Research point: Foreshortening


Foreshortening is an interesting concept, and is something I’ve found quite difficult. Foreshortening, which was developed during the Renaissance, can be defined as the following:

to shorten by proportionately contracting in the direction of depth so that an illusion of projection or extension in space is obtained” (

I had a couple of attempts at this with pencil, where I positioned myself on my bed, with my feet facing a mirror. I chose to do this in the evening, with simple soft lighting from the side of me.


In my first attempt, I sat facing the mirror and used a 4B pencil to shade the general shapes and tones. I kept it quite loose, and spent around 30 minutes on this drawing.


I then thought I would have a go at a second attempt, still with my feet being nearest to the mirror, but with a slightly more ‘relaxed’ pose. I used a simple HB pencil for this sketch.

I’m not sure what I found most difficult about this: drawing myself, or trying to capture the distorted shapes of foreshortening!

I then had a go at sketching my housemate as he stood looking at his phone:


Again, I have noted that facial features aren’t my strong point, but I think I captured the form reasonably well for a quick sketch (less then ten minutes), and the arms were particularly challenging – the left because the hand holding the e-cigarette kept moving between pocket and mouth, and the right hand with the phone, as it was foreshortened. 

This was an interesting exercise, and although I have not been all that adventurous in my use of mediums, it has helped me identify a few things in particular that I need to work on!

Research – Artists who use foreshortening to create a particular effect

I looked up a couple of artists that I was aware of having done a lot of work with figure drawing, including some experimental and challenging poses.

Egon Schiele

Although this name came up in my research, having looked through his work, I did not find it appealing to me. Schiele was influenced heavily by Gustave Klimt, and a lot of his worked looked very distorted. The artist did a lot of work with self-portraits, many of which I accessed on the following website:

Some of his paintings did make me think of one of the exercises I tried in a life drawing session last weekend, in which torn newspaper was used to build up a picture of the model:


This image was created purely with the torn strips of newspaper. I chose to work entirely with the monochrome pages, and attempted to build up shading using darker strips of paper.

Jenny Saville

Saville’s work intrigues me, as I have come across some of her work previously using charcoal. My tutor also suggested researching Saville’s work in Part 1 for her use of charcoal.

The work that I looked at on the Saatchi Gallery’s website ( consisted of her oil paintings of a range of either obese or distorted and foreshortened models. Both Prop and Propped interested me, as the drawing of the knees is something that I often find difficult in life drawing, yet in these works Saville has used tone to capture the knees coming towards the viewer. This is something I am trying to work on through observation, and life drawing sessions. Other works that I found interesting were Saville’s charcoal drawings, such as Time (2010), Mother and child (after the Leonardo cartoon) (2009) and the more recently created Ashes (2016-17), as these were all large charcoal drawings, that to me looked really bold, but also gave a suggestion of movement by building up layers of loose lines and shading. I viewed all of these images on ArtNet (



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