Fig­ure Fun­da­men­tals Vol­ume 4

Low­brow artist Van Arno in­vites you into a life-draw­ing ses­sion where you’ll have use your own head, not just the mod­els’

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Pub­lisher The Gnomon Work­shop Price £41 he fourth in Van Arno’s Fig­ure Fun­da­men­tals se­ries (we re­viewed Vol­ume 1 on the fe­male body in is­sue 127) sees the artist fo­cus on the male head, fol­low­ing on from the fe­male head cov­ered in the pre­vi­ous in­stal­ment.

On pa­per, the three-and-a-half-hour run­ning time looks im­pres­sive, but closer in­spec­tion re­veals that the video only of­fers a mere 15 min­utes of the­ory, where Van shows you how to work out ba­sic pro­por­tions and make a head draw­ing feel more three-di­men­sional with planes. The artist is clearly re­luc­tant to bog you down with for­mu­las and rules – some of which, he says, are “kind of iffy”.

The rest is as prac­ti­cal as it gets. Van works with a cou­ple of life mod­els, ask­ing them to pose and show­ing you both the pose and his draw­ing as he makes it. The idea is that you get out your own draw­ing pad and sketch along with Van. It’s like at­tend­ing a

TFor­mat Down­load Web www.theg­nomon­work­ group life-draw­ing ses­sion where you get to look over a mas­ter artist’s shoul­der while you draw, with the added bonus of be­ing able to press the pause and re­play but­tons.

Model ses­sions in­clude five-minute sketches from var­i­ous an­gles, an en­ter­tain­ing se­ries of ex­pres­sions in which Van en­cour­ages you to stay loose with your line, and a more in­depth ex­plo­ration of re­lat­ing head planes to light, ren­der­ing both high­lights and shad­ows with coloured pa­per rep­re­sent­ing the mid-tone.

The par­tic­i­pa­tory na­ture of the for­mat means that Fig­ure Fun­da­men­tals Vol­ume 4 isn’t as dense with in­for­ma­tion as some train­ing videos you’ll have watched. Es­sen­tially, what you get out of it de­pends in large part on what you’re pre­pared to put in. One ca­su­alty of this prac­ti­cal em­pha­sis is that you don’t come out with much sense of what makes a male head ‘male’, other than some brief dis­cus­sion of jaw­lines and broad pro­por­tions.

A longer se­quence of poses gives Van Arno and you the chance to use your knowl­edge of head planes to build up light and shade. Two the­ory ses­sions guide you through ba­sic pro­por­tions and how to think of a head con­struc­tion in three­d­i­men­sional planes. Model Jonathan en­joys him­self as Van Arno asks him to show a se­ries of ex­pres­sions for you to sketch.

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