Life drawing, which is also known as figure illustration, is depicting the human body in its most natural state: vulnerable.
Because the exposed human body presents technical demonstration challenges like form, structure and foreshortening, life drawing is a popular method of training among artists on both the amateur and professional level.
Aside from presenting the opportunity to practice and learn new skills, like creating the illusion of an object retreating into the background, the nude model also allows the artist to offer individual expression on human nature.
Regardless of innate ability or background in the use of complicated art techniques, everyone who attends a life drawing class will seed a new skill or further development of an already proven aptitude, said Linda Reeves.
She attends and serves as a contact person for the life drawing workshop held at the Cherokee Arts Center, 212 Water St.
“Yes, there are some who have the natural ability, but I think anybody can develop some sort of skill,” she said. “We don’t have an instructor. It’s not actually a class. Basically, it’s an artists’ [help group]. No matter what their ability is, we get together to perfect our talents and practice our talent by drawing the human form.”
Workshop participant Jerald Petersen said artists around the world have been sketching models to help develop their skills and ability.
“You don’t get many opportunities [to have access to a life drawing class],” he said. “That’s what artists do, [though, is practice their art.] You can do it a number of ways. There are various approaches, various schools about how to do it. [There’s] the old classical way of teaching, so in the modern stuff, you get strange results sometimes.”
The Cherokee Arts Center has been identified as a place where artists on every level can come together to share in the experience of imaginative creation. The life drawing workshop, which is held at the center every other Friday night when the group is able to meet, underscores what the building represents.
Because the center is allowing the group to use the facility for the workshop, Reeves explained it is necessary for a minimum of six artists to conduct the 7 to 9 p.m. figure-rendering cooperative. Fee for the class is $5.
“We pay the model $15 an hour, and we meet for two hours. If we can have at least six there, then we have enough money to pay the model,” she said. “If we have seven people come to the class, for example, then we save the money for when have a less amount. We’re trying to meet every other Friday, but it depends on the group and any other factors that could create a reason why we couldn’t meet.”
The life drawing workshop has male and female models who serve as the group’s body prompt, but additional models are always needed. First-timers to the workshop need not entertain thoughts of embarrassment or shyness due to the bare nature of the class, Reeves said.
“The body is actually a beautiful thing. It’s only the narrow-minded who make it nasty,” she said. “That doesn’t even cross your mind because you’re looking at the design or shadow of the figure. Of course, we cover up the windows so people can’t peak in, but we’ve never had any problems with something like that.”
During the two-hour session, the model will provide 10 one-minute poses, two five-minute poses, two 10-minute poses and one 20-minute pose with each series segmented with group breaks to allow the model to rest and adjust for the next pose.
“Sometimes they will lie down or sit. When we’re doing the one-minute poses, the models will turn their arms in different positions. Sometimes they have props, like sitting on a chair or reclining on a pillow. If they’re leaning on an elbow, they have to be in a very comfortable position to hang on to that pose for [an extended] length of time,” Reeves said. “Right now, we’re talking about doing a model with clothes. You would try to make the presence of the body known under the clothes with factors like wrinkles and shadows. Like a paper doll.”
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