Life drawing, its just one of those classes you love or hate. Love it or hate it though life drawing is one of the most important things you can do to sharpen your observation skills.
1- Life drawing forces your brain to make the conversion from three dimensional to two dimensional. This takes a lot of practice and skill. You might find that in life drawing you often feel very tired by the end of it. Its quite taxing, because your brain is working so hard to accomplish this conversion.
2- Life drawing requires your brain to take scale into account. Typically you have a person in front of you modelling and your paper is much smaller. Your eyes and mind need to scale the figure in front of you down to size. This is also a great and necessary skill for drawing, as learning this allows you to begin scaling things up or down with greater ease.
3- Life drawing sharpens your eyes and mind. The body is moving ever so slightly as the model fidgets, readjusts, changes their shape. As you look from the paper to the model and back again you will notice that perhaps the back is too straight on your paper and readjust. You are consistently making tiny adjustments to your drawing because the model is moving. This sharpens your observation skills.
4-Life drawing helps to elongate your concentration and work flow. When you draw from real life your brain needs to readjust to be able to focus and capture the essence of what you’re seeing in real life to the paper. Life drawing is timed and you are required to get as much information down with as much accuracy as possible.
5- Life drawing helps you to develop your rendering skills. When drawing from life the light is often placed a certain way on the body to accentuate it. You draw with a broad range of shadows and highlights. This helps later on when you draw from photos, because if there isn't enough tonal information in the photo then you are skilled enough to add in that information, because you know where it should be.
Life drawing is taxing, but extremely fruitful in terms of what it gives back. If you aren’t able to access life drawing at your university because of department funding problems or if you’re learning to draw at home usually artist run galleries or centres will have life drawing on about once a month or so for a small fee which is usually to cover model costs. If you don’t have an artist run gallery in your area you can always do life drawing with a bunch of friends wanting to do the same thing, you don’t have to take your clothes off, (unless you don’t care then by all means).
Oh hello, welcome to my blog, hacking a BFA. Is it an academic blog or is it just an art blog? I don't really know. Some of this might be relevant to art students only, some of it relevant to art amateurs......does it really matter? I invite you to treat this blog as an art buffet. If you want something more in depth...its here, something more geared to art newbies....it's here. Enjoy!
Melissa Cayford is an artist, designer and educator bent on making art and art education more accessible.