Thursday, 13 March 2008

Life Drawing

Here are some drawings that I have done at times when I was bored with the model. Drawing the nude figure is about learning to draw clothed people anyway.

I teach a life drawing class at our local high school, Waihi College. It is an evening class, a part of our local Community Education program and it is held in the drama room at the college. The drama room is a large space, carpeted, well heated and decorated with dozens of paper mache masks and other props and photos of drama students in all kinds of costumes, masks and makeup doing street theatre. It is a very creative atmosphere.

Aside from the various pieces of portable stage segments stacked here and there it is mostly an empty space where every Wednesday evening I trailer in a bunch of life drawing easels, large drawing boards and large sheets of various kinds of paper. For the first hour I set the model's pose and drawing exercises for the artists and then let the artists choose the model's pose and draw how they wish for the second hour. Here I get an opportunity to do some drawing myself if I am able to let go the reins and get into a drawing dream.

Maren, one of the life drawing students, said that she loved the zone she goes to while drawing the model, this is what I call the drawing dream. The class is very quiet with just the sibilant sound of chalk and pencil marking paper, if we don't have background music playing. After each pose I insist on every one, the model and the artists, moving around the room to look at what each artist has done. We all learn as much from this as from doing the various drawing exercises and for me this is a wonderful experience as every artist has their own unique signature style of drawing even when drawing the same pose in the same linear or tonal style.

The course fees are cheap, subsidized by the Education Ministry, but the models are not cheap as there are not many people who are comfortable with being naked in front of a dozen or so intently staring pairs of artists eyes and so we are happy to pay models well. Aside from the rarity of people who are comfortable with others seeing them naked, holding poses motionless for any length or time is physically demanding work.

We usually have some music playing during class but it has to be the right kind of music, to flow along with what Maren calls the zone and what I call the drawing dream.
Once during a life drawing class at my art school, years ago, we had a wonderfully buxom young lady model, a student of classical piano with masses of thick, long, wavy auburn hair. God! I love drawing hair, there is something so sensuous about following the lines and waves and tangled, shadowed curls while drawing hair......anyway our model had brought along to the class a tape of Liszt piano music which she put on the tape deck for us. There was something about this music that ruined my drawing dream, I don't know what it was, perhaps a sense of aggressive egotism to the music of Liszt, an intensity that was intrusive and drove me out of the class-- I could not work to it and to my surprise four or five of the other art students in the class followed me out, also unable to draw to the accompaniment of Liszt!

I liken life drawing to music practice. Like musicians we practice, practice, practice to get better and better at what we do but for artists the recorder is, so to speak, always on and some of the life drawings are truly beautiful works of art. Life drawings are immediate and drawn quickly and if not overworked and if they are drawn with freedom and assurance they have a freshness which demands a nice frame and a wall to hang them on.

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