Tag Archives: skeleton

Bones And Brown Paper

23 Apr


I like studying anatomy. I love the interface between art and science. Sometimes I get access to a skeleton and scribble happily for hours.


These drawings are on very large sheets of brown wrapping paper, using black, white and sanguine conte crayons. Working on this scale gave me the chance to focus on mark-making rather than doing a scientific illustration.

My Chiropodist’s Leg!

14 Sep

I paid a visit to my chiropodist yesterday for my quarterly foot-hack. Anatomical study is important in both our professions and we have interesting chats about art and science. I frequently work from the resident skeleton at our art studios, Felicity. During our chat my chiropodist asked me if I wanted to hold his leg. Of course, I jumped at the chance. So he went to his cupboard, pulled out a long drawstring bag and took out the bottom of a human leg, below the knee. The skeleton I work from is a plastic cast, but this leg is real. It has a different weight and the bone feels more – organic I guess. He showed me how to arrange the bones as they should be, if the tendons and muscles and so on were there. When you hang a skeleton, the foot bones tend to splay out, but they should be arched and the tibia and fibula sit in a particular way on the top of the foot. Interesting stuff. Well, to me anyway.

Drawn in chalky pastels and compressed charcoal into a cream A2 sketchbook.

A Skeleton in my Studio

13 Sep

Ink drawing: a skeleton in my studio.

This is Felicity and she’s borrowed from another artist; she’s living in my studio at the moment and looks out into the street over the bus stop, scaring passengers who look up.


Why do I draw from a skeleton? It’s partly technical, to understand the beautiful mechanics of the human body which helps me with my life drawing. As an artist who works mostly with the human body, particularly with nudes, studying anatomy helps improve my artistic practice as I can better understand what’s going on under the skin, proportion, movement, foreshortening….. I’m lucky that I can share my studio with a skeleton as I can do a bit of anatomy whenever I want.


But there’s more to it than that. Having Felicity here constantly reminds me that we are ethereal creatures, here for such a short time and that all too soon we’ll end up just like her. It also reminds me that we are very alone. Our bodies are barriers to the universe, keeping ourselves inside and everything else outside. We can never really know what anyone, or anything, is thinking, feeling, experiencing or even if they see, smell, hear the same things as oneself. In a world teeming with billions of people, and even more billions of other life forms, each of us is essentially locked in to our own tiny fragile body. It’s a source of wonder to me that we manage to form societies and civilisations; that we put aside our separation and isolation to interact with each other and the world around us.



Watercolour Sketches – Real Artgeek Stuff!

12 Aug

Watercolour sketch of a skull.


I don’t always sketch in pen; now and again I use watercolour. It’s good discipline to break out of my comfort zone and it forces me to observe and record colour. I almost always draw from life and I enjoy doing anatomical studies. I have a borrowed skeleton, called Felicity, in my studio [I didn’t name her and she’s plastic] and here’s a detailed watercolour sketch, on Bockingford paper, of Felicity’s skull, set against a background of screenprinted vertebrae on hand coloured Zercoll paper, using System 3 acrylics and screenprinting medium.


Watercolour sketch: my left hand.


I did this study of my hand in watercolour on Bockingford. I spent two days studying and recording it and the more I looked, the more I saw. It’s amazing how colourful skin is when you look really hard. I use Windsor and Newton artist quality watercolours and I prefer Bockingford as it’s very white and gives excellent luminosity. I started by working both up as very light pencil sketches and then added the watercolour, wetting the paper as I went.

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