Feb 8, 2012

Drawing from life

Blind contour of Kate, 1 or 2 minutes.

Someone recently asked me, “Yeah, but do you really want to do portraits?”


Heck yeah. Does a bear do his business in the woods? Does peanut butter like jelly? In my opinion, the mastery of portraiture is the ultimate mastery of painting and drawing. Not only to capture a person’s likeness but to capture the essence of a person is what I believe to be the ultimate painting challenge.

My college degree required three years of drawing and two years of painting. Freshmen in the arts program at Virginia Commonwealth University were quickly emerged in figure studies of nude models. We did two types of short poses, blind contour (really funny looking) and fast gesture drawings (see Kate’s 1-minute yoga swan pose below). On large newsprint pads, we probably did hundreds of gesture drawings. Now, fast forward forty-five years….

I still paint from live models, sometimes clothed, sometimes not. Kate’s poses were all done during a Thursday Chambers Arts! Live Model Open Studio session. Last Saturday I began a session of long pose figure studies in downtown Raleigh. I decided to ignore the body of the nude. No, boys, I’m not kidding. My concentration was on the face. The African American woman below took me maybe three twenty-minute sessions. You bet, I can paint tight. Please click to see a commissioned portrait I did recently of a mother and her two daughters. Yes, I can paint like that. However, who I want to paint like is John Singer Sargent. And boy! Do I have a ways to go! It’s about practice. God chose our parents. He gives us our time. It’s up to us to do the work. (Just another one of my opinions ;-)
Kate again, 15-minute pose

Beginners and experienced artists serious about drawing might consider a workshop soon to be offered by Jillian Goldberg at Chambers Arts! in Cary, North Carolina. A one-day workshop In Your Right Mind will be offered February 11. Click on this message to be on your way to better seeing and drawing.

20x16" oil study, three 20-minute sessions

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