Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Warming Up

1/12/16 Winsor Newton watercolor marker (1-min. poses)
By a stroke of luck (a cancelled meeting this morning), today was the second of what I hope will be three times in two weeks that I’ll be able to make it to life drawing at Gage – exactly what I need on these cold, wet, gloomy days. Compared to last Thursday, which was the first time I’d been to life drawing in months, today I felt a lot less creaky. It’s especially apparent in the one-minute poses: Look at these from today (at left) compared to the ones from last week (at right, below) – my hand and arm seemed to move much more easily.

Like last week, I used a non-hairy Zebra double-sided brush pen for the shorter poses
1/7/16 Zebra double-sided brush pen (1-min. poses)
(five minutes or less) and a
Sailor fude Nagomi hairy brush pen for the 10- and 20-minute poses. Today I also pulled out a Winsor Newton watercolor marker for the one-minute poses. (It has a tapered, non-hairy, compressed-fiber tip similar to the various Japanese brush pens I reviewed, except it’s a bit firmer. One of these days I might review it, although I use it only as a marker and not as a blendable watercolor applicator as it is designed to be, so I’m not taking full advantage of its qualities.)

I’m really enjoying the combo of these two types of brush pens for life drawing. The compressed-fiber tips move quickly, which is essential for short poses. And for the longer poses, I can linger a while with the hairy Nagomi, which imparts a surprisingly fine, nearly hair-width line at its very tip (see the detail sketches I made of the model’s hands, below).

“Lingering a while,” by the way, is a relative term at life drawing. After warming up on 20 one-minute poses, every longer pose after that feels leisurely. Ten minutes is downright languid, and 20 minutes is almost too long – I sometimes finish early and have time left over to make additional small detail sketches. 

1/12/16 Zebra brush pen (2-min. poses)
Although drawing nude models doesn’t seem like applicable practice for urban sketching (unless you’re planning to sketch at a nude beach; if I ever do, I’ll be ready), I do find the speed practice very useful. When I know I have only one minute (or two or five or even 10) to capture a pose, I have to decide quickly which lines to focus on and leave most of the details alone. That’s not a bad skill to practice, no matter the subject matter, for sketching on location. Even with a building or other stationary object, you never know when it might start raining or a truck will park in front of you. As for people, the main difference between sketching at life drawing and sketching in a coffee shop is that you aren’t told whether the guy sipping his latte will leave in one minute or 30.

1/12/16 Sailor Nagomi brush pen (10-min. pose)
1/12/16 Sailor Nagomi brush pen (20-min. pose)
1/12/16 Sailor Nagomi brush pen (20-min. pose)


  1. Nice to see how smooth and much more confident you lines look this week. We get rest when we don't practice something, but quickly bounce back! How great that you were able to get there again.

    1. Thanks, Joan! It's really fun to be getting back into life drawing!

      - Tina


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