My first life drawing session!

life drawing session 1

My first time at a life drawing class. The model was a petite German lady called Bianka, an experienced artist’s model and a sunny, well-travelled, intelligent pixie. Of course it doesn’t matter how petite and trim a model is, when I draw a woman, she puts on 15 kilos just because, well, that’s how I feel about the pose. I am drawing on what I know, and the drawing is not Bianka, nor is it me, but a hybrid third of all those involved. Heh.

Worked with soft and hard chalks. Some pencil for the last drawings, because I was getting tired and knew that my “zone” moment had passed (but I was thrilled that, at some point, I found myself ‘in the zone’, if only for a brief 20 minutes or so) There are some tiny areas in these drawings that I’m happy with…I’m talking about a few inches here or there. On the whole, though, these are learning drawings, and of no value in themselves.

life drawing session 1

I threw most of the drawings away when I got home (and one of the better ones was picked up by the wind and whisked into the water…can’t even remember what it looked like, really, I never got a good look at it.) Only kept a few for these photographs, but will probably end up throwing all (but one) away, after I post this. It’s a tactic to keep me attending the drawing sessions: don’t get precious, don’t ‘collect’, don’t get smug, don’t keep anything…it’s the doing that has value, the finished drawings are nothing.

life drawing session 1

I am so happy I worked up the nerve to go. It was absolutely worth it. The thing I loved the most? The connection, immediate and visceral, that I felt because mind and cleverness were not involved. None of that “start by drawing an egg shape for the head” bullshit. Bianka=eye=heart=hand=drawing. Simple and powerful. There is sooo much work to be done. I hope I can keep the sessions up…to get good at anything, you have to be ready to commit to years of practice.

The Darwin Life Drawing sessions are presented by Shilo McNamee, with the support of the Darwin Visual Arts Association (DVAA). They are held Sunday mornings (check the website or their facebook page to be sure, though, and to tell Shilo you’re coming) at the Winnellie Art Space, 96-a Winnellie Road (next to the large Darwin Bakery/factory)

life drawing session 1

life drawing session 1
life drawing session 1

life drawing session 1

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17 thoughts on “My first life drawing session!

    1. Thanks, Jason! I’m still not sure what I’m looking for, or when it works, not sure what I did and how to do it more often! But yes, I like the little quirky bits in the pencil drawing…it does feel looser than the rest, towards the end of the session, I must’ve finally stopped trying so hoard. 😉 I think maybe it would help to have a few drinks when I go to these things. :\

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  1. I like that hand on the right in the first photo (a lot of “handness” as my college art-instructor would have said). I also like the weight that you give to the figures (not the body weight, but the visual weight), like with the smudging and (I assume) pre-marking shade.

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    1. Thank you. I really enjoyed trying to get different marks from the chalks I was using, including swiping at the lines with a baby wipe 🙂 and yes, I tried pre-marking, trying to capture the gesture in a few swipes, but don’t yet understand what I’m looking for, when told to capture the essence of the pose, hence some very heavy-handed areas of color. I suppose if I keep doing this, and doing it enough, it will get better. Crossing my fingers, trusting the process!
      I noticed that I was quite taken with feet…and hands are difficult for me, so I tried to draw them with more attention, though I think I lose touch with intuition and fall into the trap of overthinking when I do this.

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      1. I think hands are tough partly because each digit is so detailed and individual that we lose sight of the unity of the whole thing, how it all flows together. But they can be beautiful. But yes, the more you draw, the easier it becomes. You’ll begin seeing everything in life in terms of how you would draw it. Have fun!!

