Drawing from life

Years back, after I graduated in Illustration and then found myself a ‘proper’ job (that allowed me to pay steady rent), I realised I had lost something that used to bring me a lot of joy. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved drawing, but I found myself in my early twenties with a steady job but barely drawing. Life seemed to have taken over.

That’s when I made a promise to myself to join a life drawing group. From January 2001 – 2011, every other Saturday I drew and painted from the figure for three and half hours. Drawing from life grew my skills, not only in observation, but also my ability to handle each medium. Through that group, I taught myself to paint and found a love for the portrait.
Eventually, the Saturday mornings got increasingly hard to maintain, as my little family grew. In 2011, with two young children, self denial and pure practicality, common to many creative mothers, took over and I stopped going to life drawing. I’ve recently been reading A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood. It’s not a new book, but balancing family and art is a perennial question, judging from the collection of essays from numerous artists and writers within. As my children have have become a little less dependent, and life has shifted in subtle ways, I’ve allowed myself to get back in the life room.

I’ve now been to three sessions, which are now monthly, so slightly easier to maintain momentum. At the first session I eased myself back in with a portrait (above), in the second I went back to basics with a charcoal drawing (right), and yesterday I worked on two small oil paintings, both postcard sized (below).

Life drawing usually cries out for large A1 sheets, capable of fitting in the figure with expression. It’s great to make large gestural sweeps with charcoal and chalk. So why postcard sized?

Very simply, one word: Twitter. Two years running I have entered paintings into the Twitter Art Exhibit art auction, raising money for charity, where every piece of art has to be postcard-sized. So the real question is, which one should I send? Answers on a postcard, please.

#1 close up

#2 full view

If you’re local to East Grinstead and interested in coming to our non-tutored life drawing sessions, drop us a line for more information.