Drawing the nude was second nature to me at one time, and I drew a lot of figures over the years, becoming quite skilled in that area. I was intending to write about the life drawing session I held in my home last weekend, thinking that I’d have produced pages of work and have plenty to say about the process. When the session didn’t prove as fruitful as I’d hoped – meaning I wasn’t that happy about most of the sketches – I realised I faced a dilemma.
Should I wait until next month, when Ayla and I were meeting up again, and I would have a whole lot of good figure drawings to write about? Or, should I be brave and post the one sketch I liked last week, and write about that? Nothing like admitting I was out of practise – I guess. So, dipping into the well of humility, I shall do just that – write about a two minute warm-up sketch!
I remember first sketching a nude model at speed, when I was a sixteen-year-old art student. It was fun, I recall, learning how to really look at the model, and to quickly jot points of reference, with the aim of producing the whole form if possible within two, or three minutes. We were urged to try biro, pencil, or pen, any drawing tool which would slide easily across the paper. Holding that thought, I took out a 6B pencil, which has a nice soft lead, and started sketching on my lovely cream A2 paper. It felt good. I was in my happy place.
I love using charcoal too, rubbing a finger through the pigment to promote shade as well as form, and I switched to that medium for the longer poses. But, with these drawings I lost movement in the line, my work looked static – to use another word – boring. Usually, (in the past) this wasn’t the case, and my drawings would show sensitivity and dexterity. Like, the two-minute sketch above! There, I’d rubbed the graphite indicating shade in a second, and sketched, top to bottom, side to side, over and over, just like I did as a kid in art school. And, I was pleased to feel like that, even if it was just the one sketch. Next session with the model, I’ll try not to think too much, about what I used to do and how I did it, but simply sketch and sketch and sketch.