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  2. Nat!!! I super LOVE these and that you are getting into Life Drawing. This is the way I learned to draw (and am still learning to draw.. the learning never ends). Keep doing it! Your lines have great energy & rhythm to them and I look forward to seeing you play more with this.. pen and brush (different sizes), larger paper, different colors..etc, etc… 2 books I would recommend to have a look at (just cause you know I’m a book nerd like that too). The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides and High Focus Drawing by James McMullan if you can find these at a library. Or dump the books and just keep drawing….I’m just too excited you’ve started. And yes, you could also use yourself as a model in front the mirror too (yeah butt naked). My heart is singing. 😉 Love,Mims

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    1. Hello, Mimsy, love! I enjoyed it sooo much, kept wanting to kick myself for not cutting through the bullshit and doing this sooner. But there’s a right time for everything, and I must admit that had I started earlier, I would have fallen for the easy way of trying to draw realistically, with the thousand faint pencil lines that marks the hesitant and fearful artist, hoping to ‘chance upon’ the right lines, scared of making mistakes or bold moves. I have read Nicolaides’ book, I think. Frederick Franck’s is a nice little lesson in seeing, too.

      Like you, it took an amazing book to actually explain the difference between illustration and drawing to me…Emily’ Ball’s Drawing and Painting People: A Fresh Approach. It’s not a how-to book, but a why book. 😉 So many things I was confused or ignorant about, she made clear to me. If I could have only one book on drawing/painting, this would be it, I think.
      Like why a realistic painting of a person made from photographs and slowly built up over the days and weeks with tiny licks of glaze and form-modeling feels ‘false’ to me, somehow. That slickness, that taking refuge behind skill and technique, that over-worked, highly polished finish…I can do it, but couldn’t understand why I hated the finished work so much. It’s the immediacy, the connection that I crave…varied and playful mark-making, allowing emotion and situation to distort the image, to act upon it. So who would’ve thought it? I love expressionism. It makes me feel alive.
      “A drawing is not so much a reproduction of the images of something seen, as a record of something made.”

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  3. Hi Nat, good lively lines! have you ever tried doing some life modeling yourself? it helps in understanding all the tensions involved, how difficult it can be to hold a 2 minute dynamic pose and the long hours of modeling for a painting class

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    1. Hey, thanks! Er, no, I am far too self-conscious to model, myself, though I did pose nude for a painter, once, when I was in my twenties. Awkward as hell. For these drawings I did try each of Bianka’s poses out, myself, before drawing…to feel the stretch, where the weight was distribute, to empathise, too, I guess, with her form. Bianka didn’t hold any dynamic poses…she kept things comfortable, nobody in the room was good enough to do a dynamic pose justice, I don’t think.

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  4. From someone who still can’t hold a pencil correctly, I think they are all remarkable. I don’t think I would’ve thrown many away just so I could have a reference of “before” and “after”. I would certainly try and keep up with the classes as anything worth doing, of course, is worth doing well and it does take a lot of work and practice. You go girl!

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    1. Thanks, Kiihele! I understand how you feel…when you don’t draw, or you have a block about being able to draw, anything anyone else does can look so incredible. I didn’t draw a thing until I was 25, when I moved out of my parents’ home, and away from all the judgements, expectations, biases and prejudices that a family can foster. I didn’t believe I could draw, and didn’t know what made good drawings, either. It took me years to shed inherited parental notions about art…which, come to think of it, were pretty gauche. I was very much your average stick-figure maker. 🙂

      One of the most important lessons I have learned is to not be precious about drawings/paintings. It’s way too early to start being sentimental about things. Keeping these drawings will move me to grow fond of them. Growing fond of them means that I start using them as a reference point and do the same thing next time, instead of lashing out and doing something completely different. In the end, hanging on to some amateurish scribbles I did on my first day (good grief!) of life drawing will actually get in the way of learning and growing.

      That, and never draw or paint to please other people.
      🙂

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    1. Thank you, dear. LOL Heavens, Pauline, I can’t keep everything, just because it’s something I did! Don’t worry, I didn’t waste the paper, I used some to line a shelf with, and the others to wrap some parcels that were going in the mail. Non-attachment, non-acquisition, non-ego (well, trying, anyway)…I am trying to keep my life free of both physical and mental clutter: pride in past work is as pointless as fear of the future…neither are real, and both will only distract you from the present. I go again next Sunday, to do it all over again. Maybe three years from now, some of the drawings I do will actually be worth keeping. 🙂

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