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Figure Drawing: The Structural Anatomy and Expressive Design of the Human Form / Edition 7

Figure Drawing: The Structural Anatomy and Expressive Design of the Human Form / Edition 7

by Nathan Goldstein
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Appropriate for all beginning and intermediate courses in Art, Basic Drawing, Figure Drawing, or Life Drawing.

Providing a concise but comprehensive survey of all matters pertaining to drawing the human figure, this well-illustrated and accurate guide demonstrates the interplay of structure, anatomy, design, and expression in sound figure drawing. This text shows how the integration of these four factors is essential in drawing the figure in a compelling and lucid manner.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780136031918
Publisher: Pearson
Publication date: 02/15/2010
Series: MySearchLab Series for Art Series
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Nathan Goldstein has been an exhibiting artist since 1950. His artwork is in numerous private and public collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Arkansas Art Centre, The National Academy of Design, The Boston Public Library Collection and The Danforth Museum.

Mr. Goldstein was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1927 and began his study of art in 1941 when he attended evening and Saturday classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1945 he enlisted in the U.S. navy and was honorably discharged in 1947. Upon returning to civilian life, Mr. Goldstein continued his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago on the G.I. Bill and received his MFA in painting and drawing in 1953. He briefly served as art director of the Federal Civil Defense Administration Headquarters but soon moved on to pursue a career as a painter and illustrator.

In 1956 Mr. Goldstein moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he began teaching at the New England School of Art. Subsequently he taught at Northeastern University and Boston University. From 1971 to the present, he has been a professor of painting and drawing at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. He was chairman of the Foundation Program of Study from 1971 until 1999. Mr. Goldstein has lectured and presented workshops at universities, colleges, and art schools in 38 states from Hawaii to Rhode Island.

Nathan is a prolific author and has written seven books on painting, drawing, and design. His much acclaimed texts, “The Art of Responsive Drawing,” and “Figure Drawing: The Structural Anatomy and Expressive Design of Human Form” are both in their sixth edition.

Mr. Goldstein was inducted into the National Academy of Design in 1996 and appears in Marquis Who’s Who in American Art, and Who’s Who in the East.

Table of Contents

1 The Evolution of Intent
Major Factors and Concepts in Figure Drawing 1
Some Common Denominators 1
The Emergence of Interpretive Figure Drawing 9
2 The Structural Factor
The Figure As a Structure 35
Some General Observations 35
A Planar Approach to Human Form 42
The Interjoining of Planes and Masses 45
Structure and Value 49
Structural Supports and Suspensions in the Figure 52
Structural Aspects of Foreshortening 55
Seeing Shape, Direction, and Edge 60
Structural Aspects of the Draped Figure and Its Environment 65
Suggested Exercises 75
3 The Anatomical Factor
Part One: The Skeleton 79
Some General Observations 79
Bones of the Skull 80
Bones of the Spinal Column 83
Bones of the Rib Cage 85
Bones of the Shoulder Girdle 86
Bones of the Pelvis 89
Bones of the Arm 91
Bones of the Leg 98
Skeletal Proportions 101
The Skeleton in Figure Drawing 105
Suggested Exercises 113
4 The Anatomical Factor
Part Two: The Muscles 121
Some General Observations 121
Muscles of the Head 122
Surface Forms of the Head 124
Muscles of the Neck 129
Muscles of the Torso 132
Muscles of the Arm 141
Muscles of the Leg 151
Skin and Fat 169
Further Observations on Surface Forms 169
Suggested Exercises 190
5 The Design Factor
The Relational Content of Figure Drawing 195
Some General Observations 195
The Visual Elements 201
Line 201
Value 207
Shape 211
Volume 218
Texture 222
The Elements in Action 228
Direction 229
Rhythm 231
Handling or Character 231
Location and Proximity 232
Subdivision 232
Visual Weight 232
Tension 233
Figurative Influences 234
Examples of Relational Activities in Figure Drawing 235
Anatomy as an Agent of Design 242
The Figure and the Environment 243
Suggested Exercises 252
6 The Expressive Factor
The Emotive Content of Figure Drawing 257
Some General Observations 257
The Expression Inherent in the Elements 262
Distortion 268
The Expressive Role of the Medium 270
Examples of Expression in Figure Drawing 273
Suggested Exercises 284
7 The Factors Interacting
Some Examples 287
Differing Formulas 287
The Pathologies of Figure Drawing 310
Perceptual Defects 310
Organizational Defects 313
Expressive Defects 314
The Role of Media in Expression 315

In Conclusion 317
Glossary 353
Bibliography 355
Index 357


That the five earlier incarnations of Figure Drawing met with immediate and substantial acceptance among artists and students alike is a matter of personal gratification and a dependable sign that something about the book's overall presentation and character has struck a responsive chord among those who want to reinforce their interest in figure drawing with more information and options. This new edition tries to serve those interests with even greater clarity and effect.

