Life Lessons

Life drawing.  It can strike fear in the hearts of anyone who does not possess a natural knack for rendering line, form and proportion.  Life drawing/painting can be challenging to be sure, and the practice of it will improve anyone’s facility. But I would bet that most people, when considering life drawing, imagine that an arm needs look like an arm or a head to look like a head.  And although that skill requires a certain ability that comes easier to some than to others, and should be admired, it is really the least interesting part of figure-inspired art.

So you got your Leonardo’s and your Michelangelo’s and you got your Durer’s and your Raphael’s, Titians, etc.  And you can’t forget Botticelli and Rembrandt, although Rembrandt mostly painted people with their clothes on. No question—they’ve brought us awe-inspiring beauty in the form of the human body, which has been one of the principal subjects for artists throughout history.  But it is NOT accuracy that makes their work beautiful, soulful or keeps it speaking to the ages.  Consider some of the most revered works of one of these titans—Michelangelo’s “Awakening” slaves, unfinished sculptures that are often described as the figure emerging from the stone.  (One example-  )

Then think Matisse, Francis Bacon, Bonnard.

So if it is not depicting accuracy that causes viewers to be awed and brings the artist back again and again to work with the figure, what is it? A long list of answers is possible, not the least of which involves the energy that a live model, especially a good model, brings into the room.  And then when an artist, sensitive to that energy, to that life force, brings it to the page.

You are all sensitive, but we may have to short circuit some of the expectation in order to connect.  (I’m seeing: Back to the Future –when the lightning strikes the clock tower.)  So come willing to press hard on the graphite or charcoal.  Or hold the brush with your non-dominant hand.  Be willing to keep your eyes on the model to maintain connection and let proportion be damned.  Be willing to see the subject in different ways, like we discussed with the flowers. Be willing to be unique in your vision. Be willing to let lightening strike.

I will have a few ideas for people to try.  We will do warm ups and several short poses, and perhaps two longer poses.  You may need some bond paper or newsprint if you don’t want to use newspaper for warm-ups and short poses, and at least one larger sheet—it can be an under painting if you’re comfortable with that.

Let the DUENDE come“Duende” is a term often used in Spain to describe flamenco singers or dancers who have/transmit that untranslatable quality. It would be a mixture of strength, rapture, rawness…It can be used in any other context by extension, to describe someone or something that has much depth and impact  (not accuracy)~ Spanish Translator, Susana Galilea

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