Serving Art Educators
and Students Since 1994


Nicole Brisco's Art Room

Exploration of the Human Figure

From Nicole Brisco: "The figure is an integral part of a drawing or painting program. In the beginning stages of figure drawing my students work from a live figure in the classroom. I believe this is what makes or breaks a students quality of drawing later. We begin with the basics, gesture, blind contour, contour, value, cross contour, proportion, etc.


As students progress we continue with the figure but focusing more on non-traditional media, unusual light sources, points of view. Through the years students realize that the figure is a vehicle for ideas, themes, and conceptual ideas that can become a narrative or storytelling tool. Whether it is a self-portrait, friend, stranger, or family member the figure allows a direct connection to the viewers. As students become more comfortable with their drawing, media, and use of color I allow them to use photographs. These photos must be original and taken specifically for project.


I do not allow pre-existing images since the students can not control the light, view, or context. I encourage students to think of a variety of ideas before they begin and do life sketches of the person and environment. These sketches should address color, composition, and approach. It is then up to the student to allow the piece to bloom and grow in its own creativity. Some approaches might include: non-traditional media, light source, narrative, multiple self portraits, series, positive-negative space, social statement with the figure.


[View more pages to see many examples of student work. See the page index at the bottom. Click images for larger views]


Beginning proportion      Foreshortening painting

1. Beginning stages... use of line, proportion, gesture... short poses

2. Later learning about foreshortening... unusual perspectives


Multiple views of figure      social statement figure

3. Incorporating multiple views of the figure to create a cohesive work of art.

4. Figure making a social statement


Complex figures in space      10 min gestures

5. Complex figures in space

6. 1 min. 3 min and 10 min gestures combined to create composition


Gesture drawing      Gesture portrait

7. Prepared papers and gestures

8. Figure/Add Portrait... contrasting imagery


Figures in sketchbook      Figures in sketchbook

9. Figure in Sketchbook

10. Figure in sketchbook


Self Portrait in a Non-Traditional Way      Ethereal figures

11. Self Portrait in a Non-Traditional Way

12. Figure with ethereal imagery


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All works on these pages Copyright 2004- 2005. Permission can not be granted for other use