Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life Drawing - Third Session

All drawings 18 x 24, drawn with burnt sienna and (the last two) ivory nupastel stick. Click for larger views.

I would guess our model this evening was over sixty years old. I was excited by this for several reasons. First, I've never had the opportunity to draw figures much over late twenties. I was curious what differences there would be, and what that would mean in the drawings. And second, I had a hunch there would be more of the sign of the bones beneath the flesh. And it's paying attention to the bones that makes a figure drawing convincing, it seems to me.

We did our usual run of four two minute poses, four five minute poses, then a couple of tens, and the last hour with two poses around twenty to twenty five. After the ten minute poses I switch to better paper (the short poses are in a cheap newsprint pad).

The two poses above (crossed legs and the back) were each five minutes. I loved both poses, and was fascinated by the shapes and the bones in in her knees and feet. The back pose was what I've been waiting for - an opportunity to try to better understand how the back is put together, and how the bones and muscles play over each other. This is my best back so far.

The next illustration leaning forward while seated on a folding chair, was still in the newsprint pad. It was my strongest drawing of the evening - and by accident we let the ten minute pose run to 17 minutes. I loved the way she had her shoulders up (resting her weight on her locked arms) and the way the shoulders were forward. I probably had one of the best positions in the room for this pose, with the arms and breasts so beautifully aligned. Another thing I love about this drawing is that while there are certainly signs of our model's age, there is so much young woman in this pose. I've spent a lot of time observing how we stay a certain age on the inside (for me it's 32), while our body ages on past us. This drawing captures a little of that.

The longer poses were less inspiring for me, especially the third photo here, where she knelt in the big wing-backed chair, with her back to the room. But it was an opportunity to try to draw the complex shapes of the lower back, brightly lit. All those long concave areas, and the bridge just below the last trace of spine.

The last pose, curled up in the big chair, looked like a tangle of limbs when I first looked. There were glimpses of portions of figure in so many layers going away from where I stood... I'm not unhappy with this drawing; it just doesn't do much for me. I'm actually pleased to have captured the pose pretty well.

After the session tonight I feel more relaxed and human again than I've felt in a couple of weeks. I totally forgot about work for the first time in too long. Oldest was worn out after a few days of work this week, too - but he came along and enjoyed it as usual.


Pagan Sphinx said...

I love the crossed legs and the one where where she is standing with her shoulders and breasts aligned. You say there that it conveyed that sense of feeling younger on the inside. I'd say that for me that age would be 36.

Do you know the work of Alice Neel?

Hey, there is something for you at the P.S.

linda said...

hmmm, I have to say that my preference in drawings was the younger thin model because of her bone-y structure that was so clear in your drawings, but of these drawings, I like the top one of her legs and back especially and the third of her back again-love the bones :) I love the way you captured the available light in these drawings, it's very warm... In the third drawing, I love how you can really see the middle back so nicely and how you captured the light from her head and shoulders all the way down her spine to her buttocks... it's very appealing ... the last one is also very good, I like her upper arm and hand as well, it looks her age, and think the drawing is very realistic...the one where she is sitting forward on her hands is not a "pretty" picture in that she is not in the most attractive position but the way you caught her stomach, breasts and legs also seems very always, very good..

I am thrilled you have managed to capture some time for yourself to immerse yourself in some art after these grueling couple of weeks! it must have felt very good to just draw...

take care of you...

Genie Sea said...

I love the contours and the fragile shading. I like that you had an older model, and that your drawings brought out her beauty. We tend to think of beauty only in one way, and this is a wonderful exploration of beauty beyond youth!

I am so happy that this drawing session has helped ease the tension that work brings! :)

Anonymous said...

What I notice all the time is the very human and sesitive touch you always bring to your drawings and your words.

Anonymous said...

What insight about our bodies growing past us. The chrome in my hair becoming obvious. The softness in the angles of my face and jawline.

My body is moving past me now. I think 38 is my inside age, and I am not recognizing the 41 year old in the mirror.

I want to be your model, that still seems comfortable enough in her skin to sit nude in a chair for you to capture her so graciously.
Original Bliss

Steve Emery said...

Pagan - I will have to look into Alice Neel. And I picked up the something last night, actually - but posted my reply on time delay, to give this life drawing post some breathing room. I think the crossed legs might be my favorite of the evening, looking back. I'm really pleased with the knees.

Linda - Thank you for such detailed commentary on the drawings and how they strike you. I did strive to draw her as her - not just as some anonymous female figure. That said, though, I spend little time on the face - first because I could spend the whole pose on the face - second because I can draw faces in other venues, but this is my one chance to draw the body without clothes. But I didn't want to draw her in a way that made her look ageless, or no particular age.

I have to agree that the most tantalizing opportunity so far was the second evening, where the model had such lovely lines and bones, and was so fit and feminine all at once. I'm not as happy with my drawing that evening - my least connected evening so far. It feels a bit of a loss - but I think she's a popular model there, and I will hopefully get another opportunity.

Genie Sea - Thanks you - I was thrilled, too, to get to draw someone different than the typical model, and to have a chance to explore the unique beauty of someone older. They've all been beautiful so far.

Gypsy - Thanks you - I am almost shy in my drawing, and I think that comes out in my drawing style. Almost as if I were gently touching the model.

OriginalBliss - So your body is just a little past your inner age... I recall how that felt - like being stretched, or something. Like you could somehow hold on and prevent it from happening. Now I'm more than 15 years past, and I just grin and shake my head.

I also admired the openness and confidence of our model last night. Would I show my 48 year old body to a group of artists, much less my body when I'm over 60? But she is quite lovely, and should feel nothing but confidence. I got the feeling she has actually been modeling for a long time - so maybe it's always just been natural for her. I'm looking forward to another chance to draw her again.

Odd Chick said...

I love that you share your life drawings with us. It's like we are part of the class and you give those of us who haven't experienced a life drawing class yet, a feel for the experience. I can imagine that yours are some of the better drawings because these are really amazing practices. BTW- i love the self-portrait with attitude!!

Lisa said...

I find your writing about the poses and how you view the shapes, etc. to be very interesting.

How cool is it that you've tried life drawing again after thinking you didn't like it and it's turned into some thing you're addicted to?

There's a life lesson there.

Steve Emery said...

Odd Chick - I'm eager to share these. actually - I'm so delighted I can DO this. It was such a miserable and embarrassing thing to have my drawings up for the professor and everyone else to see when I was in art school - I was so unhappy with them. I still dislike some now, but I can GET it, now. So it's a joy to share them. Thanks for the compliments.

Lisa - Thanks - I'm glad it's interesting (it is to me). And it definitely is a life lesson. It makes me wonder what else I need to try, or try again.