The Expressive Figure: Facial Features, Hands, Feet and Drapery

We will demystify specific features and parts of the body that often challenge people when learning to draw. In addition to clearly articulating the underlying structure of facial features, hand gestures and clothing, we will look at how these are employed to convey a sense of emotional vitality in figurative art. Suitable for both complete beginners and for individuals with some prior experience in drawing.


  • Face-to-Face


  • The mass of the head and the ear: Address how the features of the face are integrated with and relate to the underlying structure of the head and neck. How the placement of the ear relates to the underlying position of the skull and how this can assist us with drawing the head from multiple angles.
  • The eye: The ball shape of the eye and how it structurally relates to the masses of the eye socket, brow, cheeks and sides of the face.
  • The mouth and the nose: Not only will the structure of the mouth be analysed but art historical portrait conventions that call for the mouth to be left slightly open, as if to suggest breathing or speech, will be examined.
  • The hand: The structure of the hand will be addressed, along with their rhetorical function in art.
  • The foot: We will look at how to simplify the underlying triangular wedge-shaped structure of the foot. In addition, we will see how to conceive of the structure of the foot from both the side and the front and from multiple angles.
  • Drapery: This class will look at the underlying structure of drapery folds. Historical examples will be examined to see a variety of ways in which clothing has been employed to enhance emotion or to influence the overarching composition of a work of art.
  • Drapery/Clothing: Each student will work with a small wooden mannequin. With images of drapery as a guide, students will dip pieces of cloth in plaster and arrange them over the mannequin, leaving the cloth to harden into the desired folds. The aim of this exercise is to create a drapery study that can then be copied from multiple angles over the ensuing weeks.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Have gained a basic understanding of the underlying structure of facial features, hands, feet and drapery.
  2. Know how facial expression, hand gesture and clothing can be employed to suggest human emotions and the overarching narrative and mood of a figure(s) within a work of art.
  3. Better comprehend the artificial nature of artistic invention, within both the context of facial / bodily gesture and the construction of a draped mannequin.


  • Sanguine red chalk pencil (oil based)
  • A3 sketch book.
  • Kneadable eraser.
  • Razor blade for sharpening chalk pencils
  • Two metal bulldog clips.

IMPORTANT: Please arrive to the first class with all the relevant materials. A lack of materials is not just a handicap to you but to the ability to teach. Materials cost is not included in a course fee. In the event of a course being cancelled WEA cannot be held responsible for the purchase of any course materials. We therefore suggest you purchase your materials closer to the time of the course commencing.


  • The Art Scene, UNSW Art & Design Campus, Greens Rd Paddington NSW. Ph: 8815 1569
  • Eckersley’s Art and Craft Store 223-225 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Ph: 02 9331 2166.
  • Bondi Road Art Supplies 179 Bondi Road Bondi. Ph: 9387 3746. (Closed Fridays and Sundays)
  • Eckersley’s Art and Craft Store 93 York Street Sydney, Ph: 02 9299 4151. Also at North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood, Caringbah, Parramatta & more.

Enquire at your art shop for a Student’s Discount with your WEA course receipt.

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