Even though I wasn’t looking for a book on charcoal drawing, there it was on Amazon, and I had to have it. Henry Yan’s Figure Drawing Techniques and Tips.
Every page a visual delight of etherial draftsmanship. His figures have a poetic quality, airy yet solid, rendered with anatomical precision.
Now, five years later I was thrilled to have the opportunity to study with him for a week at the Scottsdale Artists School.Above, Henry demonstrates basic structures of figure drawing.
Every morning began with half an hour of quick gesture sketches from models, than we were off and running on a long pose. Each day had a special focus, for instance on the first day we were concerned with finding an accurate edge around the figure to build on. Using different line weights as well as overlapping we mapped where muscles and forms moved forward and backward in space to show the perspective of the figure.
This was Henry’s quick drawings on the second day illustrating how line, soft and hard can show form. I just loved the energy in these sketches so I bought this page from his sketch book.
We worked up to his method of using a charcoal pencil rendering light lines to get the outer edges and inner shadow shapes on cotton drawing paper. Using a vine charcoal we blocked in the shadows very dark as well as the shadow side of the background.
Using a soft chamois swiping the loose charcoal inward toward the figure, following the forms. From there it was a matter of getting more information in the darks as well as lights, than finishing with eraser highlights.
It was a wonderful week of seeing new ways to use tools I had been familiar with for decades. The next day I attended open studio to put some of these concepts into practice. I still need to get a lighter touch, and more time, that clock always runs out too soon!