One of my biggest goals for this year was to start taking life drawing classes again. I did life drawing classes as a degree requirement for a few years in University, but otherwise did not pursue life drawing as a hobby and devoted practice time outside of my studies. This is something I really wanted to change, as my rendering style as a costume designer is something that I find really important, and can be a great opportunity to express your individual aesthetic as a designer. And, well, you have to know what the human body looks like, if you're going to design clothes for it (and then try to draw the whole thing so someone else can build it!). This is why drawing naked people for a few hours every week is a good idea. Plus it's incredibly relaxing and fun. I've been taking a drop in life drawing class for about 5 or 6 weeks now (not counting the ones where I didn't make it to class), and I've already seen quite a bit of improvement. Here are my favourite works from each session.
|Week 3// Pencil and Newsprint. I likewise tried line as expressively as possible, to imply depth without shading and additional contouring. I am not by instinct a minimalist, which makes cartooning and water colour very difficult mediums for me.|
The first couple weeks of this class I tried to focus on using different mediums, to find something I really enjoyed working with. I knew from university that I liked conte crayons, but I found quickly that I was trading exactness and detail for quick brushy shadows a little too much for my liking. Then after that I discovered how much I LOVE being able to put in highlights, by using chalk on a coloured paper. I found that working off a "medium" tone instead of the bright white (or close, haha) of newsprint, made me feel I could push my shadows more, and really sculpt the body. So far so good! I had some old charcoal pencils hidden away in my drafting table at home from a kit a friend gave me years ago, and loved the balance of control, fluidity and tone: being able to buy something in "light" "medium" and "dark" made laying out blocky shapes and continually refining really easy and less stressful if I made a mistake. I do not use an eraser for life drawing, so if it's a dark line, it's there to stay. And suddenly, your drawing has 3 arms...oops!
So far in this process I've been focusing more on accurately laying out the body and keeping things proportionate, than I have developing style. I finally feel like I can start delving into that more, now. As a challenge to myself, this week I tried to start a drawing not with the shadows, but with the light. I think that because there tend to be fewer stark highlights on the body, I find it easier to keep the distances between them more accurate, and I think it lead to my best life drawing to date (below). I'm particularly happy about her right arm and bent wrist. I think the weight resting on it looks plausible.
Though I've only been doing life drawing regularly for about 2 months, I can already see how drawing the body from observation offers the greatest insight to how the body is constructed, and how this can inform any drawing of people outside of class. I see this time helping me reach my own goals as an artist, with the incredible work I get to see every day motivating me to keep pushing myself and to try new things. I can't wait to get a couple more sessions under my belt and then apply what I've learned to the 3 shows I will be designing this summer. I'll do another bulk update on life drawing in a couple months, but if you want to see what I'm up to, I instagram my favourite piece or two from each class (@efgerofsky)
Are there any skills you have been working on lately? And any other artists in the house?