Life Drawing for its own sake

Yesterday I attended a Life Drawing class in Papcastle, and the unusual thing was that I was there as a “drawer” only, rather than a tutor. I have been teaching Life Drawing since 2004 and thoroughly enjoy it but the opportunity to draw and specifically not teach was one of the reasons I decided to play with my Inktense pencils on Bristol paper.

Also, I have struggling with my eyesight whilst life drawing in recent months (the deteriorating aspects of no longer being 25!) and it would also give me a chance to “focus” on how to tackle that.
Things like the cheap glasses, working on A1/ A2 at an easel, plus having a tutoring head on have been factors possibly in some drawings I haven’t been happy with.
So, out with the prescription glasses and a smaller scale to draw on, plus time and space to work through the actual process of looking, seeing (as opposed to simply looking, which is quite different I think to the more intellectual process of understanding and applying knowledge aspects of “seeing”) and then representing on a 2D surface – with all the attendant challenges of the qualities of the drawing material.

Life Drawing is a particular challenge to all of us who draw – and is probably the ultimate exercise. It takes no prisoners and is probably the most difficult discipline – and discipline it is. But you learn the most from Life Drawing, and I think improvement is also very visible, although its easy to lose the finer aspects and skills if you don’t go regularly. It’s the same for me with drawing horses from life. Once you “know” a form, shape, set of line and movements in your head, then it is easy to fall back onto that knowledge and not actually draw what you see, but what you know. All very left-brained stuff, which try and pure drawing wants to avoid.

I think by the fourth drawing I was beginning to “get my eye in” (I do like that phrase, it always conjures up pictures of an artist being like the one-eyed Ragetti in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, only say, getting one’s eye out of an art box and then popping it into one’s socket!) and despite some brilliant but challenging poses felt more “in the zone”(!) as the morning progressed.

I even “got messy” with a portrait, but that was because I was practising what I preach :-/ and the Inktense sticks were, pretty intense once you added water. Having drawn an ear in the wrong place, the only way I could rectify it was to add water resulting in a deep dark shadowed area, which I quite liked!
(Pictures up later)

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