Sunday, December 20, 2009

Warm up those artistic muscles (warning - nudie pics)

Watercolour Pencil Sketch. Life Drawing. A.Sunde 2009

Even though I love to draw children, life drawing sessions are essential to the development of my skills as an artist. With a live model there is no choice but to draw the figure in the position I see her/ him. That means it's not possible to turn the model on his/her head (as I might a photo) simply because it's easier to capture a certain curve or a particular stroke.

Graphite Sketch. Life Drawing. A. Sunde 2009

Before I start to draw I have learnt to do warm up exercises designed to loosen my strokes and relax my mind. The exercises train my brain to remember arm and hand movements through repetition, using both left and right hands (sometimes simultaneously). It also shifts the focus of my mind to the 'right brain'. In other words the left analytical brain becomes so bored with the exercises it switches off and hey presto I am able to draw what I see and not what I 'think' I see.

These movements will then help me more accurately capture the image before me, even when I'm not looking at it. That makes it sound simple doesn't it?

Acrylic sketch. Life Drawing. A.Sunde 2009

I study Life Drawing at the Gold Coast Art School with Tony Champ. We begin by drawing circles, repeatedly, without taking the pencil off the paper, big ones, small ones, in one direction, then the next, with our right hand and then our left for ten minutes each. Then we do figure eights, then ellipses.

By now it's apparent to me that a certain direction of stroke feels uncomfortable and awkward. My hand just doesn't naturally relax into the movement. That will be my weak stroke and that's the one I need to practise the most, just like an archer practises his aim so he can shoot the bullseye with his eyes shut.

Speed is essential in Life Drawing. The less time you have the looser your strokes. You learn quickly to draw from the elbow and not the wrist. These exercises have helped me to achieve that relaxed sketch I so admire in others.

But the real trick is to draw with your heart and not your intellect.