Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Life drawings - quick poses

I've been better at attending life drawing workshops recently, after months of very sporadic drawing. I find it makes a big difference if I keep in practice. I am typically a fairly fast drawer, which is useful for big classes, or spotting something interesting on the move.

I thought I might explain what happens at a life class/workshop/session for those who have not tried them, also what the point is.

I go to a workshop which runs monthly in my city. There is no teaching, which is fine for me as I have been drawing on and off for years. Total newcomers would probably find a class more useful, although this particular space does its best to accommodate beginners and the other participants give them tips.

This series of sketches are from the warm-up session first thing in the morning.
Most classes or workshops will start with a few short poses, each one anything from five to ten minutes. This is both to help the model to warm up and get flexible, and to help the artists get used to drawing.

You'd typically draw these with charcoal or some other medium which flows easily and isn't too "tight". You don't bother rubbing out your mistakes, or measuring anything - there isn't time.

Models typically do keep still for all that time - up to 45 minutes at a time for long poses. For a painting class, they might be keeping the same pose for many hours with a series of short breaks in between. I would be useless at that! Many models are also dancers or actors, or do yoga or martial arts, so they are well aware of their bodies and what they can and can't do.

The question some of my US relatives ask is, "Why naked people?"
Historically narrative paintings were the most esteemed, so anyone who was anyone as a painter needed to be able to create convincing people. It's easier to understand the structure of a person without clothes on top, especially at first. People are also really hard to draw or paint: a tree with a branch slightly wrong often looks OK, a person with an arm drawn out of scale looks very obviously incorrect. Once you get over the frustration of looking down at your paper to find yet another Frankenstein's monster, you learn quickly from your mistakes.

Today many artists, even people who never paint figures, or are purely abstract artists, still value what they learn from this discipline.

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