Venue: Frankston Chisholm
Tutor: Bill Hay
The value of life drawing can not be understated. Not only as a tool for learning observational skills, and the understanding of the human body, but also for the general improvement of drawing skills for any subject.
There are those around today that say that you don’t need to be able to draw to paint. This type of thinking is flawed and there are examples I can cite to prove my statement. Not only do art tutors with many years experience disagree with this concept, but in practice and by historic examples, it is a necessary and basic skill.
(NOTE: Drawings of nude female figures follow in this article)
Many famous artists, even if they didn’t have formal art education, spent many hours observing and drawing. From these basic skills they were able to expand their style and method of painting to the examples of their work that we see in galleries today. A prime example is Picasso, whose drafting skills were honed during years of practice.
I have been fortunate enough to attend life drawing classes and sessions for over five years on and off, and have kept a lot of my work. It has been very satisfying to see how much I have improved over these years and how this understanding has improved my ability to sketch plein air for my paintings. A body is, after all, a series of shapes. What is different is that it moves, sometimes subtly, so you need to really look and start to understand how to interpret the line, shadows and tones you are seeing. After these skills start to become embedded, you see other subjects more clearly and are able to interpret them far more quickly and with a method that reflects your way of seeing the world.
At present, I am also attending portrait painting workshops each month and am working on combining the skills from drawing to my application of paint and ability to really see my sitter. It is at the painting workshop that I am learning to put my own interpretation to my subject, based on my new skills in life drawing.
Each basic skill builds on the other. This is how an artist can continue to improve and build their own unique look for their work. Not based on starting a painting and hoping for the best, or reworking in the hopes of a successful result, and not from a false premise of underlying skills being of no importance, but from a place of patient learning and building up of competencies.
Samples from this week’s session below (10 minute sketches, charcoal on A2 paper):