Sunday, 8 May 2011

Life drawing class with Neil Moore.

Why life drawing? Because although very hard to do, it is a wonderful way of learning to draw. It's a good pain!

I decided to treat myself to a life drawing class with Neil Moore in Shottery yesterday. (There's a posting on the village of Shottery here; it's most famous as being the childhood home of Ann Hathaway, wife of William Shakespeare.)

I like to draw people and put them in paintings and recently, into textiles, but usually I work from photos. This is because a photo can catch those expressions of surprize, delight, horror, anger etc that are so fleeting, and no amount of posing by a model can get that instant true moment of body language. Currently, I have a plan to paint a portrait of someone sucking could you persuade anyone to hold that pose for the hours it takes me to paint a portrait?

However, I also like drawing, and want to be better at it.  It's processes are very satisfying and absorbing, and the most difficult for me, is without a doubt, life drawing.

As I mentioned, some poses are very difficult for the model to hold, so you have to be quick in order to capture it. With a bit of luck, this gives a looseness and spontaneity to a drawing.

Neil Moore, is a very accomplished life painter and drawer, and an experienced teacher. I've been to a couple of his classes before so knew what to expect, but thought I'd blog about it just in case anyone else out there needs a spot of encouragement to try.

 So here's my efforts by way of said encouragement!

The studio is above the Memorial Hall in Shottery, and is a reasonable size with good light from skylights. It's hot because the room has to be kept warm for the model, so wear light clothing! Tea and coffee with biscuits is provided and there is a 1 hour lunch break with most people opting to go to the pub for fortification.

No matter what classes you go to, you will always be with people that have much better drawing skills than yourself, but don't let lack of confidence or perceived inablitiy put you off.

There was only one occasion where we were invited to look at others work, and that was after one of the quick left handed poses, but if you prefer not to share, I'm sure this would be ok.  I confess to being a corner lurker myself.

So to start with, you have a series of very short poses done in what ever media you want; charcoal, graphite, pencil, pen and ink, markal sticks etc. These quick poses are designed to loosen up and get the brain into drawing mode.

The image on the left was done with my left hand (I'm right handed) and holding a rollerball pen at the very end between one finger and a thumb. The pen wasn't taken off the paper at any point, and the object was to keep going without stopping.

I think the proportions for left handed poses have come out better than the one's I did right handed which is intriguing.

More rollerball pen wobbles!

We also had a chance to do longer poses (about half an hour). I'd taken some gessoed newspaper, and used markal sticks and water colour for the one on the left.

This was an attempt at removing charcoal from paper using a rubber to get the image, but I don't think I put enough charcoal on to start with. It was quite hard work.

 And this one, which I liked best. I love this pose and wish I'd used my camera so I could use this for a textile piece.

I needed prompting to get the legs right as I'd made them far too fat, and I despair that I didn't see this for myself, but hey ho, I'm getting better I think.


  1. love this curled up pose too. great drawing. There are so many short cuts we've got to overcome in the brain when going back to observational drawing. My hardest one is the automatic asumption of my own proportions get transfered onto the model so I keep fighting with certain bits that have a habit of not feeling right as they're different on the model. Also many of my faces end up having echos of my own!

  2. p.s. (thanks for the super information on the dyeing!)

  3. You're more than welcome Suzanne (for the dyeing) and you're so right about the life drawing. I kept making a huge bum and thighs and boobs. I thought it was because I just enjoyed exaggerating the curves...but, maybe, I'm superimposing myself. It's certainly true that I find curvy models with lumps much more interesting!

  4. lovely drawings Annabel.
    Life drawing is always a challenge,I find hands so difficult to draw.

  5. oh they look wonderful! one day i'll be brave enough to go to a drawing class.....

  6. You have a real talent for drawing the figure. I'm always dabbling in drawing myself, but can't get too interested as then I will have too many interests and there's just not enough time to do everything.

  7. I found this helpful thank you. Simon Stuart, Kings Heath.