Fun with Nudes

In honor of the upcoming exhibit at Hatfield’s Gallery (October 1-October 30–reception this Friday at 5:30 p.m.), “I See Naked People”, I bring you today a few examples of my drawings with the SLG (Saturday Life Group). The title of the exhibit is a slogan adopted by the SLG to celebrate the 20th year of its existence, and is a reference to the famous line “I see dead people” from the movie The Sixth Sense. We had t-shirts made with the slogan on the front, and I do wear mine in public and I do get questions about it. The back of the shirt explains that we are celebrating twenty years of figure art, meaning life drawing. “Life drawing”, by the way, is a term of art that means drawing the human figure from a live model. Unless otherwise specified, the model is nude. Just to be sure, I ran it by Google and Wikipedia.

The most interesting poses have some foreshortening, which means you are seeing a body part coming toward you or receding away from you. The buttocks drawing above (done in colored charcoal) is a pretty extreme example. Here is detail from another where the body as a whole was pretty frontal, but the hand was foreshortened.

If I’m not getting enough foreshortening in a pose, I could move myself around the model, but that’s difficult because the room is full of other artists already engaging with their own views of the model. So I almost always settle for what has been given, and try to find something interesting about it.

Here is an example of a really interesting pose–some foreshortening, crossing of limbs, cast shadows–the kind of pose I wish I could have had more time with. (This one was a 40-minute pose.)
The most time we usually get on a single pose is 50 minutes. We often start with a series of 1 minute poses to warm us up and let us capture the gesture, then one for 5 minutes, then 10, then 20, then two or more 20’s on same pose. By the time we are working on a 20-minute pose, it begins to seem like a generously long time. The longer the pose, of course, the less strenuous it can be for the model.

Even when my angle on a pose has no redeeming feature, simply getting it right, with all the limbs and features located in the right place by reference to each other, is always a challenge. It’s like fitting together a jigsaw puzzle. Life drawing is therefore good practice for drawing of any kind, but especially for portraits, where getting the features exactly right by reference to each other is of critical importance.

Below is a 50-minute pose from last week, but not SLG. We have a smaller group meeting on Tuesday mornings now, which I hope we can sustain through the winter. I suppose if it survives, we will call it the TLG or Tuesday Life Group. We lucky folks with the flexible jobs are perhaps more obsessive than your average naked-people-seer.

On my website proper, on a new page devoted entirely to nudes, I have posted many more examples of my drawings from the past couple of years.

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