I was at a life class at Inverlochy Art School on Saturday and got into conversation with another drawer. They were fired by the idea of getting better at drawing the figure and asked about classes that were available. Yes we have classes both tutored and untutored. Welcome to your new life, nothing now existed before life drawing. I remember doing the same thing when I arrived. You are aware you want to draw and there is an innate human interest to work with figures. You have no idea that a whole world exists, equally theoretical, measurable, historic, modern and as individual as you can imagine. The tastes, styles and journeys to travel are infinite.
We also discussed books and significant names in drawing that are recognised as talismans to your life drawing development. The usual suspects are Bridgman, Hale and Cole and Nicolaides. I was introduced to these must have books when I set myself on the course of life drawing in 2000. I had work in graphics and at that time had no opportunities to draw with pencils or paper, none were on my desk or in my draws at work. Apart from the drawing classes at my late 80s graphics cause I had a memory of attending a drawing class at Inverlochy Art School as early as 1995 and that is as unassuming as the decision was that is now a big part of my life. For nineteen years I have been drawing, painting and now tutoring at Inverlochy.
It takes a while for things to occur to me. Usually several things have to be around for a while for a connection to be made. First, is that I have been asked about tutoring a life class before and I am intimidated by this. I as yet am not sure what I really do when I draw. My memory of those first life classes at Wellington Polytechnic are very faint. The classes themselves were scares as well. I did attend others but again they were short and dimly remembered. Most of my understanding comes from doing, drawing at the untutored class. Then greatly improved by feedback, which I will explain later.
I have begun tutoring drawing and this has been a big challenge for me but I am really enjoying it. I am now constantly examining what I do and also how others draw. People ask me questions that give me real cause to think and gradually I will build my tutoring skills up. So with my thoughts on life drawing tutoring, what I actually do and all the fabulous must have books, I had an insight. I don't draw the figure using anatomy or constructional blocks or Canons of measurement that fill all those good books. I have to admit I have not used them despite my love of the authors, great intentions and belief they had the goods. The books themselves are drawer's possessions.
So could I teach figure drawing? I am teaching the sighting, relating technique of drawing already. What people expect is the anatomical approach to the figure. Can I look at those books and amalgamate that information with what I do and build a class? I would like to learn all this myself. There is always that glowing interest in me to develop and draw more deeply, the flame never goes out. The promise of those publications is still strong. Can I gradually work through these books and reap their benefits?
After deep thought I have decided there are two sides to everything. I have now selected a few working methods of drawing that are successful for me that I can develop and make my own contribution in. Being constantly used they may end up the only way I draw and this will lead to stagnation. With the expansiveness of drawing there is no shortage of directions to go in which could be your direction rather than the theories of others. But there is solid knowledge in the explorations of others. I have also seen drawers replicate their heroes at the expense of their own drawing and glow in that achievement. I'm sure I would not have an equivalent ability of those published so this is not likely and I have found my line will out no matter what I try. Would there be a noticeable development in my drawing more appreciable than my own work of the same intensity. Is the myth of this knowledge real? Is my desire to achieve this status in knowledge some peer group expectation.
Then I decided there wasn't two sides to everything. There is one: all work is good. All directions need a starting point and that can be a classical exercise or something that has occurred especially to you. The measure of each is not important. The fact you are investing in drawing and painting is what counts. Especially if something has caught your attention. Follow it up. There are hundreds I want to try, from Hale and Cole to Kokoschka's' School of Seeing theories. I will explore them all. Even briefly they will have an effect and I have already begun.