June 9th, 2008

pinhole camera

Class discussion - models or photos?

Student Question
I see weeks 5 and 6 both have a lot of self portrait assignments. Are they like the first self portrait one, where we can draw a model instead of ourselves? I kind of find it suprising that they have so many self drawings set up. You either have to draw from a picture or from a mirror. I think a picture is pointless for a life drawing course (because it does nothing to help you learn how to make a 2d drawing from a 3d object, the photo did all of the work). and a mirror really limits your pose options.
Honoria's Answer

You may draw from a model in all cases. Drawing from a model is the norm in life drawing classes. The curriculum developers, I think, assume students can't get to a model, however, there are models around you all the time. I encourage students to draw from life, not from photos.

I agree that drawing yourself in a mirror creates challenges for poses, however, artists through the ages have found self portraiture compelling so it is a viable option.

I believe drawing from photographs is the least useful option because it encourages simple copying rather than interpretation and storytelling.

I hope you watch some of the sketchbook videos to see how artists use their daily environment to create imaginative and exciting drawings. For instance, this sketchbook by Celia Grace Squire, a freelance Illustrator and Storyboard Artist, shows that the artist uses her time at the cafe to draw people.
pinhole camera

Life drawing as a subculture

life drawing by Australian artist
Life drawing by Jon Kudelka
Around the world they gather in small grouips to draw from the nude. 
Generation after generation little groups with art supplies hire a person to take off his or her clothes. The artists stand around the naked person and draw..   http://www.kudelka.com.au/?p=202

If you create a Google alert for the search term "life drawing" you will meet some of the artists in this subculture who post their work and who write about their groups.  Other pre-Internet artists are out there by the thousands drawing nake people without posting.