(This made a really good, attention grabbing title, I think!) Of course, what I mean is, are you afraid of drawing from life? Many artists do find it an experience that ranges from intimidating to frustrating to really overwhelming. The practice of taking a three-dimensional object and converting it into a flat image on paper is indeed an exercise that engages many different skills and parts of our brain. Aside from carefully posed still life, buildings and landscapes, many subjects will not hold still and allow themselves to be drawn! Many students of the human form have the additional issue of how to go about obtaining a willing model and consequently spend a great deal of their practice time using photographic resources or else have to deal with the prospect of studying themselves in the mirror.
What are we all to do? Well, many modern-day artists resort to photographic references, something that has never been so available as a resource to us as it is today. Even 20 years ago we would not have the ability to take our own photos and upload them to enlarge on a computer screen, to instantaneously have the reference of our choosing. Nor would we have the option of going to a copywrite free website, such as Pixabay and picking through hundreds and thousands of images for the one that fits our idea, inspiration or whim.
Since the advent of the readily available photographic reference, the art world seems to have become somewhat divided about whether the reality of this is actually a good thing. Some argue that a slavish reproduction of a photograph in the style known as photorealism barely qualifies as art and is rather, a mechanical skill. Others argue that it is an available tool that everyone should use as they like. The term “Art” means so many different things to so many, so, why shouldn’t what constitutes the doing of art be whatever they want it to mean also? Still others are deeply concerned with the aspect of copywrite and stealing of ideas or a composition without permission. We live in a complicated world and personally, I think every artist who deals with photographic references must make their own decisions and choices, based on what they personally believe to be the truth of the issue and what they are ultimately comfortable with in their practice of art.
For myself, I have lately begun to feel that I have been spending too much time using photographic references for people and that it was making me a little afraid of life drawing. I don’t know about you, but when a tool starts to feel too much like a crutch it makes me kind of uneasy. Photographic distortion and the misrepresentation of color are two real issues that life study will help raise awareness of. I have drawn from life, rather spasmodically, for most of my adult life and I would love to become more confident about it! So, with this thought in mind and a little encouragement from a fellow blogger (Thanks Flora Doehler!) I have decided to embark on some life drawing practice. My youngest daughter and fellow artist has volunteered to be my on call model and I have (sort of) made a committment to attempt a shortish life drawing session about 3 times a week for as much of the summer as I can manage. (It’s the summer, I have to allow myself room to be a bit flexible or else I will miss a session and just give up -probably!)
Above are a couple of my attempts from this week ~ It felt really good to be doing this and getting back to basics with a charcoal pencil and some white paper. I shall be reporting back on how this is going throughout the summer! I am hopeful that I will be up for some plein aire modeling sessions by the time my vacation rolls around – but, we shall have to wait and see!
How about YOU? – do you have any thoughts and comments on this topic? Have YOU set yourself any specific challenges for the summer? 🙂