Life Drawing is not so much a unique system of drawing the human form as it is a new way of conceptualizing it. To draw the figure, the artist must “have an idea of what the figure to be drawn is doing” — he must “sense the nature and condition of the action, or inaction.” In this book, Mr. Bridgman, who for nearly 50 years lectured and taught at the Art Students League of New York, explains in non-technical terms and illustrations in hundreds of finely rendered anatomical drawings how best to find the vitalizing forces in human forms and how best to realize them in drawing.
Mr. Bridgman begins by examining movement. After abstracting the main masses of the body — head, chest, and hips — into their rough geometrical equivalents, he gives complete instructions for building a simple model which mounts these masses on wire. By manipulating this scale model, the student may observe how these masses move in space and into what relationships such movement brings them.
Once the student understands how the human form moves, the author tackles the actual problems of drawing the human figure in motion. He first covers simple drawing and building of the figure, then balance, rhythm, turning or twisting, wedging, passing and locking, and the more complex relationship of the masses — distribution, light and shade, mouldings (concave and convex), proportion and how to measure it, and movable masses. From here instruction turns to specific areas of the anatomy; the head and features, including the neck; the torso, front and back views; the abdominal arch; the shoulder girdle; the upper limbs, hands, and fingers; and the lower limbs, thigh and leg, knee, and finally foot. Every point of instruction and principle is illustrated in one of nearly 500 of Mr. Bridgman’s own “life” drawings.
There is no student nor serious artist, either amateur or professional, who cannot profit greatly from Bridgman’s instruction. Like his famous anatomy course at the Art Students League, it is likely to vitalize your work with the human form.