Gary Hume, a graduate of Goldsmiths renowned for his paintings of simplified forms, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1996 and represented Britain at the 1999 Venice Biennale. He was made a Royal Academician in 2001. His subject is fashion model Kirsten Varley, who had never sat for a life drawing before this visit to Gary's London studio.
Kirsten Varley - Life Class with Gary Hume RA, Channel 4
pencil on heavy cartridge paper
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Today's class had Gary Hume RA as a tutor and one got the distinct impression that he doesn't do much life drawing (who has a completely untouched drawing board in a working studio?). He normally produces very simplified and very flat paintings. In principle, his approach to drawing should have been interesting. In reality it became embarassing for both him and for us. Do I mind making this sort of comment about an Royal Academician who shows his work at White Cube? No - he's a professional artist and I assume he knew what he was letting himself in for.
It was certainly a good example of the fact that when drawing from life it's very easy to make a hash of it.
Especially if you've not drawn a lot or haven't practised doing drawing from life on camera (while being watched by an awful lot of people on television)!
One of the weaknesses in this episode was the fact his model was a young lady who's a fashion model. This was the very first time she had posed for a life drawing and my goodness did it show! Not that I blame her in any way - it's a very demanding job!
I've a huge respect for professional life models and it's a great pity that Channel 4 and the people who are organising this series didn't make more of an effort to make sure that they only used professional life models. Professionals know which poses cause what sorts of problems and how to avoid/manage them. In this instance, the model struck a pose which is difficult to sustain unless you know a bit more how to distribute your weight so you don't cut off the circulation of blood! I wasn't in the least bit surprised when her posture started to alter and she had to keep moving her hand to keep the blood flowing!
His attitude when she returned to her pose and it wasn't quite the same was to adopt a "that's one of those things you have to cope with". Oh no it's not! In a proper class both model and tutor would know to put down sticky tape to mark her position before she left it!
The simple fact of the matter is that a good model really makes a difference in a life drawing class. An inexperienced model (or tutor) rarely makes things easy for the artist. I really don't think either professional models or working life tutors would be very pleased with the impression of a life class that was given in today's class.
The worst bit was it became very apparent that he knew he'd got his drawing wrong. It started with groaning and moaning and got worse. To give credit where it's due he was very open about the fact that it was going wrong and didn't make any attempt to defend it. At the end he announced that he was abandoning it and starting again. I rather suspect that he hoped that it would be the second one that was used for the class on TV!
Now as a lesson in the fact that things can and do go wrong in life class, this was an admirable effort. Whether it helped to teach anybody about how to draw is very debateable.
Here's a tip on life drawing from Gary Hume from the beginning of the class. The irony is certainly not lost on me!
In order to look you need to relax and to relax you've not got to worry about getting things wrongHere are the links for the rest of this week.
- Series 1, Episode 4 - the tutor is Judy Purbeck (in Hornsey Library)
- Series 1, Episode 5 - the tutor is John Berger (in a dance studio in Paris)
Plus I've now moved A Making A Mark Guide: Life Drawing and Life Class to my Making A Mark website. You can now read it on the website without downloading it.