Life drawing is amazing, and an intense crash course that hones your observation and drafting skills.
For the uninitiated, it’s about a two to three hour session where you draw models who will pose for varying lengths of time.
Usually, you start a session with gesture poses, where a model will hold a position from anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute.
These quick poses force your eye to eliminate everything but the most important parts of the pose. Light and shade are virtually non-concepts at this stage. You’re just after the gesture. The beauty is that you can’t over think things and let your eye and hand take over.
Typically, you’ll follow with longer poses that can last up to a half hour, allowing the artist to really develop the subtle changes in light and texture. You’re really not tied down by and rules or conventions in these settings, you’re really just teaching yourself to view critically and make visual decisions for your own drawing.
Some go after drama in the angles and shapes they see, some are fascinated by the negative shapes, and some choose to do details of hands, feet or portraits. It’s up to you, the artist.
Another beauty of this exercise is that you’re not tied to any particular medium. Most of the people in life class work in pencil, charcoal or conté crayon, but there is nothing preventing an artist from using pastel, watercolor or even oils.
What is amazing after a session is comparing drawings. It serves to highlight how individual our visions are. In this setting, there is no right or wrong, it’s really an expression of what that artist sees and sets down on paper from their position in the room.
It’s their reality for that moment.
Life drawing is a really tremendous exercise that will help an artist’s drawing go to the next level.