Capturing the Pose to Sketch, Draw, and Paint

Graphite study for watercolor painting: Pappy’s Break

Beware ye that visit me! Ye may become immortalized in my drawings, sketches, and paintings-R.D.Burton

I have a camera, and I am often my own model-R.D. Burton

photo of artist
Photo of artist, Richard D. Burton, posing for watercolor painting: Pappy’s Break”

In a former blog, I mentioned that I was the model for the man reading the newspaper in my painting, “Pappy’s Break”.


I’d just come back from vacationing in Florida, which included the city of Miami. One morning I got up early and went for a walk, and I came across a street scene with all types of booths with different vendors selling all types of foods, fruits, plants, and products. It inspired me to create the painting.

Pappy's Break: Watercolor-R.D.Burton
Pappy’s Break: Watercolor-R.D.Burton
Segment of "Pappy's Break"
Segment of “Pappy’s Break”

My wife often models for me, and  when she does all I’m interested in is a certain stance and body language.

Most poses are not like the one in “Pappy’s Break,” depicting the way she looks. For example, recently she posed for a couple of graphite drawings for the graphic novel on which I’m working.

My timing is usually off when I ask her to model for me. She isn’t prepared to do it, because it usually surprises her with no heads up. Not to long ago, she tried to refuse when I asked her to pose. I insisted…and insisted, and she finally agreed, but not without a threat, promising very bad things could happen to me if I showed her picture to anyone.  The posing I had in mind was perfect for me because she had just finished showering, had a towel wrapped around her head, and was dressed only in a robe…no make up, yet. Perfect! All I wanted was the pose and stance.

“They were the best of friends, playing together, laughing, cuttin’ up ever so…I thinks they fell in love when little bitties.” -Granny Weena

She modeled for the drawing of the maid who had brought her little son with her to play with the plantation owners daughter. I took several different snap shots before settling with this pose. Wearing the robe, and with the towel wrapped around her head, she was exactly what I needed.

model posing
Wife posing for drawing…holding up a large flashlight

On the right is a portion of a picture of her holding up a large flashlight representing an old kerosene lantern. Again, I cannot show all of the picture short of losing some portion of myself. She would not stand for it, and I can’t afford to lose my second favorite model for my drawings, sketches, and paintings. She would never pose again.

Eleven years old Willa Mae now understood the adults told little white lies. What the animals were doing was not playing, they were making life.


To the left is the drawing using my wife as model posing holding up a flashlight (lantern).

graphite drawing
She shot him in the left butt cheek with thirteen gauge buck-shot!

Guess who posed for the character running away from his daughter who is pointing the shotgun at him. (right)

If you guessed it is me, then you got it correct. Often, I am my own model, and I believe many artists are the same. We are our own best models. Sometimes we’re not so interested in depicting the character to look like us as much as having some reference to catch the accuracy, especially the fore shortening. I have modeled many times for myself as different genders and different races.

Artist posing for graphic drawing
Posing for old man Pearson running away from his drawing.

Often as not, I’m wearing pajamas when I am posing. The reason is because I wake up with the drawing I’ve planned on my mind. I generally grab the camera, my wife, and we go to a place we can get the best stance to match the picture I need. To the right, I’m leaning over the couch (unseen) to give me the off balance look for the drawing above.

One of the main characters in the graphic story on which I’m working (narrated slide show movie-The Curse of St. Croix {The Prologue}) is Granny Weena; and yes, I sometimes pose for granny Weena, a little black person. Here’s a couple of examples:

posing for Granny Weena
posing for Granny Weena
Artist posing for drawing
Artist posing for drawing


Keep in mind, all I am after here is the hands. Fortunately, I got more. I was concentrating on the passionate prose of the story when the camera picked up some of the expression. I liked it.


Granny Weena: Graphite


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