2 weeks of the fall semester down, and I'm still trying to adjust to the school schedule. This is the first time I've had two art classes in one semester, and it's definitely a lot of studio time - plus I wonder if my art teacher is starting to get sick of me! But there are two other students in both classes, so at least I'm not the only one!
So far, my life drawing class has been the fun one and I've been pleased with my results. The painting class has proved to be frustrating, and I'm not sure if perhaps it's because I'm dealing with still lifes after working outdoors with landscape. Today I struggled with drapery, which I've decided I never want to paint again. Maybe it's just a mental block.
Life Drawing, on the other hand, has proved to be so different the second time around. My first time drawing from a live model was spring semester, in the Figure Drawing and Portraiture class. I know, they sound like the same class, and so far they have been very similar, but they count as two different classes, and I can use the practice. Besides, I've discovered that it's so much more fun to work with people than still objects and even landscapes. There's the opportunity for so much more energy. Of course, we've also had good models so far, which makes a huge difference.
I thought I'd post a few examples of what I've done, since people seemed to like the landscape paintings. This represents three classes of three hours apiece, so I've got a few more pictures than normal here. Oh, and yes, our models are nude most of the time, so I apologize if you weren't expecting nude drawings. But it's art, and we've all got these parts, so get over it. And if you're at work, they're drawings and again, it's art, so they can't get mad at you.
We're starting out with the basics, so we've been doing straight line drawings to work on angles and proportion. They're not the prettiest, but it's a great way to get down the basics of the pose. These are quick - 10-20 minutes. He also wants us to focus on composition, as many people are not used to working on 18"x24" paper, and he wants us to use the whole page. Last semester I struggled a lot with proportion and shading. I'm typically a slow draw-er, so one of my accomplishments has been becoming much faster, and learning how to trust my eye after lots of practice on proportions. It's still good to double-check periodically to make sure things are where they should be, but it makes drawing so much faster and more enjoyable if you're not constantly stopping to figure out torso length versus leg length, versus width, etc. Last semester I progressed a lot in learning that to the point where I don't have to spend as much time figuring that out, and then I can spend more time developing and enjoying the pose. I think this will give my drawing more energy as well.
Gesture drawings have helped with that a lot as well, and are still one of my favorite parts of class. We haven't spent as much time on these, but soon enough we'll start every class with them. So much fun, and great to warm up! He's had us trying to loosen up by not looking at our paper while drawing the model's 1 minute poses, and by using a loose line and not worrying so much what it's looking like. 10 poses on one piece of paper helps you not worry about looks either! Perhaps I should have drawn smaller! I liked the energy in how they're overlapping, though.
We had a male model our second session, which was nice because we usually have more female than male models. I had to take my drawing hand and brain off auto-pilot and really think about what I was drawing instead of the normal "waist goes in, hips go out" generalities. This was my first time with this model, and it was refreshing to have a male with a more muscular build. So often it's boring drawing the male models we get because they tend toward being skinny, which is just lots of straight lines. Not half as much fun as curvy lines - even if we're doing straight line drawings! I've found that I draw much, much better if the model is interesting and inspiring. It makes a huge difference!
And then our session yesterday I had so much fun! First of all, we had Christina as our model, who is our teacher's favorite model, and whom we had a number of times spring semester. She is so much fun to draw with a tiny waist and these fabulous curvy hips, plus she has some amazing poses. She's also very comfortable modeling, which sometimes is not the case, and you feel bad for looking at the model and drawing them, when really that's what they're there to do! Now don't get me wrong, I'm not volunteering for the job, but it takes some of the fun out of drawing when the model looks uncomfortable.
We started out again with straight line drawings, but then he had us erase those so we could only see the traces of that drawing, and then do contour lines with the straight lines as our guides. If you don't have a structure down first, contour lines are very easy to get carried away with, which usually ends up in the proportions being massively wrong. I love the grace and simplicity of contour line drawing. There is an art to what not to put in as much as how the lines overlap and curve. It's something I'm still working on, but I was very happy with some of the lines I achieved in these two drawings (especially with only 20-30 minutes to complete the straight lines and then contours). I've also struggled with feet and hands (we haven't spent a ton of time on them, so I'm not as familiar with them yet), so I was happy to make progress with the feet here. I didn't have time to work on the hand cradling her head, but it was still a victory to get both feet completed! Obviously the second one we didn't have quite as much time, so I didn't finish it. I like the direction it was going, though.
I look forward to the next class, which unfortunately isn't going to be until next Wed., with the holiday. I'm supposed to sketch lots and lots of people in my sketchbook, though. For some reason, I have a mental block against my sketchbook too. I have a much harder time getting things to look right. That could be the smaller size (9"x12" instead of 18"x24"), or because I'm usually using graphite instead of charcoal. All the more reason to practice more, right? I'll try to remind myself of that!