Life Drawing

Life Drawing is often defended as allowable because it offers such good practice to artists in achieving something difficult. Life drawing appears to “need” defense and excuses because our society feels discomfort, and even guilt, at the nakedness (including especially the open sexual character) of the models. Drawing people does offer good practice, and it is very difficult to do well; apples, tables, mountains, oceans, horses, and ideas share the same qualifications. The defense doesn’t work. A fall-back from the first defense is that, in life drawing, an artist is using simply the body, not the person, to depict. Where this is true (and teachers, artists, and models often think they should make it true), the number one reality of the model, self, is being skipped. This is damaging to each person involved in a life-drawing session, as well as to the art that results from it.

An alternate approach begins with the declaration that what is most likely to fascinate us is people – ourselves as people and others as people – and that what fascinates us most about people is likely to hold greatest importance in our art. The less clothing someone is wearing, the more person is available to draw – if that person can project self while naked. Some of us can’t do that – and turn out, after a while, to be very boring as models. There are a good many books written to help artists learn to use their tools correctly in life drawing; but there are not many books which are designed to help artists and models work together with each other as fellow human beings and as co-contributors to the development of works of art. This tries to be such a book.

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