|1/2/21 Shawna, 30-second poses (I loved the energy and rhythm expressed by these dance gestures!)|
Shawna is one of my favorite life-drawing models. I have drawn her more often than any other model, so perhaps I’ve had more opportunities to learn her proportions and shape, but beyond that, she is surely one of the best. It’s certainly challenging enough to hold any pose for 20 minutes, but in my experience, the true skill of a life-drawing model is revealed by his or her short poses. Drawing 30 unique and expressive 30-second poses without a break is downright exhilarating! Whew – what a workout! And as training for “real” people in the urban landscape, there is no better practice short of doing the real thing. By the time I got to the five-minute poses, they felt too long!
Now that all life-drawing models have been forced to take their business outside of the art school studio and into their own homes, they can’t depend on a monitor to manage their lighting for the benefit of artists. I have drawn enough models on Zoom during the past year to realize that not many understand the importance of lighting. Shawna’s many years of experience have made her an expert at this sometimes subtle but critical part of successful life drawing.
|2-min. poses (My favorites of the session, the 2-minute poses were made next to a window that cast a lovely light.)|
Creative and always motivated to give artists inspiring, varied poses and moods, Shawna put each set of poses in a different area of her home. At Saturday’s session on Zoom, she posed against a wall, in her bathroom, on a stairway, and next to a window (my favorite lighting that day). Based on prompts developed for improvisational acting, each set of poses expressed a theme, such as “New Year’s Eve party,” “attention getter” and “rainy afternoon.” As much actor as model, she is a joy to sketch. I only hope I am able to capture the expressive energy she puts into each pose.
|3- and 2-minute poses|
Technical notes: Typically I use wet media such as a brush pen for extremely short poses, but I thought I’d give something dry a try this time: Prismacolor Art Stix. Soft as crayons, they moved fast enough, and I kept the drawings small so I could keep up with Shawna’s 30-second pace (the pages shown are in a 7-by-10-inch Canson XL 98-pound Mix Media sketchbook). I had an easier time with Art Stix on poses of at least one minute, though. The Kuretake Brush Writer is still one of my favorites when I have to move as quickly as possible.
My daily hand drawings continue to teach me something every day, far beyond the form of my own hand. My primary material for those has been toned paper with drawing tools in a dark color and white. That simplicity has trained me to see forms in terms of shadow and light better than any other practice I’ve tried. I especially notice what I’ve learned during life-drawing sessions when I have to identify and capture the shadow and light immediately with no time for more than a few strokes.