Monday, July 07, 2008

Drawing what's not there

Life Class 3rd July - first pose
12" x 16", pencil on Daler heavyweight paper 135lb
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I've spent this morning notifying people about and replacing what's not there - namely the number plates on my car. Finding out what you need to do if your number plates are stolen is not easy - but it gets worse as you find out just how many people you do then need to inform and contact!

Having to deal with what's not there reminded me about the life drawing class I went to on Thursday night - and the fact that life drawing is often about drawing what's not there - the negative shape.

Negative shapes are often seen as the void or the emptiness between and around the positive shapes of an object - or, as in the case of a life drawing, between the position of limbs and between the body and its context.

Personally, I find eye-ball measuring so much easier if you try to draw the 'void' - the space inbetween - rather than the object.

Interestingly the Japanese have a very high regard for this negative space and even give it a special name - 'ma'. The notion is that it is the emptiness which provides the essence of the whole. The empty volume enveloped by a jug is what makes it a jug and gives it purpose.

People draw life models in different ways - with many people drawing the contour and then developing modelling to get the form. Personally I prefer to try and relate the body to the whole and the context as much as I can.

Life Class 3rd July - long pose
12" x 16", pencil on Daler heavyweight paper 135lb
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The drawings are a short one which I did at the beginning and the long one at the end. I'm not enamoured with drawing men lying down - they're too flat!


  1. How frustrating, having to organise new number plates. I would be enraged. How long did it take you to notice they were missing?

    I take my hat off to you, Katherine being able to turn your negative experience into thoughts of drawing negative space.

    I like your complaint about drawing men reclining - they are too flat!

  2. I didn't! Himself spotted it - 5 minutes before I was dishing up dinner last night.

    Do you have any idea how many organisations you have to tell?!!!!!

    Mind you - I now have number plates with a nice European logo and GB plate on - for driving in Europe! ;)

    Plus it means I know they are different from the previous set for all those CCTV cameras which will doubtless be photographing my first set driving off without paying for fuel, breaking the speed limit, entering the congestion zone without payment, parking in the wrong place etc etc etc.

  3. I thought, at first read, that you said the men were too "fat"!

    Anyway, I like the way the long pose work is done. You didn't dither, but put together a more finished drawing while keeping your neg. space.

  4. We've had the tag thing happen to us too. We also suspect someone's been stealing gas out of my van, and now have to see about getting a lock for the tank :-(

    Beautiful lines in your life drawings, and lovely pencil shading

  5. I would never have noticed mine missing, that's why I asked. ;)

    When my favourite car was stolen and stripped by someone and burned out (by someone else), I received a fine for crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge without paying the toll!

  6. Wow, we never get reclining poses. I'm jealous!

    Nice sketch! You have really anchored the figure.

  7. Wow these pieces are very quiet and reflective. It's simplistic and bare. The mind wonders what the figure is thinking and doing. There's a lot of mystery in these paintings. Beautiful works.


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