Life Drawing

*****Please note *******- there are some drawings at the bottom of this post that may be deemed as not work safe; as they are charcoal drawings of the female nude, done in life drawing course. So please don’t read this post if you’re at work and you think it might not be acceptable.

Why the female nude as art ever be seen as ‘rude’ is a totally nother thing that is beyond me, but anyway.

So! In 2002 I did a life drawing course. It was two 5 hour sessions, held at Monash Uni (which is both close, familiar, and very good value in it’s short courses, I’ve done many there since the early 1990s), and we had a different female model for each day.

The course was the first time I’d ever been forced to sit down and draw exactly what was in front of me. I can draw stuff in my head easily, and i liked to draw faces and bodies – but this was the first time I sat and observed and drew what I observed.

Here are my results:

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This was a seated nude, one of the first pictures I  did. I’ve got some of the proportions wrong and getting the hands to not look like spaghetti was hard, I’m not sure I entirely succeeded. This was an easy enough pose to draw as it was quite linear. I ran out of room of course, you start drawing big and bits fall off the page.

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10 quick poses, 2 minutes each to get them down. This bit was fun. This was at the very end of the second day but I chose to put it higher on this post cause most of the rest have nipplage and thus I’m trying to protect anyone’s screen from opening directly onto them. 🙂

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Some more complicated poses, trying to get the poses down quickly.  I like the quick set poses. You try and scribble down the idea, the feeling, of how someone is standing and then fill in the details with swooshes of charcoal.

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Coloring in the white background in charcoal, and then using the squashy erasers to rub out the lighted parts of the flesh. You get a sense of shadows really well defined this way.  Little things like the light bit on her left under arm are harder to show in a quick drawing. all the detail in this picture comes just from removing the darks. I’d forgotten i did this, I should think of a way to use it in my painting. hrm.

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“Morgue Pose”. Model was just lying flat. The point of this one was to get how the face/neck/position of the ears appears from a very different angle. The models’ neck and chin are effectively not there and yet you can see she has them.

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For-shortening pose. The size difference between the head and the feet is huge if viewed from this angle. The instructor also showed me how to block in the entire hand first and then to the fingers in afterwards, in order to get the proportion right. The tendency to focus on the details without getting the overall topdown picture right, is not just something i suffer from.

and finally:

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Quite a convoluted pose that resembles no other human I had drawn to this point. Doing pictures like this makes one see that a human is not two arms, two legs, a torso, etc. They may appear to have no neck, no legs or limbs, and be contorted in various ways, and yet still be very human.

In conclusion: this course taught me how to use charcoal, how to start to learn to draw what i see, and that humans are really giant bags of moisture filled sacks that follow some rules but never the ones you expect them to, visually. I came out of this 10 hours with way more confidence in drawing people and bodies and I learned that I’m really good at trying to draw what I think should be there, not what is there. There were a lot of erasures during this course!