The other morning, my daughter noticed our bow standing in the corner. So she asked me to help her string it so she could try her hand at archery. Well, we were almost running late for church, so I almost said no, but since she had never asked to shoot the bow & arrow before, I didn’t want to discourage her interest. But since we were getting ready for church, I didn’t take the time to give her a proper archery lesson. I just showed her how to hold the bow, load the arrows and release the string.
I did, however, keep an eye on her from the window… for safety’s sake. I didn’t want her shooting the neighbor’s dog or anything. But as I watched, I saw how our future lesson would go. She had no proper stance. Her weight wasn’t centered. Her shoulders were rarely squared.
During church, I did a few little sketches. (It helps me listen if I draw). Later I realized these doodles would be a good lesson in posing. Notice how, in the first three stances, she is unbalanced. If you are an athlete, you will know that when you perform an action like this, your whole body needs to be engaged in focusing your energy. If you are throwing a ball, it’s not just your arm, but your shoulder rotation, your torso twist, the balance of your opposing arm and leg, everything must work in sequence and in harmony to create the perfect throw.
Abby’s stance wasted a lot of energy, which cost her accuracy and distance. But as a drawing, my poses would be unconvincing to my audience. Often when we draw (or pose a 3D model) we can get caught up in individual details of parts and not see the whole. We try and create and interesting thing for the left hand to be doing, when in fact, all it has to do is support the action of the entire body. We can get all caught up in making sure that the anatomy is correct, but the energy is all wrong. The fourth pose, of course, is the one I was trying to show her how she should stand.
Here are some drawings by some friends and one by me (the combat soldier). They are from a gesture drawing class I conducted. Beside each drawing I added my thoughts on how to make the pose stronger. Although the original poses are accurate, they are not dynamic and energy is lost. By “dynamic”, I don’t mean that every pose need to look like Spiderman. A person at rest can still have a dynamic flow to the pose. Remember Michelangelo’s Adam from the Sistine Chapel ceiling?
In this drawing by Tom, I felt that even though all the anatomy is quite accurate, the mood was gone. I didn't feel the despair from the drawing. Tom is a great artist, so I picked on his weakest drawing of the day. Perhaps the model wasn't a good actor, and Tom was only drawing what he saw. That's when we need to push the pose into what makes a better drawing. His hand holding his head has some very well drawn fingers, but I didn't feel the weight of his head being held there. We can't write an excuse at the bottom of each sketch "well, that's how the model was standing!" Your audience just knows that the drawing doesn't affect them.
This one is mine.. The original sketch was decent, but I realized that it needed to be more tense, like a fox ready to spring into action. So I should have put more of his weight on his front foot, rather than on the back one.
The next two are by Dennis Bredow. Again, they are anatomically accurate, but lacking in dynamic. Just some small changes really make these poses sing. They both have well drawn legs and arms, but they are missing an over all energy.
Looking back at my Dream chronicle, I realize that I need to listen to my own advice more.