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  • phildunn641

Life drawing

I've been going along to online drawing classes on Monday evenings. These are conducted on Zoom and led by Aldous Eversleigh from Middlesex University. There is a live model (obviously) and between 40 and 50 participants. I've not attended a life drawing class for over 30 years and to return to it in these circumstances seems rather strange.

I attend from what I'm now calling my studio - it's my daughter's bedroom where she has a desk below a loft bed. I've not talked much about this, but I'll come back to it in another post. I work with a drawing board propped on my lap between me and the desk where my PC sits. I'm generally drawing with charcoal on either an A4 sketchbook, or on A2 sheets of heavy duty cartridge paper. I've tried experimenting with laying down some colour first, using brush pens and, most recently, using oil pastels - these are very old and I've not used them for a while so I found it tricky to get going with those.

I realise now that despite having had 18 months of adult education art classes and completing a foundation diploma in art and design, these classes are really the first sequence of taught art making classes I've done since my previous life drawing evening classes. I perhaps need to explain what I mean a bit more by this. In my Drawing and Painting in the Studio and Beyond class we were given subjects and introduced to materials or techniques, but there was no demonstration and only on the odd occasion specific guidance on how to apply techniques. On the foundation diploma, we had the carousel which introduced us to different pathways, and both Applied Arts and Visual Communications taught some technical skills, but these each lasted only two days. I have no complaint about this, I think just a recognition that I'm enjoying having practical technique demonstrated and taught again.

I leave the drawing sessions both exhausted and energised. The effort of looking, thinking and mark making for a solid two hours is draining, but to have been so physically and mentally absorbed for this time, with no other distraction, and to have made something is a wonderful feeling.

There is always some element of frustration though. I do not have an abundance of materials at home so whenever I see Aldous using a mix of materials, graphite, charcoal, chalk and paint, I'm slightly disappointed that I've not been able to be particularly adventurous. I also feel a bit underprepared - even more so this week, as I thought I had prepared by painting some coloured boxes on a sheet of A2 expecting to have the usual 5 30 second, or 1 minute poses. Instead we were to try out animation by downloading and using a an app on our phones - all while drawing. I just could not get the hang of the app in the time we were working.

However, I was capturing the images all the time as we drew and was able to attempt animation after the class.

I made a couple of animations in the app, but as the free version does not allow import of images, or the export of video, I ended up using my own code to animate the images. In last sequence we were working in what I think is a William Kentridge style, where the image is adjusted by rubbing out and drawing over the previous image giving a palimpsest effect. This involved working at an incredible speed as we had 2 and half minutes per pose and that included photographing and erasing, Anatomically, my drawings are all over the place, but I think the effect works well. A good putty eraser would have been a great help though.

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