Hurrah! It’s here! Saturday morning and I have a lovely day lined up in a pub in Wakefield. This isn’t going to be like any other day or evening in a pub, where I force myself to imbibe far more alcohol than is good for me, but a life drawing day!
OK, so I am looking forward to having a pint with lunch, but the focus of the day is a luxurious 6 whole hours of life drawing. I haven’t been doing this for long – it’s something I started when I left my job last year, and it’s something I’ve really enjoyed since I decided to give it a try. It’s strange how people react when you say you’re off to do some life drawing – odd, “knowing” looks and sideways glances and questions like “ooh, aren’t you embarrassed” and “what’s it like”?
What it’s like is a whole day of quiet contemplation – two models, great lighting, a little chit-chat early on and over lunch, but otherwise a peaceful day stood at the easel, listening to quiet music on my i-Pod as I draw what I observe. OK, so it starts a little less quietly…easel legs creaking into position, pencils rattling and rasping as they are sharpened in eager anticipation, masking tape gently tearing as paper supports are quietly taped to drawing boards and water quietly stirred in jars as everyone sets up their own work space There is something very peaceful and serene about the room once the initial set up is complete.
We’ll start with two quick warm up sketches – there is a flurry of activity as the models adopt their first pose and we have 10 mins to “get our eye in” and persuade any tension to leave our bodies to create the space for our creativity to enter.
I start left-handed – my non-domminant hand. The results are “interesting” – out of proportion, crude and quite ugly, but Im already starting to relax and I feel some sense of creative emotion is released in me.
Feeling more relaxed I attach a second sheet to my easel for the second pose – again we have ten minutes to capture the essence of this pose and the juxtaposition of our two models.
Working right-handed this time I’m feeling much more comfortable and confident already. The result this time is a much better proportioned picture and a sketch I will undoubtedly refer to again at some point in the future when looking for inspiration in my painted work. The outside world is almost disappearing completely except for the warm glow of an autumnal sun that brings a halo highlight to the models and a stark contrast of tonal values.
I set myself up for the longer pose that will last for the rest of the day. I love the light texture to the surface of my pastel paper and the warmth of the brown sheet I select from my portfolio. A close squint at the scene before me and I am able to pick out and capture the deep tonal values with my dark charcoal and the highlights with a white charcoal pencil. Very quickly the scene before me starts to emerge loosely from my paper. Key lines noted in outline I have captured the scene and lunch beckons, including a refreshing pint!
This short break presents a chance to reflect and my decision is made…I will focus on working the detail in this picture for most of the rest of the day. Usually sessions become a race against the clock, but today’s session presents this rare luxury of an opportunity to work a picture with a finer level of detail. The afternoon passes by with relaxed satisfaction and I create a picture that captures the mood and I feel proud of…