The earlier editions—expanded in some places, simplified in others, and further strengthening the original text—were shaped by the opportunities I have had in the intervening years of examining the book's effect on countless readers by the good counsel of colleagues arid students, and by the insights and experiences that time provides. The thing about time, though, is that it keeps on providing new notions. Although with each edition I was satisfied with the book's essential form and content, it occurred to me after a few years that yet another revision was in order. So it is again.

I am, however, a staunch believer in the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Consequently, this sixth edition continues in the same vein as its predecessors, with a few useful additions and changes. Again, I have included a number of colorplates to show how "the queen of the visual elements" can amplify our creative purposes. Most of the works new to this edition are by contemporary artists, and each strongly amplifies various matters of importance in the text. Additionally, I have expanded Chapter 8 with photographs showing the figure's forms in ways I hope the reader will find useful as a source of study and practice. As for the text, the change I am proudest of is that rarest of all occurrences: a reversal of the usual tendency for new editions to gain weight. This edition's slightly reduced text is, I believe, clearer and stronger than previous texts, and it contains some useful adjustments in presenting the relative importance of the book's several themes.

If some of these additions and changes originated with me, many came from readers, students, and colleagues too numerous to list here, and I want to thank them in this public way for helping me to more closely realize my goals on this sixth time around. Always the optimist, I have high hopes for this latest revision. But, always the artist and teacher, I know in my bones that it is the quality and quantity of good figure drawings reproduced in the text that will give this book its ultimate worth. For that important reason, I have tried to reproduce figure drawings that represent a wide range of styles, themes, and eras, though I am less concerned with when they were done than with what they say and how well they say it.

As before, this edition is designed to assist the art student, the amateur, the art teacher, and the practicing artist in developing a more extensive understanding of the figurative and abstract considerations of drawing observed or envisioned human forms.

I continue to hold the single assumption that the artist-reader's interest in expanding his or her understanding is motivated by a wish to comprehend those universal qualities present in the best examples of figure drawing by old and contemporary masters alike, rather than by a wish for ready-made formulas and techniques. Although five of the eight chapters provide suggested exercises, these exercises are intended to clarify and reinforce the particulars and potentialities of the chapter's subject, not to suggest canons of figure drawing. The exercises may be simplified, embellished, otherwise varied, or even be bypassed without interrupting the flow of the text.

The term figure drawing as used here refers to drawings of the draped as well as nude figure, and drawings of parts of the figure or drawings in which the figure represents only a small part of the configuration. Very often, the beginner is too much in awe of the figure to bring to bear those skills he or she does possess, and which are more readily applied to still life and landscape subjects. This broader view, in regarding the figure in its context among the multitude of things that make up our physical world, helps us to recognize that many of the concepts and skills we call on in responding to the things around us apply just as much to the figure's spirit and form.

For the same reason, I have abandoned the traditional approach to anatomy, which is isolated from the figure's dynamic and humanistic qualities and often seems clinical and remote from living individuals. Instead, I have tried to integrate with master drawings and sculptures creative applications of the various parts of anatomy under discussion and to show anatomy's role as both servant and source of structural and dynamic inventions.

In this volume, anatomy is regarded as only one of the four basic factors of figure drawing. The best figure drawings always reveal a congenial interaction among the factors of structure, anatomy, design, and expression. The best teachers, sensitive to this interplay, try to show students the mutually reinforcing behavior of these factors, both in their teaching and in their own creative work.

To my knowledge, no one has previously written a comprehensive discussion of the ways in which the four factors assist and govern each other. If this formulation of the concepts at work (and at play) in the figure helps the reader to better focus on the options and obstacles of figure drawing, or even if in contesting aspects of this presentation the reader is aided in forming a pattern of issues more suited to his or her views, I will have achieved my goal.

I would like to acknowledge my debt to tire writings of Rudolf Arnheim, whose important contributions to the psychology of perception frequently clarified and occasionally confirmed my views on various aspects of perception as they apply to figure drawing.

I wish to express my gratitude and thanks to the many students, artists, and friends whose needs, advice, and interests helped to shape and test the views presented in earlier editions of this book and in this present revised form of the book. I wish also to thank the many museums and individuals who granted permission to reproduce works from their collections. I must thank Charles D. Wise of Medical Plastics Laboratory, Gatesville, Texas, for his cooperation in providing the skeleton replica reproduced in Chapter 3; David Yawnick, Don Hirsh, and Gabrielle Keller for their excellent photographic skills; the late Walter R. Welch for his help with the book's first edition; and Bud Therien of Prentice Hall, whose co-operation and generosity in numerous ways have made this a better book.

The author also thanks the following reviewers for their helpful suggestions: Professor Stephen Lewinter, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Professor Anita Giddings, Herron School of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana; Professor Janice Kmetz, University of Minnesota at Duluth; and Professor Elen Feinberg, University of New Mexico at Albuquerque.

My deepest gratitude to Harriet and Jessica for their practical assistance, care, and understanding, and to my daughter Sarah Hannah, herself a published writer, whose interest, affection, and patience are always there.

Nathan Goldstein

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