March 27, 2009

Life Drawing

One of the most valuable exercises for an artist to tackle is the human figure. When I was fresh out of school in the late 1970's, I took several life drawing classes at the School of the Worcester Art Museum. I was struggling and couldn't afford the course fees, but fortunately for me, they had a wonderful scholarship fund. Year after year I signed up and was repeatedly given the opportunity to attend these courses for free. I took illustration, painting, sculpture and life drawing classes. It remains a great museum school with great courses and great teachers.

Below is one of the drawings I did from a live model. I sketched it in about 20 minutes with a large black crayon.

I just love the way her legs and feet get bigger as they get closer. The lines are simple and clean with a minimal amount of shading. It's one of those drawings that I couldn't bear to toss out (or should I say, "bare"?)

The human figure is an amazing thing to draw and the most gratifying part of it is being able to give her life... she's not just a drawn object, but alive. I look for that in other artist's work and strive for it in my own. It's something more than accurate proportions. It's many things; flowing lines, composition, form, weight, the pose, the attitude, the technical aptitude...

I've been keeping this drawing in a portfolio book for decades. Over the years, the paper has slowly developed this wonderful sepia-toned patina which, to me, has increased its beauty. I've scanned it and touched up a few tears and marks but it remains fairly just the way I sketched it all those years ago.
...And that girl never grows old.


  1. REAL nice drawing Mark. I did a year of art school there at SWAM and recall the figure drawing classes. But you excel over my abilities then! Purposeful lines, highlighting in the hair, you can feel the hunch in the shoulders. Even dirty classroom soles on her feet! Nice that you kept it because it's a keeper.

  2. I'm tempted to place some type in those empty spaces... but what would it say?

  3. Rather than type, why not make a version with her in curious situations – on the floor of a grocery store, on the back of an alligator. Or as a "miniature" on a pencil or something.