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The lower limbs and feet

Adele Wagstaff concludes her series on anatomy to inform your figure drawing and painting with a look at the structures and muscles of the legs and feet


Pencil and graphite drawing in Daler- Rowney sketchbook, 11×8in (28×21cm), of the cast of Cupid Kindling the Torch of Hymen by George Rennie, 1832, in the Victoria & Albert Museum

The legs and feet support the weight of the pose, giving us balance, poise and strength. As we look at a standing pose, the position of the legs and the way in which the weight of the body moves through them will influence the rhythms and angles we see through the rest of the body.

Sculpture and the development of contrapposto

Contrapposto is an Italian word used to describe the asymmetry of the figure in a standing pose. It means counterpose, and we see this in a standing pose when the weight is taken dominantly through one leg; as one leg relaxes the hip drops and in the upper torso, shoulders and arms the angle drops in the opposite direction. This important development of contrapposto is first seen in classical Greek sculpture, resulting in poses becoming more dynamic and harmonious.

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About The Artist

Water-based media enthusiasts will find huge inspiration and masses of great advice from professional artists Hazel Soan, Jake Winkle, Cheryl Culver, Paul Weaver and Marie Antoniou this month. Hazel explains how to translate tones into watercolour on paper to maximise the effects of light and shade in your paintings; Jake reveals the watercolour techniques he recommends to paint texture and patterns in animals; Cheryl demonstrates a coastal scene in acrylics; Paul urges you to try quick studies in line and wash to keep your en plein air skills in tip top condition while Marie demonstrates how to use tube black to best effect in your acrylic paintings! Learn more from Adele Wagstaff about the structure of the lower limbs and feet to help improve your figure painting, and the colours to use for skin tones for your coloured pencil portraits from Alyona Nicklesen. With more features on pastel painting, detailed still lifes, a new technique to try and oil painting demonstrations from Peter Graham and Bob Brandt, whatever your favourite subject matter or medium you're bound to find loads to inspire you in this month's issue!