In light of the new BBC4 TV show entitled ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’ which I viewed last night, I am re-posting a blog on the subject.
In early December, I was invited by my good friend and fellow artist, Maria Do Rosario Tavares (Miza to me) to give a painting demonstration for a group she is working with in Chester. The subject, ‘life painting’ – one of my favourites. It was only a two hour session, but a very good one. The group and the model were lovely.
To warm up I painted this rapid watercolour/gouache portrait of David, the model. I like to get to know my models a little this way before beginning the days work. There have been periods during my career when I began each day with a two hour life session in my studio. I hope to have that opportunity again one of these days.
Twenty minute – full sheet watercolour and felt tip pen study –
I love short poses – preferably five to 20 minutes max. This enables me to capture the energy, movement and gesture of my subject….
five minute watercolour study – male dancerI was fortunate to go to art school in the early sixties when the first year was dedicated to life drawing. Observation, observation, observation……
Twenty minute watercolour study on full sheet…(all the white is dry white paper). the negative space shapes are vital in the overall composition. I believe that a strong foundation block frees an artist to explore their work with more confidence.
Regular life drawing sessions help to build self confidence and most importantly hone observation skills.
Ten minute full sheet study of Scarlett, one of my favourite models Along with nude models we also worked with ‘costume models’ learning how to capture the human form beneath the drapes of fabric – again honing observational skills.
This man modelled for me in Paris….a beautiful dancer. I often do quick portraits of my subjects in a life painting session.
It’s exciting to see that ‘life drawing’ is back in vogue. I believe that people who attend sessions regularly recognise that along with honing observation skills it is a wonderful form of meditation.
In this instance one of my favourite models arrived with her new born baby….It was a magical session. In the warmth of the quiet studio both mother and baby completely relaxed…..Focusing on the loving and gentle hands of the mother. Quite a few years ago I gave a weekend residential workshop in Herefordshire where we painted the hands and feet of models. Excellent exercise. Capturing the gesture and seeking out the abstraction of the shapes produced.
Beginning in 1982 I began a series of works integrating the human form with the rock formations of Isle au Haut, Maine where I spent much time painting. Thirty eight years later I am still working on this series.
‘The moment people turn their backs on one another’. 6ft x 4ft oil on canvas. (1982)For those who would like to try life drawing – I suggest tuning into ‘LIFE DRAWING LIVE’ BBC 4 TV—–a good way to get started.