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Drawing skulls

November 25, 2007


Lately I’ve felt dissatisfied with my drawing skills – it seems as though I don’t really know what I’m doing sometimes.  I go to a life drawing class but the teacher, while an excellent draftsperson herself, isn’t very good at explaining what went wrong when a drawing doesn’t work out.  She seems to see it all as sort of a spiritual experience, and will make comments like, “there’s not enough mystery in this“, without any further explanation (even when pressed).  So, while surfing around on the web a couple of weeks ago, after googling “life drawing”, I stumbled upon a site by a guy named Riven Phoenix.  Several blogs about art had hailed his dvds on figure drawing as better than any instruction they’d had in art school – it seemed ok, and he was selling five dvds for 45 US dollars, so what did I have to lose?  A quick click on a paypal link and it was done.  Hmm, he didn’t even ask for my address… but when I emailed him with my concerns he assured me that it was ok, he’d gotten my address from paypal and my order was on it’s way.  It arrived in a little over a week, which is record time for a transatlantic delivery like that.  Then I couldn’t get them to work – I emailed Riven with my concerns, and he promptly provided tech support. It was easy – my son later told me that I’m the one who’s incompatible with technology. And I’ve been slaving away ever since.  This stuff is hard!  He gets into precise descriptions of proportions and angles, and urges you to commit them to memory as quickly as possible. I’m only on lesson 14, out of 178 I think, and I’ve already learned so much – but I’ve really had to work.  I don’t know if the whole course will be as useful as this beginning part.  Anyway, if you have time to kill and are interested in some excellent information, I urge you to check out his website – the first 19 lessons are available there for free.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2007 10:57 am

    This sounds great Casey, thanks for sharing!
    You are one of my star posts this week. 😉

  2. November 25, 2007 12:29 pm

    Thanks for the info. I am still hoping to learn figure drawing on my own (i.e. with books not life drawing classes which would be one more thing to fit into an overloaded schedule). Next year I also need to tackle faces – does he include portrait drawing?

  3. November 25, 2007 1:51 pm

    Hello –

    I would like to invite you to join in on a little portrait-drawing-fun … please drop by here:

    The site is just starting out, but it’s looking promising already, I think!

    Kim Larsen

  4. caseytoussaint permalink*
    November 25, 2007 3:28 pm

    Shirley, to answer your question, he does deal with the structure of the head in some of the early lessons – and that is a definite help in portrait drawing.

  5. November 25, 2007 4:19 pm

    I love going back to basics, Casey. Sometimes I think I do it to avoid an actual painting 😉 I’ll check out the site. These do sound great. Love your new blog style. Very sophisticated and dramatic.

  6. November 25, 2007 4:27 pm

    Sounds like exactly what I need too. I have a bit of an advantage when figure drawing and with portraits that I know anatomy well enough to know what we look like with our skin off, but I tend to ‘rush’ through things so this might be a good challenge for me. Thanks for the info!

  7. November 25, 2007 10:41 pm

    Sounds interesting, Casey. I’m going to let you be the advanced guard on this (mostly because I don’t know that I have the same patience with that kind of material that you do.) I’d love to read more as you get into it.

  8. November 26, 2007 5:41 am

    This looks really interesting. I think he’s right about memorizing those basic measurements and divisions to help get it right. I’ve opened his page and am considering trying out the free lessons. Good for you for taking the step to really do the work!

  9. November 26, 2007 2:44 pm

    Thanks for the nice comment on my blog. I found yours by reading on Laurelines and love the work that both of you are doing. Thanks, also, for the drawing information and will definitely read more about it. I love buying books and dvds about anything art related and my drawing skills always need improving.

  10. November 26, 2007 4:19 pm

    sounds interesting Casey..thanks for posting

  11. November 29, 2007 8:18 pm

    there’s an amazing site called have a look it will blow your mind.

  12. December 9, 2007 7:55 am

    I also have those DVD’s and they are wonderful. He puts lots of emphasis on making your own creation, while using the principles of anatomy. His works have been used by some of the great art studios like Disney. I have learned so much, but must admit there is a lot of information and it does take practice. I highly recommend this material, and for the cost it is well worth it. You cannot find this much teaching for this cost. Check out his stuff on YouTube and see for yourself. My work with people has steadily improved since starting his material and I am not even 1/3 through.

  13. March 13, 2008 12:48 am

    Hey thanks for the post, good stuff!

    – Lee (

  14. September 26, 2009 6:34 pm

    should one study other ways of drawing the human figure,say,gesture drawing while undertaking this course or even use anatomy books for referencing?

  15. September 26, 2009 7:55 pm

    I often use pictures like coping other artist,should I continue to do so?

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