Figure Drawing, 22 min. Nude

22min., mechanical pencil on paper.

22min., mechanical pencil on paper.

My sister convinced me and several of her coworkers to join the Figure Drawing NYC 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…!


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