DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt


Reclining, Not Boring

Body Helix (Beu), 2010, by Fred Hatt

Some artists denigrate the reclining pose as the choice of the lazy model getting paid to nap.  But reclining poses can embody tension or emotion rather than just relaxation, and the open-minded artist will revel in the chance to see parts of the body foreshortened and juxtaposed in unusual and even complex ways they would never see in a vertically composed pose.  This post is a collection of my recent reclining pose sketches, twenty-minute or ten-minute poses, mostly from the Saturday morning life drawing sessions at Figureworks Gallery in Brooklyn.

The above sketch is as far as possible from the familiar gently-curved sideways reclining nude painted by many artists from Giorgione to Modigliani.  Note particularly the twisted torso, showing both front and back of the body, the balanced angled supports of left arm and leg, and the lower leg folded up the wall.

The posing area at Figureworks is in an archway between two rooms, with artists drawing from both rooms.  Models are not posing in the round, but to two sides, with a sort of frame providing supports for leaning.  The model in the drawing below raised his left leg with his foot up on the wall of the arch:

Dreams (Saeed), 2010, by Fred Hatt

Here are some other uses of the wall as a leg support.  Here the body is held in a state of tension between the hands pressing against the floor and the foot pressing against the wall:

Angle Tension (Theresa), 2010, by Fred Hatt

This pose conveys an unusual bold power in the contrast between the closed upper limbs and the open lower limbs propped against the wall:

Arms Crossed Legs Open (Beu), 2010, by Fred Hatt

Another pose by the same model, also using the wall as a support for the legs:

Right Angle (Beu), 2010, by Fred Hatt

Reclining poses can provide interesting challenges in foreshortening.  I try to see the body as though it were a landscape, with the shapes as hills and mountains arranged at different distances.

Hands Clasped Behind (Jiri), 2010, by Fred Hatt

The face is a particular challenge when seen from an angle at which the features are not in standard frontal relationship.  Studying faces from these unusual perspectives can give you a much stronger sense of their three-dimensional structure.

Lying Back (Danielle), 2009, by Fred Hatt

Ribcage (Jiri), 2009, by Fred Hatt

I often approach the foreshortened forms of the body using cross-contours and studying light that strikes the body from opposite my viewing angle, as in these two studies of the model Corey’s unusually well-defined musculature:

Hammock Style (Corey), 2009, by Fred Hatt

Hugging the Blanket (Corey), 2009, by Fred Hatt

Similar techniques are used to convey the form of this beautiful female back:

Callipygia (Lilli), 2009, by Fred Hatt

Various twists and crossings can add interest to reclining poses:

Ankle Knee Cross (Jiri), 2007, by Fred Hatt

The quick sketch below is interesting because you can see my first approach to analyzing the figure, building it out of ovals, in beige, and then a second stage, going for more precision, in black and white, with significant corrections to proportion and relative positions:

L with Twist (Claudia), 2008, by Fred Hatt

That’s Claudia, the Museworthy blogger.  Here’s another of her great poses.  This is dynamism in a horizontal orientation:

Arm Overhead (Claudia), 2010, by Fred Hatt

Here are three wonderfully sinuous poses from the model Madelyn:

Complex Repose (Madelyn), 2010, by Fred Hatt

Tight Coil (Madelyn), 2010, by Fred Hatt

Supine Arched (Madelyn), 2010, by Fred Hatt

This model created an evocative pose simply by posing with a flashlight, giving a feeling of lying awake at night in a lonely tent:

Flashlight (Taylor), 2010, by Fred Hatt

Contrasting that waking stillness, the final pose in this post gives me the impression of active dreaming:

Dreaming Puppeteer (Theresa), 2010, by Fred Hatt

In previous posts I haven’t always credited all the models by name, but in this case it seemed appropriate, because these poses are all so creative and expressive.  You’ll notice some of the same names appearing several times.  These are magnificent models, and I would never have been able to make these images without them.

All drawings are aquarelle crayon on paper, sizes ranging from 18″ x 24″ to 20″ x 28″.  All are 10-minute or 20-minute sketches, mostly drawn at Figureworks Gallery.

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