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Paul Berryman

11th March 2023

On Saturday 11th March, we were treated to a fascinating demonstration on Zoom by the very talented Paul Berryman, who showed us his tips and techniques for Portraiture Life Drawing. He discussed methods to overcome the usual pitfalls experienced by Life Drawing artists such as proportions, foreshortening, construction, and depth of value (the difference between light and dark that we can render with our media).

Paul worked with his “favourite pencil”, a General’s charcoal 2B pencil on “cheap newsprint”, (Seawhite newsprint A3, A4) enabling him to work quickly, acknowledging that quick poses were an opportunity to “let go” and allow everything to be expendable. He explained that fast poses, without too much detail, are very important to encourage the artist to loosen up, like a warm-up, before starting out on a longer project. He completed several one and two-minute poses, using simple outline drawings, then went on to longer five and six-minute poses to add more depth and detail. (See examples below.)

He spoke about Proportions, referring to the angles of body parts like hands on a clockface. He discussed Observation Techniques and Negative Spaces. Adding shade during the “Block In” phase started to give the drawing depth and he approached the “Perils of Foreshortening”, by comparing the different layers in a drawing to a view of the Malvern Hills, with the understanding that the layers disappear into the distance, starting with the strongest marks at the front and fading to softer tones at the back.

Paul shared his very useful tips on how to combine Animating skills with Atelier style classic training, to give a superb rendering of a dynamic Life Drawing with detail and movement. He made us aware of being able to “break” the body into 8 parts: Head (oval), neck (small box), torso (large box/cube), hips (bowl shape), 2 arms (cones), 2 legs (cones)…all working as separate components that have a relationship with each other.

To sum up with a few of Paul’s mantras:

“Practice and Repetition is Key to improving skills and speeding up the process”.

“Drawings need to be based on Observation, not what we think it should look like”.

The importance of the “Value Scale”, the difference between light and dark ….

(On a scale of 1-5-9/ White-Mid grey- Black).

As a novice to Life Drawing, I was mesmerised by this demonstration and am certainly inspired to try out his tips and tricks for improvement. Hopefully you will also be inspired to take up or work on your techniques. Why not come along to our occasional Life Drawing sessions at St Philip and St James Church to try out your skills. (See our website and Facebook page for dates).

Please see Paul’s website: for further information and details of materials used (all available on Amazon and E-Bay).

Amanda Smith



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