My sister convinced me and several of her coworkers to join the Figure Drawing NYC meetup.com group this Sunday. We all took up paper, pencils, and went to the back of a bar called Otto’s Shrunken Head, and started sketching. The live model was GREAT. I can’t say enough good things about her…I’ve drawn dozens of live models before and there is a huge difference between a bad one and a good one! She had really good poses that were fun to draw; the stage lights hit her in an inspiring way, and every gesture she made had this grace to it. I was especially happy about the rim lighting on her curves, but unfortunately my hands could NOT keep up with my eyes! :(
It’s been a very long time since I drew seriously with pencil and paper – everything’s been digital for a long time. And it is SO different. Yes, I use a pen tablet to draw, and yes that is supposed to simulate drawing with a pencil in real life…but it’s still just a simulation. There’s no eraser shavings to sweep off my illustration, no accidental smudging, no undo key…!!! I can’t save different versions in case I mess up, I can’t use liquify or transform tools to fix my proportion mistakes. All I had was graphite and an eraser tip; my hands and my eyes. It was tough to get back in to that “mode”. For most of the time I even forgot that I could and should be smudging to get the shadows I wanted. Still, I longed to draw on the highlights like I do in Photoshop…of course you can do that in real life too, but not with the imprecise eraser tip I had, and not with white paper and no white pencil or crayon…
But I am not blaming my tools, or lack of tools. I used to be good with a mechanical pencil, even though you can’t tilt it to shade like a normal pencil. All it takes is practice, and all I need to do is get used to using these things again. I was so frustrated with myself that I couldn’t do what I knew I should be able to do. But I did see improvement from the first gesture drawing, which I didn’t even take a picture of because of its awfulness, to the above-posted 22min sketch. That was the last one, and by then the frustration was disappearing and I wished there was just a few more poses before the end.
I’m not sure if I’d keep going to these figure drawing sessions religiously. But they’re definitely fun, inspirational, and a great reminder that I have so much more to learn. I think my alma mater might actually offer free figure drawing classes for graduates…but I have to check on that…!