Art, process and design blog of an aspiring industrial designer.

Posts tagged ‘watercolor’

Figure Sculpture

If you are trying to improve your drawing, one really great way to do so is to try your hand at figure drawing and figure sculpture.  I am doing both right now, and they are helping IMMENSELY!

A lot of people ask me what life drawing has to do with Industrial Design, and what I always say is: If you can draw the body, the most complex, dynamic thing ever, you can draw virtually anything.

In my life drawing class we learn different techniques of drawing and life drawing every class.  For example, we’ve done classes where we only draw by edges (contour), by volumes and masses, by scale and alignment, by gesture, by shadow and light, by 3-dimensionality, etc…  All of the ‘greats’ did figure drawing as well, and its really interesting to see their charcoal work and how their approaches were similar or different from their famous works.

Example 1: Georges Seurat

Seurat is very famous for his use of pointillism and  this painting, which you might recognize:
“A Sunday On La Grande Jatte”, 1884. here.

In these drawings he likely used soft charcoal on very rough paper. Although he doesn’t actually do pointillism here, his rough paper makes it appear as though he’s using a sort of pointillism.


Also, you can see how he uses light and shadow very effectively to create 3-dimensionality, but I would guess that he is not as concerned with realism or accuracy in his life drawings. This actually makes perfect sense with the rest of the image (the background, a prop) not being fixed in space, and being fairly undefined and unstable.. It is more of a question and a allegory to the background, than an actual drawing of the background itself, just like the details of the face are more general indications, with an emphasis of how the figure is formed out of the background.
Boy with hat here // Nude model here // Cat here // Crying woman reading here

-> Note: If you are lucky enough to find an entire book on the sketches or drawings of such-and-such artist, they are usually going to better than anything you find on the internet.  If you need some inspiration or guidance and don’t have anyone to ask, refer to these books in a library or in the library of a nearby art school… It really helps you improve when you know you have a long way to go to get to their level.

Example 2: Auguste Rodin


“The Thinker”, found here.

Rodin is most famous for his figure sculpture work, including the very famous “The Thinker”, but here we can see his relation to figure drawing.

As opposed to Seurat, Rodin was much more focused on edges and contour.  Almost all of his figure drawings are based on a thin wire-like edge around his figures, with cross-hatching shading applied on top.  This gives a clearer, more detailed image, but a more 2-dimensional effect.
Man curled on floor here // Minerva with watercolors here // woman and man here // seated female life drawing here

Seriously, applying these different techniques will really help your drawings.  Try them out on people on the bus or at a coffee shop, and you’ll see how much they actually help you see differently.

Art: Maira Kalman. And Meritocracy.

Maira Kalman is really cool, and really really honest.

Here is some of her work. She is also earnest, I thought of another word.


She is a writer and illustrator.

This is my favorite series she did. It was a ‘column’ she did for the New York Times online.

I watched this video

and she made me think of meritocracy, which is this thing that totally exists right now. In me and I think in our society. Meritocracy is the belief that everything you get is what you deserve. You work really hard, you get really good rewards. Your success is in direct relation with the amount of work you put in. (NOTE: I did not say ‘the amount you want it.’ Not the same thing.) And I hate that I think I mostly totally believe that.

But this idea is kind of this tragic thing, because of course, there are so many unknown factors. There are so many things which we cannot account for. Luck or fate or destiny or chance exists. It is a thing. Fatigue, health, nepotism, time and place exist. Even if you work really, really hard, meritocracy is not totally true. You could fail and still put in more effort that the person who wins. And I think it is this tragic belief, because we still are so hard on ourselves. When we fail, even when we deserve to succeed, I know that often I think to myself, that I just didn’t work hard enough. That I need to work harder next time. I think you and I and everyone must sometimes take a moment to realize that sometimes, maybe we actually did deserve it and did work hard enough.

Acknowledge that; take a moment to feel that and believe that. And maybe use the factor of luck or randomness. Maybe put ourselves in some situations where we give ourselves more chances and more opportunities. Use that push from meritocracy to make us work harder, but also realize reality, relax the chastise. Relax it.

Try to be a bit kinder. But that doesn’t mean work less. Keep pushing.

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