Three Hours of Life Drawing

I hesitated to expose an unedited display of everything I did in the course of a life drawing session–not all of it is worth going down in history–but I’ve got this blog to feed and I have done so little art this week that I am desperate.  First you have to agree not to sneer.  If you can’t promise that, you should refrain from going any further.

Our Saturday Life Group seldom varies from the following regimen:  five quick poses of one minute each, then a five-minute pose, then a ten-minute pose.  These total 20 minutes and earn a 5-minute break for the model.  Then a 20-minute pose.  In theory, at this point we have used up only 45 minutes of our three hours.  Over the next two hours and  15 minutes, we will typically ask for two different poses, broken up by breaks every twenty minutes.  The length of each “long” pose is usually between 40 and 50 minutes.  Once, maybe twice, since I have been a member, we got one longer pose over that two-hour period.  At that duration, I can start thinking about drapery and background, because I generally work  fast.   My Tuesday workshops with Peter Granucci are, more and more, informing my choices on Saturday morning, and one of things I am working on is speed.  Slowing down.  Getting it right in the beginning.

But one-minute poses don’t allow for getting much of anything right.  What you must do for a one-minute pose is quickly decide what you want to capture–the gesture, for example, is a good choice.  I had been using newsprint paper, both purchased and saved from packaging (one of my art suppliers uses crushed paper as packing material).  Peter frowns on using inferior paper for even the quick sketches–you should be practicing on the same quality of paper that you intend to use for your masterpiece.

So (coincidentally) this week, I decided to obey Peter, and left the newsprint at home.  Here are my five one-minute poses:

The first one, the one on the left, is my favorite.  I went for the delightful posture, and attacked it by first marking a few key points, then connecting them.  You can pretty much see those marks, which are slightly darker than the other marks.  After that pose, I pretty much fell apart and struggled to find my way.  But it doesn’t really matter–whatever comes of these exercises, they do warm you up, get you moving your arm and thinking in the  right mode.

Here is how far I got on the five-minute pose:

Getting it right entails measuring and lining up.  I do a  lot of that by eye, but sometimes I need to do some actual measuring and lining up using a straightedge.  For this one, I don’t remember using a tool.  I think I placed the forward foot in relation to the calf of the closer leg, but it doesn’t look correct now.  Instead of making sure that I got that relationship absolutely correct, I was busying myself with the more interesting light and shadows.  Aside from the mistake in foot placement, this drawing is not bad for five minutes, but it illustrates how haste makes waste, and why I must slow myself down even when I have only five minutes to complete the drawing.

Next up is a ten-minute pose, which seems wonderfully luxurious at this point in our sessions.  Usually I switch to charcoal at this point, but Saturday I decided to stick with the pencil because I must use it in Peter’s workshop.  Using a pencil forces me to slow down.  Because the pencil is so confining, I also chose to draw smaller, which led to two drawings on the same page–the ten and the twenty-minute poses:

With both of these, I tried really hard to slow down and get all the parts in the absolutely correct places.  These are OK, I think.

For the last two “long” poses, I gave myself permission to do my drawings in charcoal.  It seems weird to me now, but I used to be afraid of charcoal.  I can remember asking permission to start my first charcoals drawings with a pencil sketch.  Probably I was worried about being unable to erase, which is really silly because nothing could be easier than to obliterate a charcoal mark with a swipe of a finger.  But the best thing about charcoal is your ability to create shadows with a smear of a finger.  So much quicker than hatching with a pencil.

I like this one best.  We got two 20-minute poses and I was finished with the pose then, but some people wanted more, so she went back into it for another 7 minutes, and I used that time to create another version of her head.  She has a wonderful face to draw.

The final long pose was one I struggled with, which is a little strange because you would think this pose is easy:

I got hung up on her hand, and redrew it multiple times, and am still not happy with it.  But the bigger problem lies most likely in my beginning — too fast perhaps.  Looking at the pose now, I think she looks too uncomfortable.  Yes, she was leaning on her far-side arm, but her legs should look more relaxed.  I’m pretty sure I did the requisite measuring and checking, but something is not quite right.

After our session concluded, we went over to Joey’s house for the most wonderful party, to celebrate a great season of drawing.  We will start up again in January.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.  And if you happen to eat at the Bedford Village Inn, check out the painting in the foyer.

Link to website:

4 responses to “Three Hours of Life Drawing