the perfect example of everything I strive for in my head, but that comes out overworked in my hands. There’s always the next project to keep on trying to loosen up and find that dynamism. He makes it look effortless, but it is anything but.