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COURSE NAME: "Figure Drawing"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021

INSTRUCTOR: James Gardner
EMAIL: jgardner@johncabot.edu
HOURS: T9:00 AM 11:45 AM

Figure drawing is the traditional basis for training the artist’s eye and hand. Through specific exercises, students learn to control line and gesture, to model form in light and dark, and to depict accurately the forms and proportions of the human body.
Every class is dedicated to drawing from a nude model.  Students must also do a considerable amount of work outside of class time.  Reproductions of paintings from diverse historical periods are shown in order to illustrate points concerning the use of the figure in art.  Visits to exhibitions may also be scheduled, in order to deepen knowledge of various painting traditions, and most importantly, to study master works up close and in the flesh. Students should aim to attend exhibitions within their own time, as homework, to demonstrate their engagement with the course. Group critiques help students develop a language for discussing their own drawings and paintings and those of others.        

The class is characterized by an atmosphere of study and experimentation, working with concentration and humility in front of an objective reality. The aim is to understand and to discover, rather than simply to follow the rigid steps of a traditional academic regime. Students are encouraged to find their own, individual approaches, and no particular style is promoted.      

Other points:   
1.  The course involves working from direct observation.  Working from photographs is not permitted.   
2.  The course may include illustrated lectures and museum visits. 
3.  The core activity is working in class from the nude model.  Supplementary sessions may also be arranged.  Students are also expected to work outside of class on subject matter of their own choice.
4. We will use pencil at first, and then charcoal and ink. We will do certain directed drawing exercises designed to liberate hand and eye.  
5.  The course is meant to be a framework allowing very free individual artistic choices.  The assignments listed are meant to help students get started.  There is always leeway for alternatives, with consultation.  Interesting variations could include making a very large-scale work, working collaboratively, or creating a narrative cycle of works. 
6.  Students must come to class on time, because announcements, assignments, brief slide lectures, discussions, etc. take place at the beginning of the class. 
7.  A list of materials will be given at the first class meeting.  Students buy their own art supplies. There is no textbook. For the first few classes you will need an oversize standard pad of student grade drawing paper, soft pencils (3-6B is good), erasers, a pencil sharpener. Later in the semester you will need charcoal, ink and brushes.
Art supply stores: Poggi (two locations, one in Trastevere on Via Merry del Val, just off Viale Trastevere, and the other on Via Pie’ di Marmo, near the Pantheon), Arte Tre, Via del Fiume near Via Ripetta and the Piazza del Popolo, and Vertecchi, a chain with several branches. Drawing supplies are also commonly found in stationary stores (cartolerie). 
8. Please do not use earbuds during class time, as they isolate students and impede communication.
Diligent students will leave the course with greatly improved skill in depicting the human figure in space, and with a new understanding of some of the traditions and problems in figure drawing and painting.

Portfolio of the semester's workGrading is based on a judgment of the portfolio of drawings created over the semester. The amount of work done is important, since more work means more progress. Commitment, range of experimentation, improvement, resourcefulness, degree of observation, expressiveness, and other aspects of technical skill and artistic quality are considered. 100

AWork of this quality shows excellent mastery of the course content along with exceptional levels of technical skill, artistic awareness, originality, resourcefulness, commitment, quantity of work and improvement. There has been excellent collaboration and leadership in group projects, and there have been no attendance problems.
BA highly competent level of performance with work that directly addresses the content of the course, with a good quantity of work produced.
CAn acceptable level of performance: the work shows awareness of the course content, but is very limited in quantity, quality, commitment and skill.
DThe student lacks a coherent grasp of the course material and has failed to produce much work.
FNegligent in attendance, academic honesty, engagement with the course content, or production of work.


Attendance is mandatory. Students must arrive promptly, with materials, ready to begin the lesson. Unauthorized absences will result in grade penalties. 3 absences will result in an F. Students are expected to engage with the course outside class time. Attending exhibitions and producing self-motivated art work is imperative to success within the course. 

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


1 Introduction to course. Portraiture and Proportion. 

2 Proportion of the human figure. Use of Line to show form. (Pencils and  large (minimum A2 paper will be required).

3 Tone and Form (charcoal will be required and large sheets of paper A2 or A1).

4. Tone and Form continued.

5 Gesture and Control - ‘Draw with your fork, eat spaghetti with your brush.’  Lesson devoted to alternative tools for drawing and experimental mark making. (Large sheets of paper  and Indian ink will be required). 

6 Gesture and Form - Wet on Wet. (Large sheets of (thick) paper and Indian ink will be required.)

7 Abstracting the figure. 

8 Regain Control - Lesson devoted to using directional and descriptive marks to show Form. (Students may opt to use ink or charcoal).

9 Take Away - Lesson devoted to the concept of removal of media to show to reveal form. (Charcoal, an eraser and large sheets of paper will be required).

10 Figure in space – lesson devoted to capturing the figure within space. 

11 Individual Experimentation - students, in discussion with the Professor, will choose materials and own agenda for tackling a variety of poses. 

12 Individual Experimentation continued. 

13 Individual Experimentation continued. 

14 Final Crit