Been meaning to do this for a while – show a couple of recent drawings and compare them with some from a year or more ago. Also want to talk a bit about why I still think life drawing is important. Drawing from life is, for me, an exercise in getting better at drawing. Accuracy isn’t everything of course – expressiveness matters too – but in this case I believe correct comes before creative.
Back at the cliff face I can always adapt or abandon when the absolute doesn’t suit my purposes. It’s about having that choice. The improvement filters through to all my drawing but the figure is good exercise because the human eye is so attuned to the human body that we can see inaccuracies immediately. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean we know how to fix them…
Getting a drawing right and knowing how to patch it up when it’s not, are skills that are learned like any other: from study and practice. Sorry, there’s no other way. On the study side I’ve paid a lot of attention to both anatomy and perspective, considering them the basic tools. These I gathered from classes, video and books, all of which have their place. Video and books suit me better than classes because I can go back over the material as often as I need to in order to retain what I’m learning. Or go back to when practice has me seeing better and asking different questions – things I probably glossed over as too difficult or too subtle on earlier readings.
The practice side of the equation is simply a matter of turning up and trying my best. I’ll admit that just getting there is hard to do, especially in the midst of winter. It’s amazing how small the gathering is when it’s cold or rainy. Noticeable that it’s always the same faces then, week after week…
Equally difficult is staying the course of the evening. Those last poses are tough when my feet are sore from standing, my lower back aches (don’t know why with that one) and I’m tired from the concentration. Even then, however, I’ll resist the urge to grab a chair because I know I really need to be able to step back from the easel to be able to see what I’m doing. Strangely enough, my best drawing is usually that last one. Even if I am physically a bit miserable my brain seems to have warmed up. Or maybe my left brain is so tuned into the discomfort, my right brain can get at the task without interruption!
Still got a way to go, of course, but that’s why I’ll be there on Wednesday night. If you’re up for it we meet at the old Mechanics Hall in Guildford, chipping in $10 to pay the model and the wine. We start at 6.30pm. See you there.