Life Drawing: developing a style

I am posting this feeling particularly challenged after another life drawing day at Southampton City Art Gallery with hardworking tutor, Brian Reynolds.  Not one for long spurts of concentration, today’s 3 hour pose was always going to be an endurance event for me but little did I realise that I would leave the session feeling both confused and inspired in equal measures.  My first attempt was my usual measured, graphite representation of a human body.

"graphite sketch of supine male nude"

Graphite on cartridge paper


While this looks like a supine male nude, pretty much in proportion, I wasn’t surprised that during the breaks and the usual tour of other delegates work, no one enthused or made comment on it.  On reflection I could see a lack of energy about it, but what to do?  Brian’s suggestion was to use a drawing as a journey, i.e. not just looking at the end result but thinking of it as a map of how I got there.  So, attempt number two:

"graphite sketch of supine male nude"

graphite on paper


I think it has more energy and is definitely a “looser”drawing but sadly, we ran out of time so I didn’t get any feedback on it.  I left with lots to think about…….





3 thoughts on “Life Drawing: developing a style

  1. Nicky, I think you’re getting to the nub of what we’re doing and why we do it! Your drawings are both fantastic, most people would give their eye teeth to have your drawing skills and ability. Perhaps people didn’t comment because your first drawing was perfectly done with excellent proportion and foreshortening – you obviously know what you’re doing and it’s very good. But what made you feel there was something missing? Was it the lack of comments, or something you felt about the drawing yourself? I think it comes down to why we are doing a drawing and what gives it that special quality and the feeling you get when you know you’ve done something good, regardless of anyone else’s opinion. I’m grappling with this concept myself. I did a still life drawing this weekend, which I was really pleased with, Tony’s comment was ‘Well you’ve done it very well but I don’t like it very much, its just boxes.’ A few months I probably would have sulked and felt disparaged.. but this time I didn’t care. I know what’s inside the boxes I drew and the objects I chose have meaning and significance to me. I enjoyed doing it and liked what I did. What anyone else says or doesn’t say will be irrelevant… that’s a big breakthrough for me! I’m thinking more and more that’s it an engagement with the subject that adds a personal element to a drawing.

  2. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments Viv, they have certainly made me feel less confused about yesterday. I was actually quite pleased with my original attempt and I think it was its general dismissal on group review that made me think there was something missing from it, which was then emphasised by the tutor on a one to one basis. While I do go to workshops with an open mind and am willing to try new things, sometimes I think we also have to recognise that our character and individuality comes out in our work. While someone else’s drawing can be pointed out as having that Wow factor, that is a reflection of them and is not necessarily appropriate to us. It must be very difficult to teach such a subjective subject as drawing! The tutor’s advice was to come back to my original drawing in a few weeks time and see if I feel differently about it. We shall see………

  3. Yes, I agree, there has to be some room for our own personality to emerge – a bit like handwriting. We all learn the same basic letter formations and joining techniques, but everyone’s handwriting is different and can say something about our personality. I think the other point is, that nobody else knows how difficult you found the task and how much energy went into making it… Hard to take an indifferent response when you feel drained!

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