I didn’t really know what to expect at a life drawing class and wondered how the 2-hours in my local adult education centre would pan out, but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. It was something I wanted to do for a while but just hadn’t got round to. I found it to be quite a meditative tranquil experience, and definitely, plan to return to life drawing soon!
What is life drawing?
Life drawing is drawing a ‘live’ person who is generally nude, the process is to enable the person drawing to observe the shapes, lines, and contours of the human body and draw what they see – it serves as a great opportunity to practice observational drawing.
Where can I find a class?
Start by searching ‘life drawing classes near me’ in any search engine. You’ll probably be able to find some taster courses or even several-week courses through your local adult education centre. I attended a taster evening which was 2 hours for £5 but the centre also offers a 10-week course, as well as a whole day course. I’ve also seen other opportunities at local bars or event spaces – especially in London.
What should I bring?
This really depends on the provider, double check the information given when you sign up and give them a call if you’re still unclear. For the course I attended we were told not to bring anything but upon arrival, the teacher explained that everyone is welcome to bring their own paper and materials and really anything they would like to work with. Although she did have paper, charcoal and pencils available – with an additional surcharge of 10p per piece of paper or piece of charcoal (which is fair enough as art materials are expensive and can soon add up).
We worked on large paper size A2, and I particularly enjoyed working with charcoal as opposed to pencil, but it all depends on preference. I hadn’t realised at the time but of course, you get to keep your drawings and take them home with you, keep this in mind as once you have your wonderful drawings you’ll want to protect them from the wind and rain on your journey home.
What should I expect?
Ordinarily, the easels will be set up in a circle around the model so everyone will gain a different vantage point, as well as ensuring everyone can see clearly. The model will not be shy about removing their robe and getting starkers! They are professionals after all and this is how they earn their living. It was actually quite uplifting to see someone so at home in their own body. The atmosphere in the room was very calm and relaxing.
The room will be hot! After all – there is someone in the room who is completely naked! We can’t expect them to be sitting there with goosebumps while we draw them! It would be useful to dress in layers if it’s cold outside so you can join in, and strip off a little. If there aren’t refreshment facilities, bring some water with you , as it will be warm in the room, it’s a good idea to keep hydrated.
Depending on how long the session is, it is likely that the model will sit in a few different poses, ours sat on a stool, or on a chair or was standing. However, our teacher did describe another enthusiastic model she worked with who would lay on a sofa with his head upside down, and try to model in all sorts of different positions. The models will be holding the position for either 5, 10 15 or even 45 minutes though so imagine how it might be difficult standing on one leg for 45 minutes. You should however, get some varied drawings to take home with you.
What will I get out of it?
The teacher will generally whisper pointer’s and advice as they are walking around the room, as well as general advice to the whole class. After we completed the drawing sessions the teacher encouraged everyone to walk around and look at everyone else’s drawings and to appreciate the different styles and techniques being used. A lot of comments in the room were critiques of peoples own work and praise of others (I think there were some harsh inner critics in the class). Some people may find it a little frustrating or difficult, some may feel completely ‘in the zone’ or completely out of their comfort zone trying to draw a naked person. The best thing is to just let go and go with it, don’t try to be too perfect or precise, and just draw in the moment.
Whatever you may feel at the end of the session its definitely something worthwhile trying. I found a renewed enthusiasm for drawing and wanting to improve my skills, so much so I would like to find another class to attend soon. If you’re going along as a bit of fun – you will have just that, if you’re going along to improve your drawing skills I guarantee you will. After all, practice is key when trying to hone any skill.
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I hope this post has inspired you to book that class and get stuck in. If you’d like to learn more about different techniques and how to draw human form, here are some books which you may find useful too – Complete Guide to Life drawing, Life drawing in 15 Minutes, Life Drawing, and Life drawing: A Journey to Self-Expression.
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