Still Life

We’re now about half way through 2019 and although my creative drive has subsided quite a bit since the start of the year I am still regularly drawing and occasionally painting (and even doing random things like soap carving).

The two mainstays of my drawing at the moment are a self-imposed project to try and do at least one sketch of a hand each day (more about that, probably, when I get to the end of my designated hand sketch book and most likely bring that particular project to a close – not many pages left now so it’s set to be within the next few weeks) and my weekly life drawing classes.

Since I started attending the life class in January (the second week of the month, when it restarted after the Christmas break), there has been one week when the session was cancelled (annoyingly, that was the week I’d already postponed a dentist’s appointment to avoid missing the session!) but I have been able to attend at least some, and usually pretty much all, of the session every week that it has been on.

That makes for a total of 24 sessions or around 50 hours of drawing (we get in a bit more than 2 hours of drawing in a typical 3 hour session, but I’ve had to miss a few chunks of sessions, so I may only have done about 40 hours of figure drawing from live models so far this year), with 9 different models (6 female, 3 male). I’ve also done quite a bit of drawing from Croquis CafĂ© resources and other photo / video references, as well as some bits of figurative (or semi-abstract) work based on my sketches from the life classes, so it’s fair to say that this has accounted for a substantial chunk of my artistic activity this year.

It seems quite appropriate that the 6 month mark corresponds with the point at which I’ve reached a total of more than 300 photos of my life drawings posted to my Flickr album. These are all either things I’ve drawn or painted at the life classes themselves or, in a few cases, things I’ve drawn, painted or carved at home based on sketches from the life class. There’s not an exact one-to-one correspondence between the photos and individual drawings and I haven’t kept a careful account, but I probably have done around 300 sketches (ranging from a few seconds to about half an hour each) in the life classes so far, and perhaps about a dozen other pieces of work directly based on them. The skills developed in the process have doubtless had a significant effect on my other drawings and paintings (and perhaps beyond) too but that’s even harder to quantify.

On the whole I’d say my drawing skills are gradually improving, although the quality of my sketches can vary quite a bit from one session to the next and often from one pose to the next. Perhaps most importantly, it has been a great deal of fun.

I’m looking forward to continuing with the life classes for as long as possible. And it’s only just over a month now until the Oxford Summer School, where I’ll be doing a 3 day course on “Drawing from dance”.