‘LIFE DRAWING’ – perfect for honing observational skills.

During the last few years it’s been great to see that life painting/drawing is back in vogue.

Some of the images in this post are from a life session I tutored in Chester, UK.

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.      20161207_142829There have been periods during my career when I was fortunate enough to begin each day with a two hour life session.       I can’t think of a better way to get the creative juices flowing.

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 dancerp1160967I 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.     20-11-15-1-432I believe that a strong foundation frees an artist to explore their work with confidence.    

Regular life drawing sessions help to build self confidence and most importantly build a strong foundation. 

Ten minute full sheet study of Scarlett, one of my favourite models  p1160922Along with nude models I also enjoy working with ‘costume models’ learning how to capture the human form beneath the drapes of fabric  – again it’s all about 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. 


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…..20-11-15 - 1 (780)Focusing on the loving and gentle hands of the mother.      A  few years ago I gave a weekend residential workshop in Herefordshire where we only painted the hands and feet of our models.   An excellent exercise. P1160912Capturing the gesture and seeking out the abstraction of the shapes produced. – ten minute full sheet study. 20-11-15 - 1 (50)

Happy painting


39 thoughts on “‘LIFE DRAWING’ – perfect for honing observational skills.

  1. Judith

    I am so in awe! Your paintings are so beautiful and so magical! And figures! This is exactly what I’m starting to work on — not in watercolor but with my oils. My first figure-painting is atrocious (it’s scheduled to post in early June) but we have to start somewhere. I followed a tutorial which was helpful, but I don’t think his methods and processes are right for me. I like your fluid approach, capturing faces and bodies with bold strokes. I love all of these paintings! They are magnificent.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much for your lovely compliment. Are there any life groups that you can attend close to where you live? Here in the UK, life drawing has really come into its own again….There are pubs (when we are out of lockdown) that host life drawing sessions long with many other venues.

      1. Judith

        It’s something I’ll have to check into. Most likely nothing would be too convenient since we’re about 45 miles away from the city. I have a feeling most sessions would probably be in the evening, so it would be difficult for me to attend. I do like using the online sites for figure drawing. Not the same as a live session, but good for my needs. 🙂

      2. Judith

        Hopefully our art clubs will be meeting again soon… everything is up in the air still right now. I’ll talk to the other artists there and maybe we can work something out. I spent some time yesterday doing gesture drawings online, I really enjoy that.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Hi Andrea…that is wonderful that your sketch was highlighted – it is an excellent sketch. I think it’s fantastic that there are more opportunities for people to delve into life drawing. Janet 🙂

  2. snowbird

    Just loved, and of course remembered this stunning post! Just wish you’d go and apply for one of the T.V shows, there are so many. My money would always be on you winning!xxx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank. you Dina…I have never been one to enter these types of things…not sure why..but there it is. But. thank you anyway for your wonderful support. Thinking of you in your garden during this amazing weather. Janet XXX

  3. Dora

    WOW Janet. What a fantastic blog. Beautiful work. I do not know how you do it but it is amazing. Love them all. Fabulous . Have a beautiful weekend beautiful lady! xxDora


  4. Katherine

    I realise being trained so precisely as a mathematician is the opposite of art.But with some courage it’s worth trying.At least I know more about colour now and enjoy seeing what you choose.Art can surprise us so much and can be a communication with other parts of our own being.I instinctively love your way of painting people/The mother and baby.. astonishing
    Hope you have a lovely weekend not watching the News!

  5. davidjrogersftw

    I love this teaching post–your paintings and text that flows so smoothly. The piantins are lovely and the exxplanations clear and useful. I think I’ve learned soething from you today: I have never written about my creative processes that I have been working to refine since I was seventen, and mught try it. For the paintings you use I could use actual texts of writing i’ve done while also talking about any writer’s process of writing and good creative advice. Thank you Janet. I can see you are staying busy. Me too.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you David. I would love for you to write a post using actual texts to demonstrate the writer’s process. Yes Please.
      Very pleased to hear that you are also busy and hope that alll the family is well. Janet :)X


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