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Roger Burnett Art Blog

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.

by rogerburnett , September 30, 2013—12:00 AM

Topics: Passion Love, life, models, sketches, workshops

When my sister-in-law was a medical student, my brother would help her memory retention for anatomy by singing, Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.

I do a similar visual lesson for my life class students. To illustrate the importance of working from the nude, I begin with the model fully clothed. As such, everything below the neck and above the knee is guesswork. The all-important linkages to the torso are hidden from view.

As the model removes her garments, the beautiful construction of the human form is realised. The spine traces an invaluable line from head to thighs, the navel can be seen as a central reference point and the breasts, no longer constricted, reveal their masterly rhythmic curvature.

These reflections on the essential study of the nude came about through leafing through past exam papers for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate in the Visual Arts. Option "A" reads:

"Candidates are required to draw a reclining, clothed human figure...the figure must be partially draped with a sheet leaving the head, feet and at least one arm exposed."

If a student had submitted the drawing shown in today's picture, he or she would very likely have failed. Although my sketch titled "Black Madonna" is partially draped, as per instructions, too much of her God-given beauty is revealed to the eye of the examiner!

The sketch dates from 1997 is included in my retrospective print portfolio.



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