To celebrate the launch of our latest collection VITA, we caught up with our dear friend & life drawing expert Alexandria Coe; who shares with us her insight and knowledge on how to draw the female form using our new VITA pieces as the models.
How did you get into the world of art?
“I studied textile design at Chelsea, which I have done nothing with, but we did do a lot of drawing which has been really important to my current career. I then did a masters in Fashion Communications. I haven’t actually done fine art, I did stock animations during my MA which was really fun.
My MA was all about expressing the beauty of something hand drawn, so I left my degree with that knowledge which has been really useful. After doing my last dissertation I got myself a studio. I initially had no work but started to draw. Through the magic of Instagram I made my drawing into a career. I was just putting my work out there for others to see. Sometimes you can create the best work when no one is telling you what to do, you’re just doing what you really love. Even while doing my degree I would always come back to drawing. Anyone can start, if you haven’t been to art school it doesn’t matter, you don’t really get taught skills in art school you get taught how to make concepts.”
What do you like so much about drawing the human body?
“It is a hard one but I think from a female perspective it is one of our biggest tools of communication in both a negative and a positive way and I really wanted to take a positive spin on it. I’ve always done life drawing since about 12, there’s something really liberating about drawing a human form and for most humans there’s a degree of reflection in it. It can be really meditative as well and really positive to look at a human body in terms of a drawing opposed to the imperfections we worry about from a photo.
In my classes I try to teach in a way that moves away from technical anatomy, to more of an abstract take. This is useful for a lot of people who are often very critical of their bodies, reminding them to look at the body as a whole form. Through life drawing you can really see what people hang up on about their own bodies, where they focus their attention. I make sure they are always looking at the whole form, they’re looking at shapes and trying to draw the body as unique shapes and lines. You’re never focusing on one part of the body, you’re drawing a beautiful form.”
When drawing the female body where do you start?
“People tend to get really overwhelmed by bodies when drawing because they’re 3D and they’re so easy to get wrong. The most important thing you have to remember is the female form is a 3D object and sometimes objects look really flat when we’re not thinking about drawing the body as a whole. When I teach my drawing classes I ask everyone to start by making a template. This is their way of making mistakes and having a rough sketch so then they can build over it and draw a really nice simple form.”
Now it’s time to get your creative juices flowing and let your inner artist take over. All you will need to create your own masterpiece is some paper, pencil, pen and maybe a model for a little inspiration!
“This demo can be done by either seeing an object, if you have a flatmate who’s willing to model for you or the VITA necklace in front of you, or looking at a photograph of a female body can work in a similar way.
I’m going to start by drawing the VITA necklace piece which consists of shoulders, bust, hips and thighs. Hips and shoulders, especially when someone is standing, are usually quite angled. This particular bust has her hip up slightly higher on one side. I’m going to draw an oval to represent the hips and another 2 ovals to represent the bust and the shoulders. Because we are drawing a 3D form we want the drawing to have a sense of her curves. Draw a line down the middle, called your plum line, to represent the spine. Then we’re going to fill in details with a light line drawing. Starting with the shoulders and neck and moving on to the thighs. These ovals and line drawings are giving you the framework of the female form. It’s really important that you get your hips and shoulders in alignment because this shows how her weight is displaced and how she is standing.
Next with my template, I’m going to take charcoal, but feel free to use anything you have, and I’m going to really simply draw more details onto the template, trying to keep it a maximum of 10 lines. I’m thinking about long linear shapes, not thinking statically. Once you have drawn the linear outlines of the various parts of the bust you’re left with a really simple nude. It’s all about looking and observing. When you’re doing the line work over the top try to always think less is more – find the long flowing lines.
Now let’s try and draw the back of the bust, which can be done in a similar way using the lines and ovals as a guide. Start by drawing your three ovals, don’t forget to think about the relationship between the hips and the shoulders, shoulders slightly up and the hips square. I’m adding an oval overlapping with the shoulder oval to represent her ribcage. Next I’m penciling in the shapes of the shoulders, neck and thighs. Now using charcoal or a pen, start drawing the long body lines. The longest line of this form starts at just under the armpit and comes down to her thighs. After, draw in the rest of the body lines, bum, and a line representing her spine. If you’re ever not happy with your drawings you can layer another sheet of paper over the top and rework certain sections of the drawing.
The next drawing is of a face inspired by the ALEX necklace. People don’t really like drawing faces but you can start in the same way as we did for the body, by making a template then working over the top. A good rule of thumb is your nose is in the middle, your eyes are actually in the middle of your head not your face, and everyone’s mouth is in a different place but it’s usually about a quarter of the way down from your nose. We’re going to start by drawing an oval which represents the face. Then I’m going to draw a line through the middle which represents her centre line. Now separating the oval with three horizontal lines to represent the eyes, nose and mouth.
When it comes to lips you can keep it really simple, with a wavy line and a curved line underneath. Now to fill in the rest of the lower part of the face. Filling in the details on the chin and a slight angle of the jaw line. For the nose I’ve added 2 small curves for the nostrils. For the rest of the nose I’ve drawn a curve line up the face where the line of your nose turns into the arch of the eyebrow. I’ve then mirrored the curve of the eyebrow on the opposite side and drawn two curved lines under each eyebrow line to represent the eyes. The rest of the details you want to add to your face is up to you, potentially adding ears, a hair line and drawing another long line to represent the neck.”