She came in and asked, “Where should I set up?” She positioned the chair, took off her summer dress, and stripped down to nothing but a pair of stripped socks and angel wings. When she was finally ready to start, I sat down and pulled out… a piece of paper and a pencil.
I’m sure you knew where I was going with that the whole time. The thought of sketching naked people may evoke images of Leonardo Decaprio and Kate Winslet, but trust me, its never like that. The best experience I’ve had was not what you would expect. The room was filled with techno music when our model for the day came in. She was a 70 year old female sculptor with a white haired Mohawk and two braided pigtails. Being a sculpture, it was totally apparent she knew how the human body looked, worked, and functioned. For the first time, I realized that the passion figure drawing was not only in the students but in the model as well.
A mountain of questions are often asked, “Isn’t it awkward with your teacher there?” or “What happens if someone random walks by and sees?” I have been in life drawing lessons since high school and even then I never came across anyone who made it awkward or started laughing once it was time for the model to get undressed. In all actuality, most students that are found in these classes are excited to learn new skills, since drawing the human figure is one of the hardest things to do. With that said, I thought I would list out the different kinds of students you can always find in a life drawing class:
- The perfectionist: There is always that one student who can draw the figure in less than 5 minutes and already looks worthy of a frame and a wall.
- The animation student: The one thing that separates their type of work is the movement that these kinds of students capture in their figures.
- The student who only draws the face and nothing else: Sometimes its easier to focus on one thing, but nothing can annoy a life drawing teacher more than to ignore drawing in the whole figure first.
- The student who only draws the figure and ignores the face: (Guilty) Drawing faces might just be harder than drawing the figure itself, and there is never enough time to draw it anyways.
- The measurer: A popular way to get accurate proportions when drawing the figure is by holding up your pencil up in the air and squinting one eye. Even though it might look funny, nothing makes a student feel more experienced than showing the different tricks you have up your sleeves.
Figure drawing classes are often joked about among people that have not taken it since nudity can be a funny/uncomfortable thing to deal with in the classroom, but it has definitely been a class that has made me realize the importance of drawing the human figure, and the diverse group of people that share that same interest with me.