“Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters” by Robert Beverly Hale

Art students drawing from a nude figure is such a cliché. But why is this necessary? And, for those who were brought up with a conventional, modest upbringing, why does the figures have to be nude?

Once you can draw the human figure, you can draw anything. Any other object or subject will pale in comparison to the complexity of drawing the human form. Once this skill is mastered, then the artist is capable of saying whatever he or she chooses to express with lines or shading.

In this day and age, the importance of mastering drawing skills seems to have been forgotten. Focus seems to have shifted to the importance of the creation process. Don’t get me wrong, there is huge value in learning to pour paint which is a technique in itself that teaches about how colours react to each other.  But it has always fascinated me when I run into artists who claim they can’t draw.

According to “Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters” written by Robert Beverly Hale, understanding artistic anatomy is what separates us from the artists of history.

In the day of Leonardo Da Vinci, the process of becoming an artist would include not only drawing from the live nude figure but also studying cadavers.

These artists had thorough knowledge of the skeletal system. They understood that in order to draw flesh they needed to understand what is supporting the flesh.

In addition, these artists had a thorough knowledge of the ligaments and muscle groups.

With this anatomical knowledge in hand, artists were capable of drawing figures from their imagination without relying on the actual presence of a live figure to copy.

They could also depict with realism whatever they wanted because of their foundational drawing skills and knowledge of artist anatomy.

Hale points out in his book, this was how Ruben’s could capture his figures falling from heaven or active battle scenes.

So then, the question I have is… where do I get myself a set of bones?