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Figure Drawing – Proportion and Propulsion

By March 16, 2016March 22nd, 2019Figures, Drawing


Drawing Proportion

Figure Drawing has always been an anchor for me. It was how I began my serious study of art when I was a Freshman at Gordon College. The human figure is the most beautiful, most complex, and most difficult subject there is. While everyone’s proportions are very nearly the same, yet every individual is unique. The human body’s proportions are so ingrained in our visual brain that even non-artists can easily say “that looks just like him” or “Not at all!”.

Female Nude Reclining with Blue, ©Michelle Arnold Paine, Walnut Ink on Paper, 2016

Combine the minute variations of individual proportions with the amazing possibilities of the human form for emotional expression (even my three-year-old can identify happy/sad/tired/excited postures), and a few hours with a live model is truly the most difficult challenge an artist can take on.

Female Nude with Legs Draped on Chair, Walnut Ink on Paper, ©Michelle Arnold Paine 2016,

Refining Perception in the Process

And so the first thing I looked for when I found out we were moving to Ohio from Massachusetts was a Figure Drawing group. Thanks to Google, I found one which has been meeting in Toledo for the last 25 years. In the chaos of moving cross-country, adjusting to two children, and finding our place in our new community, I return to drawing the figure. In the impossibility of it I find solace, because it is like going through life — I can never quite manage it all, but if I keep at it, something beautiful appears…. And when it doesn’t? (Because I do throw out drawings every week)… Even my discarded drawings live inside of me as a perception-refining experience, and so even the junk propels me towards something new I have not yet made.

Gesture Drawing, Female Nude on One Knee, ©Michelle Arnold Paine, Walnut Ink on Paper, 2016