Back in the last century (yes, I really am that old!) when I was at art school, life drawing became one of the real joys of a creative education. I first got to grips with it while on Foundation Course at Bourneville College of Art, then carried on at Central Saint Martins and ultimately joined the fine art students at the Royal College of Art in weekly evening classes that were opened up to the whole of the RCA student community.
I’ve carried on attending life drawing classes since leaving art school because I find real escapism in stepping away from a world of emails and deadlines. Spending two whole days quietly trying to do something that is so very, very difficult, is strangely rewarding. I have also taken both my sons to their first life drawing sessions. It’s become a family rite of passage. Believe me, it doesn’t take long for teenage boys to overcome their embarrassment and realise that this is bloody hard. They have become excellent draughtsmen as a result and both continue to draw in their twenties.
Honing drawings skills
Just as a musician has to practice their scales, artists draw from a life model to hone their skills. We all know what the human figure looks like as the natural proportions are instinctively understood by everyone. Make the legs too short and the arms too long and everyone can tell. You need to look REALLY hard and be able to translate what you see onto paper, accurately. But beyond that, you need to give the figure life. That’s why it’s called ‘life’ drawing. It’s an elusive skill and I’m still searching!
So this weekend, I am off to Wales to join the artist Niel Bally in his beautiful studio for two days of studied silence. There are no mobiles, no email and remarkably little chatter, except over lunch. I will lose myself in the drawings and reconnect with why I wanted to go to art college all those years ago. I will come back both exhausted and rejuvenated. Surely that’s a good way to spend a weekend?
Rebecca at work: