Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Drawing inspiration from da Vinci

I attended a Life Drawing Class yesterday - focusing on proportion. This was part of a series of events being run by the Victoria and Albert Museum alongside its exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci drawings and notebooks which I wrote about earlier this month.

(Warning - this post includes life drawings of an unclothed male model).

The class fee included entrance to the exhibition - and the class started with a quick visit to see the drawings about proportion. Yet again I marvelled at how he could draw such tiny figures in ink and at what good condition most of the work was in despite being fifteenth century. Interestingly one of sheets of small figures done in black chalk had virtually disapeared - except for the ones he had inked in. Moral of the story - draw in ink more!

The animations (which you can see online) are very impressive when seen cinema style projected on to the wall above the exhibition cases.

The class had an excellent male model who used a pole to take and hold excellent positions which revealed tension, muscular structure, sinew and veins.

Class started with five minute quickie drawings - to get used to both drawing this particular model and also to try or practice drawing with different materials before choosing which media to use when drawing the long pose. As the drawings are on a middle tone paper I've tweaked the contrast ever so slightly so you can see them more clearly.

First (see left) pencil - just using line, then pencil but only drawing tone (and no line).

Followed by charcoal and white conte, then brown/red conte and finally a seven minute drawing drawing with a brush using indian ink and adding white conte (see above).

The model then demonstrated options for the long pose and the class then chose one which was rather reminiscent of da Vinci's Vitruvian man. He turned side on to the class so that half of us had the rear view and half had the frontal perspective with just a few having a side view. His capacity to stand for long periods while using the poles was phenomenal.

I first drew in a rough shape in mechanical pencil and then developed this long pose sketch using conte pastels - with the odd bit of coloured pencil. I haven't used conte in ages and had forgotten how satisfying it can be to draw with - especially when sharpened. I finished this with time to spare so did another drawing - but forgot to photograph that one!

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  1. Well done, Katherine. Let's hope you don't really have to have a warning about nude drawings on an art blog! I know the world is going back to the Dark Ages in many ways, but in the Dark Ages, nudity was commonplace ;D.

  2. Lovely drawings. You are lucky having a choice of places that you can attend a class at. Here within driving distance there is only one that I know of in a horribly cramped studio with dead flat flourescent lighting.

  3. Excellent drawing Katherine. Its so wonderful when you have an experienced model isn't it?

    I envy you the classes you can find in London. Its rather barren grounds here at the moment.

  4. Katherine, it is always a pleasure and a learning experience to see you class drawings. You are so fortunate to have these classes at your reach.

  5. Laura - I couldn't remember what the Blogger Terms of Reference said - and I've always worked on the principle that a blog works a bit like the main internet art forums - there's nothing wrong with posting life/nude drawings but you should just give people a heads up about what they're going to see. Apparently not everyone wants to see an unclothed male torso! ;)

    Thanks everybody for the comments

    I must add that I've never had such a good male model before - even thought I've done life drawing in classes at a London art college.


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