I have a
painter-friend who is gearing up to do a major work with figures, but she feels
a bit rusty about painting a model in all his or her glory. To help prepare
herself, she's set up a series of life-drawing sessions so that she can spend a
bit of time drawing models before tackling her actual subject. I thought it was
a really good idea, but I was super intimidated when she brought up the idea of
me coming along and drawing, even though there will be several other people
there sketching as well.
||Figure drawing by Degas.
that I am
going to go, because I
should go, and I have always liked life drawing models
once I'm doing it. I
just build up the tension in my head beforehand for whatever reason.
This time, I'm
going in with a game plan that includes sticking to three life drawing tips,
and here they are:
Start with the
gesture. I always feel my eyes bulge out and careen crazily back and forth when
I get in front of a model, like I need to catch every nuance or else utter
failure is assured. Not true. I plan to step back, take a deep breath, and
start with capturing the gesture of the model, the full-body pose, before doing
anything else in my sketchbook.
Another of my
life-drawing lessons is to focus on proportion. If I can get the head to be the
correct size relative to the torso, arms, and legs, then I will know that I am
in pretty good shape.
I also plan
not to sink into the quicksand of adding too much detail too soon. In my first
session, all I want to do is put down simple lines and a basic application of
light and shadow on the form. I don't need to go much beyond that, and if I
find myself reaching for those finer details I hope a little alarm will go off
in my head. Then I'll know to go back and check my proportions, because I bet
there is something I am skimming over.
For more life-drawing
lessons that will give you a strong sense of what to look for when you have a
live model in front of you, look into the guide, Life Drawing: How to Portray the Figure with Accuracy and Expression. It is focused solely
on life drawing and includes comprehensive art instruction on the subject.