Live model drawing at home
Ever since my academy days more than 15 years ago, where live model gestural drawing was a daily occurrence, I’ve been wanting to find time and a place to continue developing my anatomy drawing skills. Understanding the human anatomy and being able to express form is a must for all portrait and figurative artists. Today, all of my figurative paintings are studied from life, however little anatomy is portrayed as the models are clothed.
The goal of our drawing sessions at school was not to create likeness or something over rendered, but instead a quick impression of the form. Much like in other exercise we would start the warm up phase with 5-10 1 minute poses, after which the model might pose for 2 minutes at a time or 5 minutes. We would finish the sessions with 1 30 minute sitting. What this forced us to do was to draw from the right side of the brain, without thinking or measuring. Over time, the results were really spectacular, even a 1 minute gesture sketch could create such power and depth. The reality is that over time, these skills will fade unless you constantly work on them.
After realizing that it would very hard for me to attend live model classes with all of my responsibilities, I was very surprised to find out that you can do exactly that online. While doing other things, I stumbled upon 2 YouTube channels devoted to live model drawing. The models are live on your screen and just like at school there is a timer. There are hundreds of different models and poses to train your drawing hand. The two channels are:
If you plan on trying out your hand at gestural drawing, here are a few pointers:
1. Don’t expect master drawings; At least not for a while.
2. Try not lifting your pencil/charcoal of the paper too much. This constant hand motion will create emotion in your work.
3. Don’t draw the details. Focus on the form and large shapes.
4. Do not erase ever.
5. Have fun.
Here are the results of my first YouTube session, which I have to admit lasted well past my bedtime. Admittedly nothing beats working from real live models, but having this YouTube resource is a great alternative.
Beyond gesture, certain poses can be developed further, but require that the model poses for a lot longer. For the following conte drawing of my wife, the form was sketched out quickly and then the rendering took a few hours.
This drawing of my son uses a similar process with an addition of white conte, however this time a photo was my main reference. Happy drawing!
We live in a very consumerist society today. As I write this, there are constant ads appearing from all corners of my screen inciting me to spend and consume. To keep up with our ever growing spending, manufacturers have accommodated by offering an increased product line up. It is no different in the art world.
I recently watched a very insightful TED talk from a famed psychologist Berry Schwartz on why the belief of ‘more is more’ is a myth and a dangerous one at that. He incites that creating greater choices for consumers is a good thing up to a certain point after which the effect can be an opposite one, creating insecurities amongst them. The choices that we do end up making for purchase often leave in us a sense of doubt whether we made the right choice. Ultimately this can leave us not appreciating what we have and constantly searching for the next best thing.
From an artists perspective it is no different. No matter where you find yourself in your art career, you can be assured that there are dozens and dozens of courses/books/workshops/etc… that will supposedly help you along your path. There are hundreds of choices when buying brushes, paints, paper, frames, and varnishes and there are more and more choices popping up daily. How are we to ruffle through all of the noise and buy what is perfectly suited for us? What art workshop should we take? The simplest answer is to take classes from artist whose work you admire. Learn from them and them alone. Then as the late Robert Gann said: “Lock yourself away for 6 months painting unencumbered. Only then can your true voice show through your work.”
Another concern I have, keeping with the ‘more is more’ paradox is how some of these how to books are written. In researching for this article, I looked at how a lot of these ‘beginner’s guides’ are written and can sum it up in one word – overwhelming. I’ve been painting professionally for 16 years and can tell you if I had one of these books back then, I never would have started. The books are written trying to cover every nuance of possibility with that particular medium. For me it would have created a sense of confusion and possibly dissuade me for even working in the medium.
I’ve wanted to write this article for some time now as this paradox of choice affects all of us artists. There is always something new that is released that peaks our interests forcing us to change our habits, assuming for the better. With social media, email and smart phones we are constantly being interrupted, so that it has become impossible to paint undisturbed. My advice would be to learn your medium of choice from someone you respect; then go and create with your own style, limiting your interruptions. Make your art about you, on your own terms. It is never an exact science and it should not be quantified or measured in any way. Happy painting.