On the second day of the workshop, we got down to the serious business of painting figures using burnt umber and white. I learned something very important that day-- I tended to smooth things out on my figure studies, which made them boring! Jeff suggested that I paint abstract shapes in different directions on the model to make them interesting to look at.
And here's a reason that figure studies are difficult. You have to understand the anatomy underneath it all and build out from there. Here is an example of how Jeff starts a figure study.
He plots the skeleton and major muscle structures before he begins to paint. Taking the time to study anatomy is well worth the effort when painting figures and portraits. He showed us an App that he uses called "Visible Body" which shows the skeleton and muscle groups from every layer and angle. It even shows the muscles in motion. I hope that I'll have the discipline to delve into this and stick with it!