Archives for posts with tag: life drawing



The tutor had ambitious aims for the session. He would split the class in 2, half working in sketch pads while seated, the others doing larger pictures while standing at easels. This would get more students in the available space, the seated students forming an inner circle around the model, while those standing formed a concentric outer ring. All students would use 2 techniques, first laying out the form of the pose in black ink, then adding tone in the form of coloured chalk. While the ink pictures were drying, the students were briefed on a later assignment coming their way. During the 2 drawing periods, I reclined on a podium in the centre, lit only by a single high spotlight. 

The first bout of ink drawing in semi-darkness led to a certain amount of spillage of the sticky Indian ink, some of which transferred to the soles of my feet during the posing break. For the second part of the drawing, each student used 3 colours of chalk, applied somewhat hastily due to the impending end of the session. All was well until the first of the seated students found that the chalk dust was blurring the detail on his near-horizontal pad. So he blew it away. The 3-coloured chalk dust swirled up into the beam of the spotlight, producing a pleasing, changing, rising and falling, active work of art. Which was fine until a second student joined in, then a third, and so on. Then the sneezing started, and the coughing, while I lay there collecting the fallout.

There being no convenient foot-washing facilities in the college (have you ever tried washing your feet one at a time in a restroom wash basin? It is physically difficult, and earns strange looks from other users, who usually wash just their hands) I had to wash my feet 3 times in order to remove all of the ink and chalk mixture.   

The picture above is not from that lesson, but is fairly typical of my records of student work. I try to get quick photos before everyone leaves, so put the work on the floor, and often get pictures including my toes. This one is unusual only in that I have managed to put on my shoes before using the camera. Read the rest of this entry »

Dirty drawings! The pictures at the start of my previous post remind me of one of the hazards of the life model’s job – grubby floors. The tone shown on the soles of my feet doesn’t depict the position of the light source, but rather the amount of charcoal dust picked up by my feet. I have in the past attempted to clean them periodically during a session, but now I just accept that my soles are generally black. This coloured drawing shows a fairly mild level of contamination:


This photograph is also fairly typical:


The rest of my body may pick up the odd smudge, but my feet take the brunt of the dirt. Charcoal drawing produces most of the dust, simply by abrasion from the stick. When a tutor issues students sticks of charcoal plus a hammer at the start, I know things are going to get worse. This indicates a lesson on tonal drawing in which the students first reduce the charcoal to dust, then draw by applying the dust to paper with their fingers. All stages of this process inevitably spread dust.

Complications can arise with other media. Splashes of drawing ink can easily be lost among the floor charcoal, and make it much more adhesive. Years ago, I left my dark coloured towelling robe at the edge of the room during a long pose, only to find it splattered with drying white acrylic paint when I recovered it. It still bears the marks of that day.

But my feet remain my main concern. In particular, I must remember to clean them before I get into bed. While I don’t see the soles of my feet most of the time, the evidence on bed sheets will remind me if I forget!

Foreshortening 1

Foreshortening 1

Foreshortening 2

Foreshortening 2

The annual scheduling chaos of the start of the new academic year is upon us, and I am in the Groundhog Day situation of attempting to reconcile overlapping demands on my time. Sadly, I have already needed to turn down an offer of modelling work, but this came at very short notice due to the unavailability of another model. I have taken over some of the sessions, but prior bookings had to take priority over the rest. No doubt things will settle down soon.

The illustrations relate to another form of resumption, that of the model’s pose. I have previously alluded to the difficulty of reproducing the pose after a break in a lesson, which makes me quite pleased about the 2 drawings shown here. The lesson was concentrating on the challenge of foreshortening. I was lying on a table, so the students at easels in line with either my head or my feet had the most difficult task. The lesson was delivered several times to different groups of students, and these drawings were from different artists, in different sets, 2 weeks apart. At first glance, it seems that my pose is pretty much the same. A closer look at my nose shows that I had forgotten the head angle, but otherwise, I think that I was quite consistent.

Now, back to the studio.



How time flies! I have just realised how long it is since I last posted here. In part, this is because the blog concentrates on the life modelling part of my work, and this aspect is largely dormant during the summer, when colleges are closed between terms. However, that doesn’t wholly excuse my laziness since the Mall Galleries post.

It is still apparent how much more work there is in many jobs, including that of the life model, in and around our capital city than in other parts of the UK. Fortunately, my home is only about 1 hour 15 minutes from London by train, so I can go  there reasonably often when interesting opportunities arise. Spirited Bodies in the Mall was one such, but I have also enjoyed working with Stuart Weston on his photographic project Altered States, with a renowned portrait artist on a yet to be finalised series of paintings, on the MCAC charity campaign, and with a variety of life artists and groups offering novel approaches to the subject.

More routinely, modelling work has continued at a slow pace, but with some encouraging trends. One college where I worked for the first time offered a lot of hours, as they teach life drawing to all of their art and design students, no matter what their speciality. In another city, the local authority started up evening life drawing classes in the municipal art gallery. They were unsure of the demand, but the uptake has been very encouraging, and continues to be so after 6 months of the scheme. I have also recently contacted my local art group, with whom I hope to work soon. My attempts to introduce life drawing as an activity for residents in care homes met with less interest.

A new college year begins this week, so I will be back to my usual working environment, as depicted below.

A cluttered studio.

A cluttered studio.

Museworthy’s wordpress blog gives a nice picture of what I face for the next few weeks, so I will end with that recommended reading.



SB 8Feb13.03
I have done quite a lot in my life, so it’s quite refreshing to be able to find a new experience. I was able to do so last week, courtesy of Spirited Bodies. They organised a large scale life drawing session in The Mall Galleries, just down the road from Buckingham Palace, next to Admiralty Arch. About 16 models participated, and there were, I think, 60 or 70 artists. Two of the models sat clothed for portrait work. Four formed a naked pose based on Michaelangelo’s The Deposition, which stayed the same for the full 2-hour session. All of the other models formed a mass nude tableau, re-setting to 3 different positions during the evening.

I was in the 4-model pose, standing as the Nicodemus (or possibly Joseph of Arimathea) figure at the back. This was physically challenging, there being no room for any movement, but the results made it worthwhile. One drawing is shown above. More can be seen on the Spirited Bodies website.

Life models usually work alone, so as well as the artistic satisfaction, this event afforded a welcome opportunity to meet and talk to other models. In my pose, all had some experience, but in the main tableau, some were first-time models. They seemed enormously pleased with the boost to their confidence after the posing was over.

So, all in all, this was an excellent occasion. I am so glad that I was able to participate.

As anticipated, the booked sessions for life modelling are now up to 5 half-days per week, beginning on Monday. With a couple of others to be confirmed, my spare time is rapidly disappearing. I expect all of the classes to start from the basics, with many students new to this discipline. For me, this means hard physical work. Typically, I will be required to use the same simple standing pose for an entire 3-hour class, but with short breaks every 30-40 minutes. The students will begin with line drawing, using pencils on cartridge paper, in order to get used to representing the proportions of the human form in a 2-dimensional form. After that, they will move on to tonal work, gradually introducing new media (charcoal, graphite, pastels, various types of paint) and increasing the difficulty of the poses. The more difficult poses for students will often be simpler for me, as, for instance, the challenge of foreshortening  may be posed by sitting or lying down.

In a slightly different sphere, this week sees the final product of a photographic project in which I took part. The photographer is holding an exhibition of the finished work in London, which we hope will be well received.

For the immediate future, my main challenge is in tidying up the garden as the end of the growing season approaches. So off I go…..