Geoff Flack: On Form Defining Lines
An excerpt from our Geoff Flack Lecture Series,: Anatomy: Form, Proportions, Carrying Angle, Landmarks & Rhythms that ran May-June.
The study of the human figure is based on a triadic approach: the simultaneous study of drawing, anatomy, and sculpture. Through sculptural exercises we engage in constructing the form in three dimensions, compelling us to consider the figure in the round. The study of structural anatomy helps us make sense of the human form, to understand the figure’s underlying construction, the proportions, and the landmarks that give us clues and make us better observers. Understanding the form of each individual part of the body along with how they relate to each other, how they change when the body moves, and how they influence each other helps us make more credible renderings.
Take the underlying construction.
The human figure’s underlying structure is the skeleton — with multitudes of forms (muscles, tendons, fat) wrapping around it. This wrapping creates a series of different curves with varying shapes and volumes. When we look at the contour of the figure we see that it is made of a series of convex curves (curves that bend outward from the interior) and no concave curves (curves bending inward). So even when there appears to be a concavity we must look closely and study the series of convex curves that make up that concave sweep.
Picture a braided rope that, when outlined, creates convex curves. If we were to bend that rope you would still see the convex curves making up its silhouette. This is the same of the human form, by outlining convexities we expose underlying structure and form.
Gage’s current lecture series is in Gage Georgetown Calling: An Art History Lecture Series with Emily Pothast.