Assignment Four: 1. Line and shape


Felicity (A2) pencil and ink wash

Brief: Pose your model on a hard chair (dining or office)… take particular note of the proportions of the figure, describing details such as the the hands and facial features, and find ways of describing the folds of the clothes with line rather than tone.

This was a difficult picture to draw. I struggled with the proportions, even after my practice sketches. I had to redraw the face several times also the hand on the knee and the feet, which were originally too small. It is challenging to draw with line alone and I resorted to adding an ink wash to parts to give the picture a bit of a lift which has helped I feel.

What works?
My drawing has a sort of Pop Art feel which I quite like. After trial and error the proportions and shapes are just about correct. I’m reasonably pleased with the hands as these are always a challenge for me. Overall, I feel the picture fits the brief as I have, on the whole, described Felicity with shape and line alone. The body and proportions are reasonably accurate and the pose looks natural.

What doesn’t work so well?
I feel this is a slightly characterless picture. I haven’t captured the personality of my niece very well. There is a resemblance to Felicity but the facial features are not exactly right; I have made her look older and not quite her vivacious self.  I felt really disadvantaged by not being able to use tone (although I did use some around the neck and on reflection I wish I hadn’t).

The feet may still be a little small, despite my having enlarged them. But then again my niece does have lovely dainty hands and feet!

The perspective (vanishing point) on the tiles is a little out in some places. I should have slowed down and not been in such a hurry to finish this piece.


Quick sketches exploring different poses


Felicity in the garden reading a magazine


Felicity in the garden reading . This ‘straight on’ pose I felt was the least interesting of my four initial sketches











Initially, Felicity posed for me outside sitting on a garden chair, while reading a magazine. I thought the left-hand pose had some potential but was concerned that the chair which has complicated criss-cross legs would take up all my energy and I wanted to focus on the figure. Natural light was coming from the front.


Felicity at kitchen table with cup of coffee


Felicity at kitchen table smoking a cigarette










Then I asked Felicity to sit at our kitchen table. I felt this would make a more successful picture with the furniture contributing but not overtaking the image. We tried hand around a coffee cup, and then smoking a cigarette. The cigarette gave Felicity something to do (her Gran would not approve and must never see this picture!) while I was sketching her, and I felt the upward lift of the arm gave an overall more interesting shape to the pose. Natural light was coming from the left from an open door.

Exploring detail

felicity-face-detail felicity-hands-detail









I really should have practised Felicity’s face more as this sketch isn’t quite right as the eyes are too close together and the cheeks too chubby. I was fairly pleased at the my sketch of the hands although I later discovered that getting the proportions correct in relation to the overall body is another challenge altogether.

Adding some colour

I felt that the very simple use of line and shape alone were not providing enough visual interest so I took a photo of my pencil sketch and then printed it out and experimented with adding colour using a limited palette of very dilute ink. I decided to go this approach, and applied the ink in a fairly flat way so as to avoid creating tone. These are the various stages from black and white to colour:


Pencil drawing



Adding an ink wash to the figure.


Adding an ink wash to the floor. This I feel helped to ‘ground’ the picture and provide balance.



















Lessons learnt
Check your proportions and then check and check the again and don’t always believe what your eyes are telling you.

If I’m going to include things such as floor  tiles where there are distinct perspective lines I should practice them first and be prepared to take time to get them right.

Doing preliminary sketches of the features I feel are going to challenging (e.g. hands) helps enormously. So much better to make the mistakes before the final picture.


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