Oh dear, no model…

Life Drawing at the Midland Art Group was looking a bit unpromising last night. We usually start at around 7pm but the model was late and it was a smaller turnout too. Probably due to school holidays and the particularly horrible ‘flu that’s going around. Not to worry, it just meant there would be plenty of room – some weeks it’s so busy we work two deep with some artists with sketchbooks and drawing boards sitting in front of those standing with easels. Waiting, waiting. Anyway, come 7.10pm and still no model. Ben, who runs the group is on the phone and finally makes contact only to find that she too has taken ill. Oh no. He was looking really worried. You see around Perth there’s another life group somewhere, run by someone called Gary. Now I don’t know who Gary is, but rumour has it that in that group a no show model has Gary taking on the role himself. Ben is on the phone, armed with a list of numbers trying very, very hard to find another model. “Motivated” would be a good description…

Persistence paid off when a he managed to contact a girl, via a referral, who just happened to be at the video store, a mere three minutes away… A sigh of relief from a very grateful group of artists, led by an even more grateful co-ordinator.

Meanwhile, everyone else had been sitting around sipping wine and coffee, relaxing and actually enjoying getting to know one another rather than sweating over hot charcoal as we usually do. Life drawing is serious work for most of us. Does one ever get good enough to have fun rather than just tense concentration? It’s exhausting work.

Life drawing – a struggle

Life drawing portrait sketch

Life drawing portrait sketch

This week’s effort at life drawing group showed little improvement in my figures but yet again an acceptable portrait sketch. I even managed a likeness. Obviously I have no photo to show to prove that since cameras are a no-no. You’ll have to take my word for it.

I have to wonder about this, why faces are fine but I still struggle with everything else. I’ve drawn more faces. Maybe. I’ve certainly seen more faces than unclothed bodies. Absolutely. Measuring. Anatomy study – or the lack thereof. I really do think that is where the problem lies.

I’ve read and copied the drawings in Bridgman’s Life Drawing. I started working through Loomis’ Figure Drawing for all it’s Worth during the last holiday break. I should finish that. I also have Stephen Peck’s Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist on the shelf. Maybe I need to read it again? The truth is the books don’t seem to be helping that much.

Thinking about it, I realise that I’ve never actually had any instruction in anatomy or drawing for that matter. Yes I’ve been in art college for two years. Drawing though isn’t actually taught. We have a class called Formal Drawing which entails a still life, or on three occasions per semester a model, and we just draw. No instruction.

We were encouraged to buy a book on anatomy. With no suggested title, I (in my utter ignorance) looking over the offerings at Borders chose Dynamic Anatomy by Burne Hogarth. Big mistake. It has inspiring drawings but no instruction. It’s much too stylised for a beginner. The teacher wasn’t offering any praise for my choice, but still no indication as to what would be better. How would I know? I wasn’t even sure how to use it. Copy the drawings?

Under guidance from internet friends (who really can draw…) I did eventually end up with the Stephen Peck book, which is the one to get. Plus during this past year I have bought or borrowed Bridgman, Loomis, Vanderpoel and absolutely everything from the library on the topic. And for the most part read them carefully. And copied the drawings. Something is still not sinking in. What to do? More books isn’t the answer.

Maybe I need to find a teacher. When? I’m already studying full time, spending 16 hours a week commuting, caring for a couple of kids and a small farm. What do I do?