Life drawing … without the awkward giggles

When I thought about doing a life drawing class for the first time, I pictured myself reverting to a 13 year old, giggling awkwardly about the female anatomy (hehe, boobies!).

Fortunately, when I rocked up to the class I didn’t feel overcome with laughter. Yes, there were moments of weirdness, but I managed to behave like a proper grown up and use the opportunity to unleash my inner creative. Good to know I can act like a 30 year old when required!

If you’ve never tried life drawing, I highly recommend it. And before you say – ‘But I can’t draw!’ Stop. Collaborate. Listen. And read on:

Shannon drawing

One of Shannon’s first sketches. Not so bad*

  • Before you get all worked up about it, this is not a competition (well, not at the classes at No Vacancy in Melbourne where I went). Sure, I snuck a peek at what my fellow artists were creating and thought ‘damn, that is good!’. But I’m a newbie and practice makes perfect. Right? Right?!
  • If you’re like me and haven’t picked up a pencil or crayon or paintbrush for a long, long time, you might just surprise yourself. There were moments where I stepped back to look at my own drawings and thought: ‘Hey, that’s not so bad*!’
  • There might be times when the model turns and looks straight at you. It’s weird. When this happens don’t freak out. Definitely don’t giggle. Just draw.
  • I was unexpectedly struck by the beauty of the human anatomy in this class. As women we spend too much time stressing over the little lumps and bumps on our bodies. Drawing them gave me a new appreciation of our body’s curves.
  • Be prepared for fast drawing.  In the class I went to, the model did several quick poses. From memory, the longest pose was 20 minutes and the shortest was 30 seconds.
  • For the shorter drawings it’s best to throw the details out the window and focus on the bigger picture. You want to get  the figure outline down on paper quickly. If you’ve got time left you can add the detail over the top. I was surprised to find that the sketches I spent less time on were better because I didn’t have time to overdo them.
  • The head is one eighth of the length of the body and the hips are halfway! Wow! This is a good rule to remember when you’re trying to get your model’s proportions right (see guide below).
  • Don’t be scared of the private parts. Yes it can be a little uncomfortable but really, how often do you get to draw a real-life penis or vagina?!

Picture from Vilppu Store blog

*Not so bad = Better than a six-month old child could do. Probably.

Have you tried life drawing? Tell us about your experience and share your drawing tips below.

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Shannon Crane

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