SchoolArts Magazine

January 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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16 SchoolArts one of the most challenging concepts I assign my advanced seniors. Working in pairs, students pho - tograph each other in foreshortened positions. Students work from these photographs to draw and paint a F igure drawing is one of my favorite units to teach—I look forward to it every year. Not only is it a crucial part of an artist's education, but exploring the ways the representation of the human figure has evolved over time is truly intriguing. Artists from vari - ous cultures and time peri- ods throughout history have depicted the human figure in many diverse ways, as well as with their choice of media and surfaces. No matter what, however, the human figure is always a challenging and com - plex subject. I begin this unit by explain - ing the historical approaches to and evolution of figure drawing. I discuss figurative works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelan - gelo, and Pierre-Paul Prud'hon. I also share a handout showing da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, which leads to a conversation about pro - portion, scale, and measurement. Terms such as chiaroscuro and contrapposto are defined and put into context. Line, Shape, and Form My figure-drawing demonstration starts off by breaking the figure into basic shapes, then refining the drawing by observing the positive and negative shapes created by the figure. This leads to the discussion of terms such as implied line, cross- hatching, contour line, and gesture drawing. It is important to show stu - dents how line thickness and value can create weight and form within a space. I like to selectively darken and/ or thicken a linen to represent a por - tion of the body closest to the viewer. Conversely, using lighter, thinner lines helps portray the receding form. Foreshortening Defined After a couple of weeks of figure drawing with students, I wrap up the unit with a lesson in foreshortening, or shortening a figure's length. This is Justin Hayden foreshortened self-portrait. I remind students that while they are draw - ing their figures, they must look for some sort of orderly relationship and rhythm in the placement of the fig - ure's body parts. It is also critical that

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