Last night I had my final session at the life drawing class I've been going to every Wednesday evening for the past 10 weeks. When I signed up for the class, I set off with the intention of improving my observation skills through drawing the figure and the hope that in doing so, my draughtsmanship skills would also develop enough to enrich my storyboarding process, animation and cartoon work.
It didn't take me long to realise how naive it was to expect so much in such little time. With so many things to keep track of, drawing is such an intense, frustrating and at the same time exhilarating process. Every session took me deeper into the pleasure of drawing and I gradually began to see the potential in the seemingly simple act of making marks on a surface. My understanding and appreciation of what is involved in making a drawing work has certainly grown. The biggest lessons I've taken from these classes are:
1. Outlines flatten the picture plane, but intelligent use of tone releases it.
2. Working out the angles of what you see and how they relate are the foundations of depicting mass and foreshortening.
3. Foreshortening is HARD!
4. A drawing is always bad, particularly the first lines you draw. The more you work on it, the "less bad" it gets. So, it gets progressively less and less "bad" but there will always be some "bad" left in it. :)
5. A 30-second pose is just as hard to draw as an hour-long pose. They're just different challenges with equally demanding routes to resolution.
6. You've got to think about every line you make with the pencil but also feel your way around the drawing with it too. Not lifting your pencil off the paper forces you to vary the pressure and type of strokes you use as you work through it - hence improving your drawing vocabulary.
7. Always carry a sketchbook - wherever you are - but most importantly - USE IT.
8. Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice..... Draw anything. The subject doesn't matter, what truly matters is actually drawing it. Everything you see is worthy of a sketch or ten!
9. Economy of line. The gold standard.
10. Draw from the inside, out.
11. Forget about the end result. For now, the final drawing is irrelevant - just enjoy the process. You can't rush it and become a superb draftsman overnight. Dig the process and geek out on all the discoveries you make along the way that build on your methods and technique. This will ultimately bring out the artist you already are and completely take you by surprise when it does.
So what did I actually draw last night? Well, as usual we had some short poses to warm-up with:
Pretty piss-poor even for 5 minute warm-ups. Then we had our long pose which ran for a little over an hour:
(click the image for a larger version on my flickr site)
The purpose of blogging these drawings was to chart my progress through the 10 week course and I do feel these classes have improved my approach to the visualisation work I do as an Art Director and even though the Wednesday evening class doesn't start again until next year, the Princes Drawing School have drop-in classes starting next week that continues to the end of August. They run these on Tuesday and Thursday night - so hopefully I'll be posting life drawings twice a week now!