Studying with Glenn Vilppu : animals, head painting and spidersense

My spidersense tells me something about you – stare at this text, closer, closer – there I see it: among your drawing problems is: you draw too dark, also you always make on part of the body, always the same, too long or too short (Glenn says he tends to make legs too long, I tend to make heads too small… and mess up the rest ahum), also I read in many of you: you often draw a rather perfect eye but drawing the head around it is…. problematic and ruins is all, I also sense in some of you that you forget the head is not a flat surface made of the face but a box with depth…. isn’t my spidersense great? Joking apart these problems are in everybody, particularly but not only in beginners (we get rid of them – the problems and make beginners advanced artists thanks to Glenn’s indications) so stop moaning and groaning and do something about it: you are normal, you are flawed like every one else but with a bit of work you can become far more, all you need is a guide. I’m currently in head painting class, like Glenn said to me during his last critic after pointing out what I should work on he said “stop moaning and groaning: you are doing fine!”. Yes I’m a moaner and groaner and so are you (that goes with being human)

One class that helped me immensely with human figure drawing (and all the problems I mentioned above) is animal drawing (there are two classes for it, there is so much to learn).

How can drawing a chicken or a dog or a horse help you draw humans? Well Glenn Vilppu makes it quite clear from lesson one: we (living creatures) are all built the same, it’s proportions that change. Birds have fingers (so do whales by the way, inside their… er what is it called… well their equivalent of hands). Quadrupeds are build like us except their feet and hands are super long (what most people think is the elbow or knee in their dog is in fact their wrist and ankle! Why do cats sometimes seems made of liquid because they can pass everywhere? Well, they have no collarbone to speak of!

The art of comparing animals to humans is called comparative anatomy (scientifically we are classified as great apes btw, along with gorillas bonobos chimpanzee and orang outan – scientists did not make a lot of PR around that classification considering it might annoy some people, but it’s the clue to so much!) I love comparative anatomy, but Glenn Vilppu’s animal classes is truly about drawing the beasties, the human is a reference but he shows you how to draw any beastie starting from the skeleton (fascinating class, my favourite I think) to the outside (feathers, fur – simplify it! – etc).

I’m ready to bet that someone having never drawn and taking the animal class by Glenn Vilppu (and doing the homework of course) would have no big problem drawing a human – “ah yes the proportions are different and the ribcage in in the other direction ok I get it”. I think what improved my human drawing the most (outside of drawing lots of them and taking the figure lessons) is the animal class. Suddenly you see things with a new eye, and it also allows you to invent new creatures which can be a lot of fun.

The difference between a bear and a big dog is not much when it comes to structure, the difference between a bear and you is not much either structure wise – if I see you I’ll probably say hello, if I see a bear I’ll probably beat Hussain Bolt record, that is another difference but again due to proportions (bear= very tall with very with very big claws and teeth, I bet even if you have perfect teeth and long polished nails they are not that scary.)

In short I can’t recommend enough the animal classes. And if your artistic calling is all about drawing horses I’d advise you to take the figure drawing (human) classes because knowing the human body will help you so much in drawing a horse! it works both ways.

See you next week, and if you just drew something too dark (and therefore can’t refine or correct it) just take a kneaded eraser and erase your drawing – there will remain quite enough to guide you (truly, try it).

Draw as much as you can (yes it might be a problem when dining with in-laws who cant understand how you can eat, have a truly meaningful conversation and draw at the same time but we all faced that or at least we should!)

stay safe
Anton (great human ape and so proud of it, though I confess I’d rather be a gorilla, they are far nicer than humans)

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