I found a life drawing event in my area
and I had to go!
All the artist emphasis the importance of drawing from life, and you would think, yes of course it is important to practice, and I may just practice in my style, use other peoples life drawing to copy or why not just taking photo reference.
To really bring it to the point, you need to teach your eye to see what there is, not what you think there is. Art and photos from other people show you what they see and that is rarely what you would see yourself.
My goal was to look at the model and just draw exactly what I see. And that is harder than you think. We do build a version of the world in our head and live through filtering out all the things that we already think we know how they work so we can focus on something unusual. This way of living and drawing is prone to wrong perspectives, and odd repetitive mistakes. I have done it myself a thousand times. The other thing is, we also miss out on the opportunity to add new knowledge. Think about it, when was the last time you have payed attention on how many fingers there are on the hand... maybe when you were 2, right? Have you updated your knowledge since then? You drew the hand back than as a square with 5 carrots sticking out and maybe today you wonder why your hand drawing sucks.
You have to draw what you see
and correct the model of the object
you build in your head.
So, there I was, sitting in the room with the nude drawing model in front. I see the body, but I can't see the model. All my anatomy knowledge was distracting me from drawing what I see. So I implemented a trick.
I started drawing shapes,
negative space shapes,
and I compared measurements
I started drawing the things I didn't know. That is the shapes around the body. It was completely new to me how the body fills up the space and as I brought my brains attention to something new and unusual, I was able to really see what there is. How the arm holding the hip builds a triangle, the big square made out of both legs and the floor. This helped me to go through even most challenging poses. Because this way, I never asked myself, how I learned the arm is jointed up the the shoulder, or how are the hips positioned on the chair, i just drew shapes that I could see.
|2 min poses: Here still thinking too much about shoulder joining up, torso being three heads high, etc...|
|10 min poses: Slowly finding the shapes around the body and working in big lines. The back and bottom are one tilted line, the arms and chair another, all builds a triang.e|
|20 min poses: Finally I am drawing what I see, there are triangles, s-curves, bony rounds|
By the end of the class, I was able to draw what I see. And it worked so well. I then implemented that way of looking also on observing the shades. What shapes are the darkest part of the shade, how long and dark is it compared to the rest.
About the class programm
At the start the poses were 2-5min long, and then the model changed the pose. This time was just enough to warm up to the paper and to start concentrating. The next set of poses was held 10 min, and that was for just too long for a quick sketch and just too short for working out the details. The 20min poses were brilliant, as you had enough time to start with the rough shapes and then work out smaller shapes and more detailed shapes that would finally form the body.