|HOW TO ACHIEVE A SUCCESSFUL LIVE DRAWING SESSION
|Written by Joanne Gervais
live from models is always the preferred method of creating
portrait and figurative work. This is not always feasible, and
in those cases, we refer to memory, previous studies and photographic
reference. For anyone who has had the pleasure, and sometimes
distress, of working from models, many factors need to be addressed
in order to achieve a successful life drawing/painting session.
Success does not always mean the creation of a masterpiece,
but should always be a great aid in your development as an artist.
Life drawing is unmatched in the training of the "artist's eye:
from seeing the essence of movement in short gestural work,
to a virtual sense of touch in contour drawing, to the understanding
of three dimensional form in mass studies, and the opportunity
to see the subtle nuances of color only visible from direct
viewing of the human body. Below are some factors to consider
when doing a session with a model or commissioned work:
Prepare your materials prior to the session. Go to your
local art supply shop or go to their catalogues and web sites.
Get familiar with all the supplies available. Do not be afraid
to experiment and try new techniques and materials. Courage
to try new things will often speed up your development and increase
your skill as an artist. Have your easel, board/canvas/paper
ready. Line them to your eye level and model position, so that
you minimize body twisting. Your drawing arm should line up
between the marks on your paper and the model. Have your media
ready and close at hand-----clean water bucket, solvent and
brush holders, pastels laid out, rags, malh stick, brushes chosen,
paint laid out on the palette, etc. etc.
Do not worry about the cost of the material. Your time and your
model's time are the two most expensive costs to your drawing
session. A beautiful drawing on newsprint will give you good
practice, but if the work was of a quality that you would have
liked to keep, it is on an extremely non-permanent material
and will be lost. You can have the same practice on a good substrate
and if it is a beautiful work, great, you can now keep or sell
it with confidence as to its archival quality. Art shops have
many great art materials, of artist's quality, and at reasonable
prices. They also offer many great sales. Buy your supplies
in bulk at these times, and your savings will be substantial.
Take the time to "pose" the model. Place the model in an artistically
attractive position, but one that is also comfortable and
natural for the model. Choose a background fabric, board or
divider to place behind the pose so that distracting walls,
chairs, doors, etc. are hidden.
It is preferable to choose a fabric color that will compliment
the model's hair, skin tone, clothing, props, and personality.
A darker, lighter, cooler, warmer background color will all
affect the mood and appearance of the pose.
Pay particular attention to the lighting. For portrait work,
a stronger slightly above the models eye level, soft spot
light is used.
Sometimes in conjunction with a softer, more subdued light
shining up onto the chin. For figurative work, a light is
used to enhance the body's sculptural form with good contrast
between light and dark areas.
Tripod lights are most useful as they are stable, flexible,
have a good hood that will withstand a strong wide bulb, and
can easily be moved up and down. They can be found at both
art shops and camera supply stores.
Gestural warm ups are good for both the model and the artist.
They get the jitters out of the way, all the while keeping
the artist and model loose. Gestures are excellent at training
the eye to see and put down the essence of a pose, without
getting caught up in the unnecessary details. need to be done
Choose the length and type of pose according to what the artist
needs to create, keeping in mind the model's strengths and
Some models can only hold short poses, are easily distracted,
fall asleep, some even fall over! You will quickly learn to
appreciate a model that can naturally fall into an artistically
attractive pose, and keep in position, alert for the whole
length of time you need. To get models, post notices in you
local art shops, galleries, dance studios, body building gyms,