Classical Figure Drawing Workshop at LARA



From the 26 – 30.05.14 I spent a week on the classical figure drawing workshop at the London Atelier of Representational Art or LARA for short. This most enjoyable week involved six hours drawing a day that added up to a 30 hour pose drawing.

The tutor Travis Seymour was excellent. Very helpful with a vast knowledge of, and talent for classical drawing.

The model Sebastian also surpassed expectation and his physic was perfect for putting into practise the anatomy I have been learning about.

I have documented the experience with a series of photos taken at the end of each day . The photos are pretty grainy and discoloured.

The paper we worked on was white from the Canson Mi-Teintes range. The size of the paper is close to A2 (I think its imperial measurements).

The drawing is made using HB and 2B pencil. These pencils are sharpened with knifes to allow a few inches of lead to show. This enables the pencils to be held at a close angel to the paper. The points must be kept super sharp to work into the grain of the paper.


Day one, six hours drawing.

The tutor urged use to try to get the out line gesture of the pose in only 14 lines. He suggested working in staight lines to stat with, a process called squaring off. This dose seem to lead to a better looking drawing from the off. The curbs can be added later.

I begain with the 1/8 approach. Marking the top and bottom, then half way, then quarter marks, then top 8th. The chin is marked a little below this. Then use the head as measure. This will give the 7 1/2 head canon. My drawing has ended a little longer as this looked right.

I have learnt that with more classical training a person is taught to measure using only the ‘site size’ technique. This means no head measurements but to try to draw the model/object at the same size you observe it (so the further away the small it will appear and thus the smaller your drawing will be.) The 7 1/2 heads cannon I adhere to has its place when constructing a figure from the imagination. At this stage I do find it helpful to get the proportions correct in life class.

After shifting the outline here and there in till passable there was just enough time to add some of the interior land marks such as  muscle and bone outlines where visible and certain features. That took us to the close of day one.


Day two, twelve hours drawing.

Day two started with fresh eyes and some needed corrections in the stance. The next phase was to split the drawing into two values of light and dark. This was quite tricky as there is of course a vast tonal range in life. The tutor pointed out It was good to bare in mind the light fall as this would describe the shape of the form. So areas of darker colour where ignored and only shadow darks where recorded at this stage. We kept these shadow areas as flat shapes for now in the same tone. We where also reminded to square off the edges to simplify a little.


Day three, 18 hours drawing.

On day three the shading begain. I got of to  shaky start erasing and restarting several times. I’m pleased to say I’m starting to get the hang of it now, although I would benefit from much more practise. The method taught involves building up the tone in light strokes with a very, very sharp pencil. In this way you mould, or turn, the form. Smoothness is key to the illusion of form. both with a smooth increases and decries in vale from light to dark and over all smoothness of drawing with the aim being no individual drawn lines should show. The tutor pointed out the importance of starting the pencil strokes from the shadow side as where the pencil first makes contact with the paper the mark is darker.

We where encouraged to draw in only small sections at a time. We could organise our time in tune with the models brakes. Giving a few hours to the arm say before moving on.

One of the most crucial things I learned was to turn the large shapes first, then work inwards. This is obvious with painting and is the way I work in that medium. But with drawing I have ignored this principle and have never been happy whit the results I have achieved. I am sure with further practise I will see improvements baring what I have learnt here in mind.

The small forms must be put in still with the large form in mind for fear of losing the over all illusion of space for the detail which is noticed secondarily by the viewer. In fact I notice in the tutors own drawing that the figure appears slightly air brushed. Smoothing out the small maybe insignificant detail to insure the over all effect of form is exemplary. This is not to say he would not return to the area to add detail if time was not an obstacle, this I don’t know. Also every artist must find their own unique way of expressing what they see. What is important to the individual artist will speak loudest form their work. But at this learning stage (do we ever stop learning) I can see the results of following the tuition to the letter produces a more successful interoperation of form.



Day four, 24 hours drawing.

Day four was more of the same. I worked up to the face which is always fun and had a crack at getting the tattoo in. Interesting discovery – The first attempt at the tattoo left the drawn arm appear to have strange lumps coming through its surface. This is because I draw in the tattoo regardless of the form of the arm . Remember –  the large form must always be thought of first. Also I had attempted to copy the shading that appears on the models tattoo. this of course gave the illusion of lumps under the skin.

So, the rules of tattoos –

  • Be aware of the shape of the form they are on. In this case a cylinder. Use the correct distortion to show curvature away from nearest part of cylinder. In this case draw the tattoo along a half spear line.
  • Remember the shading of the form the tattoo sits on apply the same value changes to tattoo.
  • Best to flatten tone on the skin ink so as not to appear like lumps and bumps.

As I mentioned before smoothness in the drawing is key. The slight tooth of the paper had to be worked into with a very sharp point. The trick here was to apply just the right pressure to match the surrounding vale. To hard ment picking the offending dot off with the putty rubber and reapplying. Towards the finishing stages of an area such light layers are built up that you can not notice them close up. But stand back and its amazing the difference they make.

I found increasing and deceasing the vale of a muscle or shape can make it recede and advance. So over the course of this drawing the image seemed to ripple and bubble with lumps and bumps coming and going in an effort to reproduce what I saw. It’s like magic to draw in this way. I love it!



Day five, 30 hours drawing.

To finish of the drawing the edges are to be made as crisp as possible by filling in all the tiny white gaps along the edge. To help with the depiction of form the vale should remain the same. If it gets darker an out line will appear. This crisp line is most important where shapes overlap. on this case the folded arms. This line will help to distinguish the stat and finish of the two arms and help the front arm come forwards.

In conjunction to all this hard work with the pencils a twice a day hour long commute on the tube ment I have made some good progress with the book ‘Practise and Science of Drawing’ Harold Speed. This text has gone hand in hand with the practical work at taught on the work shop. When I complete the book I intend to review it on the blog.



About Emma Perring

Artist, oil painter


  1. Incredible level of detail.

  2. Fab work Emma – it mush have been an intense week I can see you got so much out of it – that drawing is just beautiful 🙂

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