Sunday was my last life drawing session until Autumn, and in the days beforehand I was delighted to see/hear the benefits of drawing the nude extolled on both radio and online. First up, this splendid half-hour Radio 4 broadcast from a Brighton-based life drawing session (yes, I know, not the most obvious subject for radio, but it worked well) presented by Will Gompertz. The tuition, and the reverence given to the model, is spot-on and a delight, and it's fascinating to hear from two life models (including one of Lucien Freud's - here she is) on what it's like on the other side of the easel. Well worth a listen.
A few days later, life drawing made an unexpected appearance in this BBC Magazine article on how to mitigate against memory loss. Three test groups were tasked with either walking exercises, crossword/Sudoku puzzles or life drawing classes. At the end of it, guess which group showed the biggest improvement? A pleasant surprise, partly because I'd never associated life drawing with self-improvement, partly because my memory is frankly pisspoor. Clearly more sessions is the only solution...
Learning how to draw was not only a fresh challenge to our group but, unlike the puzzlers, it also involved developing psychomotor skills. Capturing an image on paper is not just intellectually demanding. It involves learning how to make the muscles in your hand guide the pencil or paintbrush in the right directions.
Anyway, to last Sunday and my own attempts at venerating the model & developing psychomotor skills. With the fast poses I normally work on cheap newsprint paper (left over from a house move years ago) but for a summer treat I dug out some unused sheets of A1 cartridge paper.
The XL charcoal worked an absolute treat on this, the contrast between light & dark far more marked than using the newsprint.
Onto the 10/15 min poses, I switched to oil paints. I'm in the middle of reading James Gurney's Color And Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter (thus far it's a peach) and wanted to put some lessons on colour and limited palettes to the test. The results were middling to fair, and I felt I was learning through my mistakes.
Similarly, an oil painting of the 45 min pose turned out flawed but with aspects I liked as well as stuff I can hopefully learn from. The colour of the body in light is a good one, but the shadow is too thin by comparison, although I think the actual colour works pretty well - it just needs a similar 'thickness' to the neighbouring colour.
Choons! I started off with Nerve Up, Lonelady's debut album which I bought after being so impressed with the recent Hinterland. It's cracking, wonderfully taut with a spiky guitar jabbing away furiously with the fast poses.
Followed by Jane Weaver's The Silver Globe, sold to me by a performance on Marc Riley's excellent All Shook Up online-only live music show - watch and be entranced.
And I wrapped up with the Buena Vista Social Club Presents... album, which doesn't seem to have anything to do with presents. Good music, mind, though I could've done without the attempts to throw turntables into the mix. Just keep it real.