"It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character. "
What is life drawing?
Life drawing, also known as figure drawing, is the act of drawing a living person. Normally this means drawing a nude model in real life – i.e. not from a photograph or from memory or imagination.
You may wonder why the model is usually nude, and perhaps the easiest answer there is that clothes aren’t alive. Looking at a living thing, and particularly a living person, has a very different energy to it than an inanimate object. Capturing the life of the model is an important part of life drawing and this is better done without covering up the living parts of the person with dead bits of material.
Secondly, the human form is especially meaningful and fascinating for us because we are human beings. We don’t often have the chance to appreciate it in a non-sexual way, since it generally is covered up. The third reason is about history. The masters of old like Leonardo da Vinci clearly believed it was a good idea, and if it’s good enough for them…
Drawing clothed people also results in fantastic artwork of course, and the folds of clothing are great things to draw in their own right. Best of all, outside of life drawing classes you are probably more likely to convince friends and family to model for you if they are allowed to keep their kit on (depending on the types of people you hang out with).
While many artists insist that drawing from photographs is a waste of time, others have found it a useful way to practise. Those against would argue that life drawing is about drawing a three dimensional living creature and a photograph is a 2D inanimate object. The photograph is already a picture, so there seems little value in copying it. However, there are many techniques that can be practised from photos, and not everyone always has the luxury of regular access to a variety of models. If you are interested in drawing from photographs, there are many books and online resources to help you.
Life drawing doesn’t necessarily refer to human beings. As I mentioned above, an essential part of the art is giving the viewer the feeling they are looking at a living, breathing creature complete with bones, blood and emotion. That’s certainly possible with animals. Many animals are really good at just being still for hours on end and if you don’t count fur, they’re nude already. This site is focused on humans, but no disrespect is meant to the other excellent forms of life out there.
You might argue that it is less interesting and authentic to draw a posing model than someone that is in a more natural state, like sitting on the underground worrying about the day ahead or tensely watching their favourite team play the cup final.
Many people enjoy taking their sketchpads out and drawing people in such natural states – you may have spotted them around town. This is also great practice, though some people might be upset if they notice what you’re doing! Also, you generally have to look at your pad more than the person (so it’s not so noticeable) and that’s a bad habit to develop. Many life drawing gurus advise that you should spend at least 50% of your time looking at the model instead of spending all your time pouring over every line on your page – the living, breathing model is the source of all the magic after all.
Life drawing session types
Find here the full list of life drawing session types I run, all the sessions have a relaxing background music.
- Artistic: this is a normal and ordinary life drawing session where you simply draw the model/models in different poses, usually poses last between 3 and 20 mins but we can always discuss together about the poses duration.
I always try to get different models to pose for my sessions so that you can practice with several body types.
- Tutored: every now and then I arrange sessions with a tutor who can be either an expert in life drawing giving you advice and suggestions on possible techniques you can use or it can be a session where the tutor gives you fun exercises for you to try something completely different and challenging.
- Duo/Trio: often I have multiple models posing at the same time adding an extra challenge to your drawings!
- XXX/Erotic/Naughty: these are sessions open to whoever (men, women, straight, gay) likes to experiment something different. The model/models will pose in a naughty way of course. These sessions are mainly held at my flat for more privacy and discretion.
Be aware... no interaction with the model/models or with other artists is allowed, no sex is involved in these sessions (it is not an orgy or a sex party!), pics and videos are not allowed either.
Being RESPECTFUL is the key of all my sessions, as long as limits and boundaries are respected we are all happy. I can guarantee it is a safe environment so do not be afraid to come along if you want to experiment something new.
- Themed: sometimes I like to get people into themed sessions like the ones I do in Christmas time :)
- Interactive: these are sessions where the artists can get into modelling, how exciting! The artists willing to model don't necessarily have to be naked, they can choose to pose on their own or with the model/models of the day.
- Naturist option: most of my sessions offer the possibility to do naturism, this means the artists can also draw fully naked. For some people this is a way of having more connection with the model and being more in the mood of life drawing, this can also help in getting better results on your drawings.
Please, be aware, when you see this option available, there might be other artists not doing naturism so they'll stay fully clothed, also non naturist artists be aware you might find fully naked artists.