Seeing through life drawing
What: Develop your ability to draw the live nude figure from observation.
When: Five Wednesday evenings 7.30-9.30pm. Starting on 19th July and finishing on 16th August.
How much: £52.00 (for all five sessions) inclusive of tuition, materials etc. with no additional costs.
Where: The studio is a short walk from Syenham rail station. The full address will be sent by confirmation of booking email.
Summary of content:
The course, which is suitable for anyone regardless of previous experience, will take you through the possibilities and challeges of drawing observationally from the human figure.
Slide presentations and discussions will help you understand and evaluate drawings more fully by providing an historical, aesthetic and technical commentary.
By the end of the course you will have made a portfolio of drawings and have added to your perceptual and technical skillset.
Everyone can draw. Learning to draw better involves re-configuring the habits of seeing that we have acquired over the years. These are used to construct the way we see the world and are necessarily well-fitted for everyday tasks such as walking, driving, eating etc. However, they are ill-suited to the particular perceptual requirements of drawing from the live figure.
This course will provide you with the opportunity to develop new or different ways of seeing through drawing.
Practice will comprise drawing from observation in two senses of the word. The first being the act of drawing a pencil across a surface to leave an impression; the second being the act of drawing - or pulling - from what is perceived. Theory will cover ideas about perception, historical and contemporary approaches to drawing the figure, method, and critique.
The Impressionist Monet described the art of painting directly from the landscape as comprising little more than this;
When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you - a tree, house, a field… Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives your own naive impression of the scene before you.
All this sounds very reasonable and relatively straightfoward to do, in theory. But practice reveals that it is far from simple to produce a ‘Monet’. Why so?
Because seeing is never naive; there is no such thing as the innocent eye, especially when it comes to looking at the human form. It is rife with preconceptions; memories, thoughts and feelings. The act of seeing is always prejudiced or pre-judged. Our childhood is spent developing powers of selection and interpretation sufficient to negotiate the complexity of visual sensation that the environment presents. Imagine the consequences of driving whilst seeing the oncoming traffic as nothing more than a mosaic of coloured patches. Seeing the wood for the trees turns out to be harder than its looks at first glance.
Monet is describing a hard-won technique of observing and recording in a particular way suited to making piaintings. This is where theory comes in. There are many ways of seeing and painting or drawing; some better road-tested than others. This course will concentrate on the hardy perreninials but in a way that is intended to provide you with why they work as well as how they work. Two of the five evenings will therefore put more emphasis on rehearing techniques and ways of seeing than on 'performing' a drawing.
By the end of the course you will have had the opportunity to:
Draw observationally, from both the live figure and other sources
Develop a range of perceptual, technical and evaluative skills appropriate for drawing observationally
Consider the practices and theories of drawing in the context of the history of Western European art.
Week one, with model: setting the scene: the model, picture plane and drawing surface
Week two: learning new ways of seeing; getting things in proportion
Week three, with model: making and matching; theory in practice
Week four: more ways of seeing; modelling form and opening up space
Week five, with model: putting it all together
I have recently retired from lengthy full-time employment teaching on art and design courses at a university, but I also began my career working in schools and adult education.
Towards the end of my time at the university, I ran the media pathway of a foundation course in art and design whilst also being a year tutor for a graphic design degree course.
In addition to offering life drawing and experimental photography short courses, I am still actively exploring and experimenting within a range of art, craft, design and media practice.
About the space and educational approach
The space is my studio because I have always approached teaching as a way of trying to learn more reflectively and deeply. Whilst I often use pedagogical methods, the courses are intended to be guided learning experiences largely comprising practical problem solving; hence the use of the term experimental. I regard myself as more of a coach than instructor or pedagog.
The studio is designed for maximum flexibility of both use and process. Although relatively modestly equipped, it has the potential to be a creative laboratory if populated by like minded spirits.