Things don’t get easier without hard work. That’s why I’ve been working -I took up life drawing about 6 weeks ago and it’s been a great way to improve my seeing and drawing. I thought about why quite a lot and made a list of reasons I’ve been learning so much.
When a 5 minute pose is over, the next one starts. You know what’s coming and you can usually avoid overworking a drawing, although I’m still learning when to stop on a 40 minute pose.
At a life drawing group, there are a bunch of like-minded individuals wrestling with figures, drawing implements and paper. You get to bounce ideas of each other, see how others approach and learn from them. People are supportive and interested; their Enthusiasm is contagious.
The group I’ve been going to meets twice a week. I found it easy to make a commitment to show up, and once I do that I have no choice spend a couple of hours hard drawing. Community helps with this too – the friends I have made now expect to see me there.
Lack of decision
Life drawing removes the entry barrier to drawing. There’s no more “what should I draw?”. It’s much easier for me to wander the streets looking for the perfect scene than to commit to a spot and make art. In the studio you sit down, shut up and draw.
Working at figures pays off – drawing people in scenes becomes less of an issue and the skills translate to other aspects of drawing. The human body is full of seemingly featureless curves. It’s hard to follow these exactly with your eyes and pen, but doing it over and over again improves my seeing and drawing. There are endless varieties of light and shade on the curved surface of the model. Focusing on those shadows has made me more aware of the shadows elsewhere.
Extending my comfort zone
For me, getting out of the bubble in which I usually live is one of the fastest ways to grow. I found the first time at life drawing a bit scary – I was nervous, uncomfortable and unsure of myself. After attending half a dozen times it’s much easier.
I encourage all artists to give life drawing a go – even if they feel like they have no idea what they are doing. I have certainly learned a lot from it and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.