Ben Fenske Figure Construction Class, March 2016

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Ben Fenske taught an stunningly informative class earlier this month in my studio.  It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to call his courses ‘drawing classes’, although most of the time is spent drawing: either Ben demonstrating while lecturing, or the group drawing from the live model.  We advertise Ben’s courses as ‘construction’ courses, ways to study building the figure, with the goal being the ability to draw with or without the live model.  Perhaps more accurately, we could say that these are courses in theory and abstract conception of the figure through the memorization of specific anatomical points and surface references.  But it’s easier to say ‘Construction’.

 

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Ben puts a huge amount of effort into these classes (see above two of Ben’s life-size sculpted examples for this class,  two different constructions of the core of the body, ribcage and pelvis, with anatomical references marked).  For those who don’t know Ben and his work, he is a painter who uses a fast and loose impressionistic technique, and as the history of representational painting has shown us, the best ‘loose’ painting requires a huge amount of theoretical and academic understanding.

Each day Ben would lecture on anatomy and draw examples, the class drawing along with him and taking notes.

 

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Below, see a few of Ben’s boards from his morning lectures.  The top image is on proportions of the figure and begins outlining Ben’s system of points which are to be mapped out on the figure.  This technique is an amalgam of what Fenske studied at the Russian school in Florence, and his own studies on artistic anatomy.

 

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Then, each afternoon we had a model, male and female.  The students were all very ready to draw after spending the morning taking notes and drawing from Ben’s sculpted models.

 

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Here’s one of the students, Vaijayanti Meweda at work, and below, her drawing.  I think it was a nice example of some of the concepts Ben was trying to trying to have the students work with, hatching and directional modeling rather than value-based modeling- especially since she had a backlit view of the model.

 

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Additionally, Vaijayanti gets an extra-special shout-out for helping to organize our pot-luck lunch on the last day.  The food was great, and while everyone ate, Ben gave a lecture on the computer on some of the art that inspires him.  All in all, the class was amazing, just overflowing with practical information, and I’m glad to say Ben will be back to teach this August.

 

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Ben’s Recommended Book List:

Gottfried Bammes (in english, but not complete) http://amzn.to/1Um4hvp
Gottfried Bammes Die Gestalt des Menshen (this is the more complete book, all images) http://amzn.to/1RoKWtc
The other Bammes Figure book, also in German and excellent http://amzn.to/1UaJ4oQ
Nikolai Li’s figure drawing book (in russian, great images) http://amzn.to/1Me4luK
Nikolai Li book on the Portrait (in Russian, great price right now) http://amzn.to/1RqFEr2
‘Struttura Uomo’ Pozza book volume one http://amzn.to/1Me3r1n  (I can’t currently find easily volume two, ebb and flow of book availability)
Richer’s Artistic Anatomy http://amzn.to/1Me3GcD
Hatton’s Figure Drawing: A Complete Guide http://amzn.to/1RT84uj
Russian Fundamentals of Drawing Textbook (in english, not as extensive as the Li books, but very good) http://amzn.to/258GMK9
Russian Academy books on alumni and teachers, these are all paperback and in chinese: