A 2-dimensional surface

Figure drawing opens an artist’s mind

May 3, 2010
by Jamie Santiago | Staff Writer

Most people wouldn’t expect the following to be essential class materials: a pencil, a few erasers, a paper, and a naked person. Figure drawing class meets once a week and is a basic art class at City College. Students learn how to draw one of the most complex figures: a human body.

“It’s kind of at that point where they’ve drawn still life stuff and some landscape stuff and they’ve learned how to do perspective and all those things,” says figure drawing instructor Kathleen Noonan. “Drawing the figure pushed them to the next level having to see a 3-dimensional object and put it into a 2-dimensional surface.”

A nude model poses for a certain amount of time while students learn the techniques and build the skills to become better at drawing the human figure. Noonan says it is completely professional and educational. Most students who join the class are advanced and know what to expect, she says.

“I mean, I suppose to some extent it’s unusual the first time or so, but pretty soon it’s like drawing a still life,” Noonan says.

Computer graphics major Mary Grace Deleon says having to work with a nude model was awkward at first.

“At first I was a little uncomfortable with seeing nude models but, after time, you kind of ignore that they’re nude and focus on how the shape of the body is.”
Noonan says the human form and figure drawing can be seen differently throughout history. Observing the way that human figures were depicted and portrayed reflects what was happening during the time period, Noonan says.

“I think you have to go back to ancient Greece. The human form has always been interesting for people to draw because it’s them. It’s the artist. All through the ages, you can see that people have used it as a measure for humanity itself.”

Deleon says the class has helped her drawing skills and that Noonan teaches students basic techniques to help them understand the human figure.

“Professor Noonan–she teaches us not to focus on the head because it makes it un-proportional when you do the body. She really makes us focus on how the body is.”
Game design major Alan Ervin says, “I’m still kind of learning. But I know [I] did get better since when I first started.”



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