Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Life classes and memories
Its been a long time since I've had a chance to draw the human form. I remember clearly my first life class, probably around 1980 maybe. I had the chance to attend a Thursday class held by Tom Greenshields and, as it turned out, I became a regular then and a protege of his until I left the UK to return to Canada. The class was held in a converted studio over the barn. You reached the studio by climbing up a set of stairs rather like going up a ladder, they were so steep. Armed with large sketchpads and bags its a wonder none of us fell up or down those stairs.
The studio itself stretched over a section of the barn and a door led from the studio into the house itself, albeit through a bathroom. I even recall drawing there one evening, as the power had gone and so no electric fire, the model was getting cold, so we put her into a bath of warm water and drew by fading light and candlepower. The same bathroom was where my daughter posed for reference photos for Tom's sculpture of her and where we trooped by family members having baths or brushing their teeth. It was unique.
The studio had several small windows, one of which let grapevines inside the studio and one year we had a bunch of grapes actually growing inside the studio window! The floor sloped, so that any pencil that was dropped, rolled off into oblivion. You learned to bring a number of pencils just in case...
But that first life class...I was so nervous. There were a variety of people of different ages present, seated on drawing donkeys around the room, with the model on a daybed raised on a pedestal. The background was littered with drawings in frames, books, sculptures, works in progress and work of years gone by. My nervousness was part due to just being in the presence of these people and partly by not quite knowing what to expect. Then faced with the nude figure. I remember the butterflies in my stomach and forcing myself to look at purely light and shadow and concentrate carefully to get something vageuly resembling a figure from my shaking hand.
These are a couple of the drawings from those classes. I am still searching for new life classes, but just haven't found ones that fit into my schedule yet. I'll keep trying, or perhaps just start my own.
technorati tags: drawing, life class, art, tom greenshields, nude