I don’t post a lot of my life drawings from a weekly figure drawing session. But today I thought I’d post a few and try to explain why life drawing is so important to me.
I’m often asked, as an Urban Sketcher who draws a lot of people, if figure study is necessary to drawing people into your sketches. The short answer? No. Just like technical architectural drawing is not essential to drawing buildings.
5 minute pose. Charcoal on Newsprint.
But does it help? Immensely. Of all the things I draw, people are the hardest for me. So I draw a lot of them. Because practicing drawing what is most outside my comfort zone means I have the confidence to draw anything.
Figure Study in a group session almost always means working alongside some pretty amazing artists, being inspired by them, and learning from them. Just seeing how a room full of people handles the same subject in so many different ways is an education. And artists are really generous sharers of all they know.
Another question I often hear: “Why draw the nude figure when most of your urban sketches will never contain a nude figure?”
I enjoy drawing nude and clothed models. To draw the nude figure is to understand structure and muscle, and the flow and mass of the human body in ways that are often complicated by clothes. Going back to my architectural analogy, it is like studying perspective, structure, plans and layouts. While they might not be WHAT you draw when you draw a building, understanding them informs and enhances your drawing.
Watercolor, charcoal and blue colored pencil on paper. 40 minutes.
When I draw in cafes and on the street, I most often draw people sitting, or standing, walking or bending over, and every once in a while, jogging or running. Models at figure drawing sessions offer really dynamic poses, especially for the short pose sessions. I find contrappostol poses especially amazing to learn to draw weight, balance and the ‘line of action’ of the human body.
15 minute pose. Ink on watercolor paper.
I draw loads and loads in 2 hours of figure study. Most of it will never make it to this blog. A lot of it makes to to my recycling bin. But it is all really valuable practice and learning towards my 10,000 hours. And that counts for a lot.