Exercise: Tonal figure study

This is an exercise in conveying form by exploring tonal values. For this exercise, I am volunteering my husband as a model…:-) I will pose him reading a book.

I sat him in the window seat as there is a strong, natural light coming through. I found it hard initially to draw his shape as cylinders, but then I sort of got the idea.


That was enough for that session, for him anyway. Today I chose the position and managed to capture the tones. It is tricky as the light is strong coming through the window and almost from behind, but I think it could make for some dramatic tones. I have also prepared a canvas with a mid yellow/brown ground.pencil-tones

I drew this today in my A3 sketchpad using charcoal to scale it up but now I need to get painting. I think the best plan will be to draw it out with paint onto the ground, then get my model back and in position so I can paint in the tonal aspects ‘live’. charcoal-r

I have been painting today and marked out the shapes but just lightly and started painting, working from my sketches and a photo,(which did not come out well due to the back lighting through the windows), but I feel that I really need to get him back in position so I can paint ‘live’. I could put together a painting as it is but I have realised in order to learn from this exercise I need to paint from life. So …tomorrow.

I was watching a film last night and there was a shot that was in a study and it was all browns, yellows and soft orangey-reds, and I thought yes, that’s the colours that dominate what I am working on.

It was difficult to get him to sit back in the same position, and he kept dropping his head down and moving…but I did manage to get an hour’s painting done. I think maybe the legs are too long but it could be that I need to make them a little bigger (although he does have long, skinny legs) The skin tones on the face are difficult, I see so many colours there and of course the shadow and contrast from the light through the windows is strong. This is it so far, I hope to continue tomorrow. image1-53

One thing  forgot to say is that  have been finding brush hairs stuck into the ground..it has not been possible to pick them off so  have had to work round them,  will use a different brush next time!

So  have been painting today for 2 hours. I am having trouble with the light on the red wall, if you lay down white then it goes pink so  have tried a patchy effect. I also re-did the face as I wasn’t happy with it.  I have made the legs a little wider, which works better. I have also worked on the jumper again,I am still not finished and unsure how long I am meant to spend on each exercise but I will continue this when I can. I have been working from photos today.second

I have spent another afternoon on this, about 2+ hours. I redid the face  – again, and the hands, but I am happier with it now. I DO think it actually looks like him. I may have been drawn into too much detail as I felt compelled to fill the canvas block so I have added the wood burner and the tiles. I will look again tomorrow with fresh eyes to decide if it is enough or not.I think the colours work well together so I am pleased with that side of it.

I realise this exercise was about skin tones really, but I am off to the UK next week and will attend a life drawing group whilst there, so will be able to get some sketches to work from and so could potentially re-do this exercise if necessary.

Next day. I have finished, I think. I redid the red walls, as I was not happy about how I had described the light on them. I painted over the white and so it was brighter, I then added a little white over the top when it was dry and I am more satisfied with this now. r-reading


Author: Wendy Kate

Happily sharing my life in Spain with a tall bearded man from Dorset.

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