Sunday, August 23, 2009

Learning To Draw Pt.1

If anyone out there has an interest in art, here are a few things that will help guide you in the right direction. Before reaching for the pencil/pen/magic marker, realize that you can teach yourself how to draw. I will focus today on the human body, and there is no one better to get us started than George B. Bridgman.

George B. Bridgman (1865-1943)
taught at the Art Student's League in NYC for over 45 years. His legacy, aside from being a great teacher, were his series of books on human anatomy.

Bridgman used cubes and squares as his foundation and starting point in drawing the human figure, even for the human head, whereas other artists used spheres. This is evident in his book "Heads, Features and Faces"-

Included are over 200 drawings plus examples from masters such as Vermeer, Rembrandt and others. The written text enables a student to gain proper perspective and guidance. Bridgman shares his ideas on perspective, planes, and anatomy as they relate to portrait drawing.

"The Book of a Hundred Hands"
-the story goes that while at the Art Student's League Bridgman carried human bones from the hand and wrist around in his pocket, meticulously studying them wherever he went. He even kept an actual severed human hand in a jar of glycerin until it deteriorated and had to be buried in his back yard by his gardener.

One hundred illustrations plus instructional text covering all aspects of the human hand, from the back of the hand and palm, nails, bones, tendons, muscles, the arch, veins, and more.

Next up is "Bridgman's Life Drawing". Over 500 illustrations and text to teach the student to abstract the body into its' major masses. Describes the factors involved in sketching the human form in various positions.

"Constructive Anatomy" provides the student with almost 500 drawings depicting bone and muscle structure and human features. This book covers lessons in drawing human forms.
This invaluable anatomical reference shows important parts of the human body, both in motion and in repose: hand, wrist, fingers, forearm, neck, thigh, leg, and more. Drawings of bone and muscle structure are also covered in detail.

Last but certainly not least is Bridgmans' "The Human Machine". Here the human figure is broken down into it's dynamic moving parts, sketched like separate parts of one unified whole.

This should cover you for the time being. A few points to consider-there is no substitute for discipline. Even with minimal innate artistic talent, you can definitely improve your technique by focusing on the teachings of George Bridgman.

My suggestion would be to go through each book and see with which one you want to start. Whatever you do, begin each book on the first page, don't skip around and complete every assignment regardless of how tedious it may seem at the time.

You can purchase all the books at once (highly recommended for the sake of having them on hand whenever you need them-they are relatively inexpensive given the wealth of material they cover) and you should cover lessons from different books for variety. You will see improvement in your technique guaranteed.

In my next installment I will cover some of the basic materials you will need to get started.

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