• On Figure Drawing

by David Latham McSween May 14, 2019

Figura n.1917 - David McSween - Figure Drawing in charcoal
Observing The Human Form
When creating artwork, but especially in figure drawing, the process comes down to making one decision after another, and in figure drawing the more deliberate the decision, the better. In a piece like this one, the artist has to quickly decide how they are going to handle elements like the background and foreground. Since the light is falling on the back of the model softly, it can be challenging to know how to handle the darkened room the surrounds the model. I solved this by creating a dark mass of tone to the right but didn't carry it through to the other side of the figure because I didn't want the composition to become overwhelmed by darker values.
Figura n.191 - Figure Drawing by David McSween - Charcoal on Paper
Knowing What's Important

Creating visual interest in a figure drawing often relies on creating, enhancing, or balancing the contrast between different elements of design like soft and hard edges, high and low contrast, and straight and curved lines. In this a piece like this one, I was able to build on these contrasting elements of design to create, what I feel, is a cohesive drawing that has a lot of exciting places for the viewer's eye to explore. Most figure drawings are comprised of singular subject matter, the model posing, so developing these areas of interest can be more challenging, but this is where good design makes all the difference.

Figura n.1911 - Figure Drawing by David McSween - Charcoal on paper
Working The Whole Composition

Intersecting lines that describe the form in a figure drawing tend to help an artist give the viewer a sense of depth, what parts of the pose are coming in front of each other and which are receding toward the background. In this piece, it became essential to me, to break open these lines so I could maintain an overall sense of the light falling on the form. By sacrificing these clear lines for more suggestive ones, I'm able to get the whole composition working together and this, I believe, adds to the aesthetic appeal.

Until next time, keep painting and please feel free to leave questions or feedback in the comments section below, and I'll try my best to get back to you within a day.

Best Regards,

David McSween

David Latham McSween
David Latham McSween


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Important Information And Purchasing Details

LIMITED EDITION PRINTS | The term "limited" applies to fine art prints that are created in limited quantities. The lower the number of copies, the higher the value will be. I've chosen to limit my prints to editions of 150 because I can offer them at a good value but not over-saturate the market with my pieces. If a print is not available at the size you're looking for, then consider options like buying a different size of the same piece, waiting for a new similar size print to be released, or commission a painting similar to the one you're interested in. 

PRINT SIZES | The majority of limited edition prints on my website are sized based on standard popular frame sizes. I recommend framing your prints with a matte and these sizes allow you to purchase standard frames with pre-cut mattes that can be found at most framing retailers. If you have questions or concerns about framing, please use the contact form to get in touch with me. Please see the table below for examples of what frame size to buy for my most common print sizes:

 PRINT SIZE FRAME SIZE (with precut matte)
8"x10" 11"x14"
11"x14" 16"x20"
16"x20" 18"x24"

PRINT AND ARTWORK PRICING | I price my work using several different factors which include but aren't limited to the size of the piece, the time and materials used, what comparable artworks have sold for, changes in the market, an increase in notoriety, and my subjective valuation of the piece. Please refer to the 2019 pricing tiers below more information:


PRINT SIZE 2019 PRICING (before sales tax) w/SHIPPING (estimated, before sales tax)
5"x7 $15.00 $30.00
6"x9" $16.00 $31.00
8"x10" $18.00 $33.00
9"x12" $24.00 $39.00
11"x14" $36.00 $51.00
16"x20" $76.00 $91.00


Small The longest edge is smaller than 10" $225 - $250
Medium The longest edge is smaller than 20" $375 - $400
Large The longest edge is smaller than 36" $550 - $600
Extra Large The longest edge is larger than 36" $1,110 - $1,200


Small The longest edge is smaller than 10" $100 - $125
Medium The longest edge is smaller than 20" $150 - $175
Large The longest edge is smaller than 36" $175 - $200
Extra Large The longest edge is larger than 36" $600 - $675

PRINT QUALITY | I've sampled dozens of different print manufacturers, and I believe I've found the premiere printer to partner with in making my limited edition prints. My printing partner has decades of experience printing high-quality fine art prints. Their company does not print merchandise or promotional products, and they're focused on delivering the highest quality prints for collectors and galleries who want archival museum level prints for their walls.

A PRINT VS. AN ORIGINAL |  A great deal of time and effort goes into preparing artwork to be processed for printing, but a print will never have the same value depth and color saturation as the original. Some artworks may be adjusted to ensure the best print quality possible, so minor differences will be apparent in a strict comparison to the original. You can be assured that the print you receive is approved personally by me as the best representation of the original in printed form. If you are not happy with your print or have questions about its quality, please contact me using the form on the Contact page or email orders@mcsween.art.

SHIPPING | The cost to ship originals and prints is calculated at checkout, and so it varies depending on what you're purchasing and where it's going to go. The price you are charged includes the shipping materials and handling. If you have any questions or concerns with shipping, please contact me using the form on the Contact page or by sending an email with your question and contact information to orders@mcsween.art