Here’s me, finishing up a piece this very morning from last Tuesdays session. It was a very dynamic pose and I drew it from several angles, and therefore ran out of time during the session, and so finished up at home.
So I thought todays topic would be, Why Life Drawing? Or Why draw naked people?
Some people may look at my life drawings and think I have some particular love for figure drawing, but my real motivation is practice. There is no better way to learn to draw or improve drawing skills than to draw from life. The human body is a hard task master. You either get it right, or wrong. I know all to well that that sinking feeling I get when a ‘drawing goes south’ (usually five minutes in to a half-hour (or longer) pose). Without any outside input at all, there is plenty feedback for better or worse right before your eyes.
Life drawing hones hand-eye co-ordination, but it also produces or reveals that mysterious thing called ‘style’. Style is what makes your art look like no other persons art; style is like a signature or hand-writing, and just as in hand-writing, the faster you go, the less time you have to make text-book perfect letters.
In life-drawing, it is often the quickies that reveal your personal style. Time-constraints, whether they are one minute, five minute or one hour poses press you into getting things down fast and not fiddling with photographic perfection. You’ll learn how and when to take short cuts, and some of them may be beautiful, or not so much. It really doesn’t matter, as right or wrong, you are always learning something.
Things I’ve learned from life drawing:
My peculiar (I know it is) style.
I love coloured pencils more than paints, pastels, and charcoals.
To see negative space. (something that I’ve tried to deliberately to learn without success, but after years of Life Drawing Tuesdays, yep, I see them now)
Anatomy and proportion. (continuous improvement, and one can never know enough, and not just for humans, as it’s easy to see parallels and apply this knowledge to other living creatures)
To make a line on paper that matches up to the line in my minds eye (another on the continuous improvement list, as in, not there yet, but always getting closer to an unattainable goal)
And best yet, the ability to draw without a reference. This is something I struggled (and still struggle) to do all of my life, to draw from the imagination. There is nothing wrong with using a reference, doing research and finding a reference, but the more you can do without, the more freedom of expression you have. I’m finally getting somewhere with this.
Well, that’s my list for now. I’m sure there’s more. If you do life drawing, I’d love to hear your list.