Assignment 4, reclining figure

For this part of the assignment I’ve had Morandi in mind because of his absolute use of tone to separate elements of his pictures. No lines, just tone-based demarcations and shadings that suggest volume and shape.

I decided to work at the size of the task – A1 – rather than experiment on a smaller scale because I know from experience now that what works in S doesn’t always work at XL and that even if it does I’m not that good at up-scaling it. I prepped the support with gesso to make textural resistances to my medium of choice, soft pastel, which blends superbly and works well with putty rubber for reduction and exposure of the under-drawing – or in this case textural gesso.

Again, rather than impose on friends to model, I’ve used myself, taking several photos in a large mirror to get a sense of different arm, head and body positions. I’m also grateful for my artistic licence which allowed me to remove, guilt-free, the phone on which the photos were taken.






This is a very limited palette comprising mostly flesh tone, a very dark green, black, and white. There are all sorts of small areas that I like about it, mostly where the blending has indicated form as in the face and arms, and the effect of dabbing, pulling, and swiping with the putty rubber on the texture and directionality of the marks. I’m less happy with some of the actual shapes: legs really too short, arms somewhat misaligned, and the inevitable fudged hands. The cat, of course, is perfect.

9th September and I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to make this work. eventually I gave up on it and painted it over with black gesso as black backgrounds have been working well for me recently.

Remembering this is an exercise in tone rather than line, I used conte and soft pastel along with a putty rubber to work some of the colour into the gesso surface. In a sense it’s almost reductive in that the background defines the shape so I’m rather hoping that qualifies as figure drawing in this context.


Update. Yesterday a fellow student, looking at this on Facebook, misidentified a cat as an arm, and an arm as a substantial amount of chest, so today I have tried to fix those things as I could no longer see anything but the wrong arm and the unfettered breast. I may also have found a leg but lost some neck.


I think this is better although so much still seems unconvincing. I doubt, though, that I can do any more without there being more costs than benefits. Something to come back to maybe.


I have decided to go with this on the grounds that I am well beyond the prescribed two hours. Which is not to say I feel any of that has been wasted, as Ryuichi Sakamoto, the composer, is reported to have said, every mistake is a gift and there are many here I wouldn’t want to waste by hiding from myself.



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