When I was originally in art school I dreaded figure drawing class. I was nervous about the nude model (I got used to that - though I never felt even the slightest sexual stirrings, no matter how lovely the model - too many other fears). I had no idea how to draw something so complex, and so beautiful. I was overwhelmed by the amount of information I had to process. My left brain took over and did sticks and straight lines and over simplifications and horrors for proportions.
So when I went to the life drawing studio at a local arts center with Oldest this evening, I was mildly apprehensive. I was afraid it would be just like it was in college. I've actually been having college flashbacks all week. I had been meaning to go ever since I found out about it, and after seeing my first sample of The Pagan Shpinx's Friday Nudes. Probably four months ago. But one thing and another got in the way (conveniently?). So I never had gotten to it.
But now Oldest is preparing his portfolio for the School of Art and Design at NCSU, and he hadn't done any figure drawing yet. So we both went this evening. The model was supposed to be a male, which didn't thrill me (I'm just not as interested in the male body - I wonder why...) but we arrived and it was a lovely, curvy young lady who had not modeled for this group before. She posed beautifully and imaginatively - several commented on it afterwards, and I will be calling the director tomorrow to say we would like her back sometime soon.
The first poses were four two minute warm-ups, and then four five minute warm-ups, then two ten minute poses. You don't get to see those. They were like the bad old days. But it didn't bother me - no professor coming up behind me, etc. - I just drew and got into the beauty of the young person before me, and by the last warm-up drawing I was finally getting what my professors had been saying about tones, line quality, and SEEING. My right brain was gaining control. Then, after a short break, I put a big arm chair on the platform for her, some other artists (regulars) lit some lights which were behind her, from my position, and we did three twenty minute poses. And things came together for me and I drew. This is how the best drawings in college came out - maybe one in two or three classes. I had three in a row tonight. It felt incredible. And I could see, no suprise, that Oldest had several drawings which he could be comfortable putting in his portfolio. We hope to go again next week - last chance before the portfolio interview.
He really got into it, as did I, when we switched (for the long poses) from the light newsprint and one color of pastel, to the medium toned paper and the two colors (one for darks, one for highlights). He loved that way of working, especially given the strong lighting we had on the figure for those three poses. And so did I. I had a great time doing this - the beauty of the experience, of seeing the human body that deeply and enjoying the lovely details that reveal the bones or show the soft flesh, was a bit intoxicating. And with the medium toned paper you get to concetrate on the exciting highs and lows.
And I suddenly understand why some artists always draw or paint the human figure.
These are all 18 x 24. They were drawn standing at an easel (Oldest also insisted on this, though tables were available and several of the other artists used them). They were all finished in twenty minutes or less. The time limit also tends to clear the head - keeps you focused - scares away the left brain - and it's merciful for the model.