Only a few years ago, the idea of artists gathering to paint from a model would have seemed impossibly old-fashioned and hokey - and if the model was female and nude, sexist to boot. Yet for nearly three years now, a number of artists - not students putting charcoal to paper for the first time, but successful artists with established styles and audiences of their own - have flocked to Mr. Cotton's weekly invitation-only sessions.
What the writer of this column (Trendy Artists Pick Up an Old-Fashioned Habit) doesn't say, because she's not an artist who goes to life drawing sessions on a regular basis is that, in addition to being somehow foundational, weekly figure drawing is much fun and social. While life drawing connects you to a contemporary community that come together to draw, it also connects you directly on a visceral gestural level to the history of art. If you have an issue with gesture drawing you can look to Rodin, if you want to know an elegant solution to your sternocleidomastoideus line of a neck curve you can look to Michelangelo's drawings.
In literature reading and writing poetry is considered to be an ongoing multigenerational conversation, so is life drawing. And like businessmen (yes, men) strike big deals over rounds of golf, artists exchange important information during the model's breaks. We learn new techniques by working side-by-side and through conversational critiques. My group ranges from a graffiti artist whose sketch books are full of tag concepts, a sculptor who is also a physicist, a digital game artist who draws directly onto a very large laptop, a jeweler, a retired architect, and a very successful landscape painter.
I'm starting to put my life drawings on www.artwanted.com/honoria but artwanted.com has rules against nipples, genitals, and butt cracks so only some of my life drawings pass through the artwanted.com filter into in my portfolio. Since I do so many life drawings it's kind of fun to go through them to see which ones pass through the artwanted.com system. I haven't had time to put many up yet, but someday soon I'm going to build a nice little life drawing gallery there. Especially now that the NY Times has given the "trend" full-page coverage.