go figure

Posted by on Feb 25, 2010 in Maine College of Art | 0 comments

I just finished reading “The Undressed Art: Why We Draw” by Peter Steinhart for the third time. It’s a book about life drawing, the rituals found in drawing groups, the artists and models who participate. I reread it from time to time when I am teaching, because it reinforces all the facets of this driving urge to draw the figure.

In an illustration class, the nude figure is less necessary. Drawing people in clothing or costume is also a great challenge, especially with elaborate folds and details. I encourage students to bring in props, anything that will add intrigue. And I allow drawing what is there and maybe what is not there. Inventing is appropriate for illustrators.

Of course, someone always brings in a weapon. Our culture is so saturated with violent entertainment, a (toy)gun is a standard prop. This student cleverly turned his pose into an idiomatic gesture, a metaphor for human foibles. One student noted that it was also a political act, to avoid the draft. Here is my quick sketch:

In another class, students posed as Alice in Wonderland characters. I added the mushroom perch, of course.

Here’s the Cheshire Cat.

I even posed with a mad hat and a cup that said “drink me.” This is Shannon’s drawing, which doesn’t show the quivering arm of this amateur model.

A hired model in another class brought some interesting costumes of her own. This is Annie, in a graphic skeleton suit.

These drawing sessions provide an opportunity for everyone to capture fashion and mood, in 10 or 15 minutes. I make mine quick, maybe 5 minutes, so I can also circulate among students and offer encouragement.

Practice, practice, practice is the mantra for everyone, including the teacher. Students may think they will be DONE with the learning after they get the degree. It will only have just begun. Every time I pick up a pencil, I am seeking new ground.

Go figure.

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