the importance of life drawing…
I’ve been doing a bit of life drawing. Been wanting and needing to for a long time and have at last found a session I can go to. But I am worried that there aren’t enough people interested to make it worth the model, who is running the sessions, continuing. I live in Falmouth, supposedly stuffed with artists. Where are they all?
I am not a figurative artist and it may seem that life drawing is unconnected with my work. But I believe it doesn’t matter what sort of artist you are drawing is important and drawing the human form is the most difficult and valuable sort of drawing there is. It is not about learning how to draw the human form, it is about learning how to draw. It is about the experience of looking and drawing. With that seeing comes freedom and expression. The drawing, the piece of paper with marks on it that I end up with, isn’t really that important. It is the shadow or echo left behind and the intense moment when I am seeing is what matters.
Life drawing isn’t easy, in fact I find it incredibly hard. I have been drawing fast and only for ten minutes at the last two sessions. I will try to do some longer poses and paint in the future. I want to place the model in a space and I struggle with scale and getting the whole figure on the page. The paper is too close, the model is too close and I draw too big always ending up off the page. If I could have a huge sheet of paper on the wall and paint life size that would be my natural way I think.
I feel exhausted after a session but I am also left buzzing with creative energy. Life drawing, for me, is emotional and not at all academic. It gives me enormous freedom. I can make marks, follow lines, hack out dense blacks, create spaces, experiment without having to wonder where and why. There is no right or wrong with drawing. I haven’t been ‘taught’ anatomy and I don’t follow any rules. My way is to start where I want to start and finish when it is finished.
‘I have learned that what I have not drawn
I have never really seen,
and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing,
I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.’
Frederick Franck– The Zen of Seeing