Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ponderings about Life Drawing

For the first time tonight, I went to a life drawing session at a local performing arts center... and found it much different than what I am used to. Usually, I go to a coffee shop or mall and do quick little 1-2 minute sketches, and these I do as memory sketches (ala Silver), where I capture a moment in time in my head and then draw it and create a nice little character sketch. This is especially fun at the mall where there is a kids' playground in the middle and trying to draw the little kids running around... you never get more than a few seconds to get that 'snapshot' in your brain. And it is lots of fun!

Tonight, I went to a regular kind of life drawing session and it was ... different, to say the least. The 2 minute poses were fine, I could draw from memory and get down the basic shape and gesture, and they came out smooth and fluid. But then we went to 10 and 20 minute poses and ... I don't know... they weren't as fun. Maybe because the poses weren't as natural, but it seems like my 2 minute memory sketches were a lot better in terms of their structure.

How about anyone else out there... how do you do you life drawing, if you do it at all? Do you prefer doing the quick memory sketches like at a coffee shop or mall, or do you prefer the studio atmosphere?

-- Brett


Jon Casey said...

I think I understand you completely
When you draw very quickly, or from short poses, or especially from a mental note of something seen, you improvise a lot of the "truth"
When drawing completely from memory, the "truth" of it is just a flash in your mind, left to interpret as you will.
When you draw from life, for an extended period of time, the memory aspect narrows to visual memory of just a few seconds, from looking at the model to looking at the paper
The truth becomes much less subjective, and every time you look up you see that real person, not a mental version. (The trend in the schoolism "school" of art would be to simplify, exaggerate, and cartoon the image slightly or heavily depending upon your style)
life drawing is never easy! But it is a great practice akin to scales for a composer. And when you see artists like the Russians, who spend years working in this vein, it becomes second nature to them.

Patrick LaMontagne said...

To be honest, the area where I'm weakest is doing quick sketches. It's something I'm trying to make a concerted effort to change, especially after reading things that Chiu and Silver said in their books I bought recently. Jason mentioned it regularly in the course as well. I attended a few life drawing classes here and to be honest, I didn't really like them, for the very reason you mentioned. I got bored. I know I'm supposed to get a lot out of that, but I didn't really. Coffee shop sketches always make me a little self conscious, as if the people I'm sketching are onto me. This is a ridiculous perception that I need to change, but I find it funny that my biggest challenge is sketching.

idragosani said...

Hey Jon and Patrick --

Thanks for the comments!

Yeah, when I was studying art in high school, I didn't do much in the way of life drawing, although occasionally used photos for reference. Now I am back to it, and yes the Schoolism "school" of art has me wanting to simplify and exaggerate, especially after taking Silver's class last Fall and now I am in Jason's class.

I will keep at it, though. It's a good skill to have. Oddly enough, I went out with some friends to the mall recently to some life drawings, and my friends were more used to the studio style, and drawing kids running around was difficult for them because they were used to the model standing still!

Steve Harpster said...

When I draw people at the mall they never stand still long enough and when I drawing at life drawing on Sunday's the poses are too long. Here's how I fixed both.

When drawing on the run I do some quicky sketches, but I also take a camera and take pics of people without them knowing. This doesn't work at the mall of course, but at the park you can make it look like your taking photos of trees or flowers when you're taking pics of people walking dogs. I also hate when people come over to watch me draw...I've always hated that for some reason, so I find that sitting in a parking lot at a mall where lots of people walk by your car is a good place to draw, and you can listen to your CD's loud too.

At life drawing classes just draw in one spot for a short while and then move to another spot and draw for a short while and if you get tired of that pose start drawing people in the class. People hunched over drawing on a pad of paper are actually fun to draw.