Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Shawna’s Timer


1/16/21 Shawna, 30-second poses (The 30-second narrative poses were about playing volleyball, which occasionally
morphed into soccer.)

By coincidence, I had two back-to-back days of Zoom life drawing with Shawna – the first sponsored by Gage Academy, and the second organized by Shawna herself.

You’ve already heard me talk about how much I enjoy drawing this dynamic model for many reasons. Another useful aspect of Shawna’s life drawing sessions is that she uses a timer that has a large digital readout facing the camera, so participants can always see how much time they have left. During the extremely short 30-second poses, I ignore the timer; my eyes are glued to the pose and barely even look down at my sketchbook – that’s how fast I’m going. With anything longer, however, Shawna’s timer has a benefit that I’m learning how to take advantage of.

1/16/21 30-second poses

Regardless of the pose duration, I begin all the drawings by making an initial line of action (which is easiest to see and draw on the shaded side, if the model is well-lighted) – the head, torso, legs, arms, sometimes the angle of the shoulders or hips. In 30 seconds, that’s usually all I have time for. With longer poses, I can correct proportions and add shading or details. I may choose different media depending on the pose duration, but the general technique is the same for all pose lengths. Regardless of the duration, my goal is to capture as much of a complete figure as I can.

1/16/21 30-second poses

The benefit of Shawna’s timer is that it is teaching me how to pace myself. For example, during a five-minute pose, if I look up and see that I still have a minute remaining, I know I don’t have time for details, but I have time to deepen the shading so that the form will be better defined. If I look up and see that I have a minute left but all I’ve captured is her head, then I need to remind myself to get the whole line of action, and quickly.

1/16/21 1-min. poses (In this 1-minute set, Shawna depicted swimming in cold water.)

My objective is to capture as much of the whole figure as possible to train myself for “real life” drawing. When I first began sketching, this happened frequently: In a coffee shop, my “model” would suddenly walk off – and all I had was a detailed but disembodied head floating over a café table. I didn’t know how to fake the body, so the sketch was left unfinished in a dissatisfying way. I haven’t had that kind of mishap in a long time, but I always need practice. (It’s been so long since I’ve sketched people in a coffee shop . . . do I even know how to do it anymore? I hope life drawing will keep me from getting too rusty.)

1/15/21 2-min. poses (During this fun set, Shawna attempted to form the letters of the alphabet.)

1/16/21 3-min. poses (Here, she was fighting off a mouse with an umbrella.)

1/15/21 5-min. poses

1/16/21 5 min. poses (These were especially fun to try with white colored pencil on black paper! It was a momentary mind-bender to switch from looking for the shaded side of the figure to the lighted side.)

1/15/21 10-min. poses


  1. These are great! You are getting better and better at capturing her poses, especially the short poses.

    1. Thank you! I really love drawing those 30-second poses!


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