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by Allison Heisel
Figure drawing is a basic fundamental practice for an advanced drawing class. From a high school teacher’s point of view, this can have some challenges in how we present this to our students. Ideally, we focus on the form and we look at the body as a series of lines that come together to create this expressive and weighted shape. But, nudity is not acceptable at our high school, and would be very awkward for all of us! Our student model wore a tank top so that we could still see the curve of the arms, and gave my students an authentic feel for an advanced drawing class with the figure. Our final projects were a combination of the observational and of the imaginative form.
An exploration of the work of Elizabeth Norse and Caroline Lord is a perfect opportunity to explore the human form and how it can be represented in different ways. Their work at the Cincinnati Art Museum, represents different figures standing, sitting and illustrates the flow of fabric on the human body. An example of this figure drawing is Nourse’s work, Woman with a Harp, 1887. We took time to study the figure, the fabric and variations of light for our in-class models. We took the influence of these female pioneers to stretch our assignment beyond the traditional and to use gesture and design elements to give them life.