Last week I took my first ever Live Figure Drawing class. Well, it wasn’t so much a class as a session. The model was there, artists were there, and we sketched away without instruction.
Going into this experience at the Mansfield Art Center, I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect. A nude person. Charcoal. Fast sketches.
Beforehand, I asked for input & tips from others who had either taken a live drawing class or modeled for one. Some quoted tidbits:
- “I love doing live figure drawing!! My advice is to just let go. They change up the times for each pose. Sometimes you might only get 1 minute to sketch. Sometimes 20. It’s incredible brain training.” ~Andrea Wittmer
- “Naked people make me nervous. Probably post-tramatic-commune-living-disorder.” ~Tim Gorka
- “Loosen up with quick 20 second sketches done with something unerasable like a Sharpie, go for capturing gesture with long lines first, then horizontal lines for shoulders and hips (capture how the angles look, the way the weight is carried) avoid a quest for likeness perfection in the beginning. As you get more comfortable with the process and executing the basics quickly you can build on more detail as time allows. Life drawing was my favorite in art school.” ~Rhiann Wynn-Nolet
- “I modeled for 10 plus years and rather enjoyed it. I was always amazed at what was created.” ~Bryan Gladden
- “Life drawing really helped me in understanding anatomy. Body parts are larger than I thought. Like heads, the shoulders, torso, feet. And men are more challenging. As for the nudity, the first time was a little adjustment, but then it was no biggie. I’d try charcoals to start with because they can be wonderfully goof-proof and make great shadows. And have fun! Now I want to go.” ~Anniston Jory
So the model posed. I sketched. The 2 hours went by quickly. I ended up with maybe 7 sheets of varying sized paper with 1 – 12 figures slapped all over them.
Afterwords, a few of us did an informal show-and-tell of what we created. The model peeked over our shoulders. For one piece, I added green & blue pastel to match her real-life hair. She loved that one.
I signed it, snapped the pic below, and gave it to her. It was the first time she’d ever received one of the sketches from any of her modeling.
Once home, I looked back through my work from the evening. Some parts of some sketches were pretty okay for an initial attempt. Other parts were downright horrible, off, screaming with their bad proportions, lack of model likeness, room for improvement. But that’s why I need the sessions.
As I do, I started thinking: “Hmmm… what if I push these ‘throwaway’ sketches a bit further? Develop them into finished pieces? Add to the composition with acrylic?”
So that’s what I did. I further challenged myself to make these pieces feel current but also like they could’ve been created in the 1960’s or 100 years ago. Kind of a non-vintage vintage feel. For my palette, I chose muted colors that would help convey this.
Three of these reworkings are now signed & framed.
This was session 1 of 4. I’m hoping to see personal progress by the end. After each session, I’m gonna work at least one of the sketches into a “finished” piece.
And, I reckon, soon I’ll be able to offer input/tips for another artist giving Live Figure Drawing a shot for the first time. My first tip: just go for it.