Thursday, October 1, 2009

Life Drawing class

Well, I didn't hear any great outcry that nude figure studies would offend you all, so I figure my day job is fair game to talk about here.

The classes all tend to start the same way. The teacher will have me do a series of one to three minute 'gesture' poses. This set was all two minute poses. I'll put on some upbeat instrumental music, and have at it. The students leave behind the worries of the day, and the charcoal (or pencil or sharpies or ink brushes or...) begins to fly across the page. This is a great warm up, and gets them used to grabbing the intent of the whole pose without over thinking it. I think these are my favorite to do. It challenges me to come up with a whole series of interesting poses, and since they are only a couple of minutes long I can hold positions that would leave me in the ER if I tried them for half an hour or so. (Like that one in the lower left. I am so not doing a back bend over a stool for longer than 5 minutes!)

Then we move into the lesson for the day. This week, the teachers were doing half hour to hour long poses, and the subject was light and shadow. This first one was a half hour pose. This is obviously a working drawing, but it gives great insight into the thought process behind trying to catch the drawing. In addition to the more finished figure, you can see how she pulled out an outline of the figure to check proportions, and sketched a couple of body parts to get the right angles and lighting.

This was the second pose for that class, and was about 45 minutes long. The assignment was to map out the positions of the shadows on the body, and then place them in with directional lines. They'll work up to rendering later. This assignment was line work only. I love how she worked both on and off the form to get the lighting.

Same topic, different teacher, different approach. This was an hour long pose (with a break at the half hour mark). I recycled the pose from the other class, since it seemed to work well. This teacher had the students pull out black or dark colored paper, and had them use a white pencil or white conte crayon only. The students had to draw in the lights, and leave the paper to be the shadow. Boy, did this throw folks for a loop! We are so used to working on white paper and drawing in the dark parts, that this messed with their brains. But, it forced them to really look at what they were doing, instead of sticking with what they 'knew' things ought to look like. Great exercise!


  1. I was always in awe of the models posing when I was taking drawing classes. I could never hold a pose let alone dis-robe but we artists truly appreciate that you do that! Thanks, regards, T.

  2. I actually took the class a couple of times, so I had an idea of what I was getting in to. Still, disrobing those first couple of times were a challenge. I kept telling myself that I was just a really funny shaped bowl of flowers for a still life. :)

  3. Wow - really impressive.

    You are brave. And you have real woman curves. Horray!

    That 2nd to last drawing is my fave.

  4. Thanks, DJ. :) It did take some psyching myself up the first couple of times I modeled. I've got the curves of a middle aged housewife that has given birth to two children--not so much a sweet young stick any more! But I knew from taking the class that once the artists get going, they aren't looking at you as a person or judging attractiveness any more. They're just trying to figure out why the dang belly button is off center, and how the angle of the ankle fits into the calf, and how on earth they're going to draw all those fingers, and...

    By this time of the semester, they're getting quite good, aren't they? It is amazing the progress from the beginning to the end of the class!

  5. Melissa, you are brave and beautiful!! :)

  6. Thanks, Aunt Nancy. :) I modeled again last night for the evening class, and enjoyed the sketches that came out of the session. A good artist can make anyone feel gorgeous, I think.