The challenge of longer poses

One of the things I want to work on this year is getting better at working on longer pieces. I love a quick, gestural sketch (and quick poses which tend to be more dynamic and exciting). I find that working fast and loose lets me capture weight and posture, movement and aliveness much better than working slowly does.


figure_27_1But there is certainly something to be gained from learning to work slower, to check proportions and placement more carefully, and look more closely at anatomy and structure, light and shade…

My challenge for this year is figuring how to keep that freshness and aliveness in longer pieces I work on. The dynamism of poses the model strikes just can’t be the same. So what then?



We’ll see where I land with that one, it’s going to be a challenge to figure it out. If you have any insights to share, I’d love to hear from you.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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14 Responses to The challenge of longer poses

  1. I love the last one, the man reclining — amazing piece!


  2. wrightottawa says:

    I have a similar challenge. a revelation came to me last year when life drawing – don’t worry about the whole figure. Draw a face or a hand or a foot. I don’t go regularly, but I think with that approach, I could graduate to a whole figure study.


    • thanks wrightooawa. Does working on just one little bit help you work longer? or do you just work in over a sustained pose o different details as different little pieces?


      • wrightottawa says:

        it helps me focus and draw with more precision…left to my own devices, I like to capture the whole body gesture,…by taking a portion I find I can focus on that and not get overwhelmed.
        My theory is that if I went to life drawing regularly i’d work up to a careful study of the whole figure – sort of like training – start with shorter distances and build up


  3. miatagrrl says:

    Sorry, no insights to share — I’m struggling with the same issues! 🙂 But for what it’s worth, I see the same freshness in all of your figure studies, regardless of how long the pose might have been. I’ve been going to life drawing more regularly this winter (I never go when the weather improves because I want to sketch outdoors!), so I hope the practice eventually helps me.



  4. flavikiwi says:

    there is a good book titled “sehen und verstehen” from Gottfried Bammes. even if you don’t know german, you can learn it all just by looking, it’s a bible for anatomy :))
    I invite you to check out my drawings too ;))


  5. Stu-ttg-art says:

    Suhita, You’re preaching to the choir here. This blog post could have been from me. You took the words right out of my mouth. Good luck! I love the reclining female model. How long did you need? It really has your handwriting. I’d suggest to keep your work at 80 percent quick and only 20 percent slow (relation based on time or material, whatever). What do you think?


    • Stu-rrg-art, if nothing else, it’s good to know I’m not the only one wondering how to work on a long pose. And when I say long, I don’t really mean very long: the reclining female model page is done over one 20 minute session where I just drew the figure on the left, and then a 30 minute session where I used watercolors, was vaguely unhappy with where I ended up and did a quick 5 minute head on the right. And yes, I don’t mean for my slower work to ever replace the quick capture stuff, I just want to learn to do it for a very different sort of learning.


  6. Jan Blencowe says:

    I have the exact same issue. Love the gestures and hate the long poses! Usually during long pose, I work smaller and move around to get different views if I can do that without being disruptive.


  7. Maybe instead of trying for “correctness” or illustrating what is, try for poetry.
    I strive for mystery, work that is evocative, or placing the figure in a setting. The model can be just a starting point.


  8. Margaret Hunt says:

    We do two hours but with breaks it’s about an hour and a half. I think after TWO years I MIGHT be getting it. Spending lots more time on the block in than I did and using large brushes. You can get fidelity with small brushes. No pencil all paint. And don’t take them home and work on them. They get too polished. And as a first grader once told me. That’s all I got! 🤓


  9. Amelia says:

    I’m taking your Craftsy class, and I think your approach to quick studies has some similarities with James McMullen’s High Focus Drawing book, which is about finding the rhythm in a figure, and focuses on longer poses. I’d be interested to see your thoughts on that, but if you haven’t read it before, it may be useful.


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