Updated: Nov 19, 2020
Why every artist should draw from life
Since 1932, Disney studio has offered free life drawing classes for its artists. The idea is that understanding and capturing the anatomy and sense of motion from a live model improves all your other artistic skills.
There’s something special about drawing from life. Maybe it’s the connection between you and the model, which doesn’t happen from a photo. Maybe it’s the way our eyes see things in three dimensions compared with the way photos flatten out the form. Perhaps it’s the fact that you are setting up your own composition in the moment. Whatever the reason, working from life helps you realize the real sense of the form and how to render it.
I always return to life drawing/painting when the landscape seems to have run its course. After painting out in the field all summer, I get anxious and crave something a little more intimate. Figurative work provides a shorter depth-of-field and I also enjoy the variety of the subtle warm and cool colours in the flesh tones.
Life drawing is like scales on the piano. The short sessions limber you up for the long composition. It keeps you fresh and keen with your eyes while improving your eye-hand coordination.
In order to bring vitality to your work you have to study the source. You can draw from photos or use a computer reference, but true life drawing skills will enhance your gesture, proportion, structure, perspective, and help you develop a certain expressional quality that you can apply to all your art.
Many young artists are looking for an easy way out and study styles of existing artists instead of developing their own. Drawing from life lets the real you come out. It’s the only activity that allows you to create from immediacy and brings the page to life in a mere instance.
anything else, the more you do it the better you get. The simplicity of pencil and paper allow for rapid progression of skills which are readily transferable to painting any subject.
“Good drawing forms the 'bones' on which a strong painting hangs.” Chris Bingle
Your friend in art
NOTE: If you are curious, try it out at one of our weekly Drop-In Sessions (Tuesdays 6-8pm)
P.S. My drawings from the last two and a half years will be on display throughout December at Framed on Fifth Gallery. Come down to Hanna’s and check out everything from the doodles in my sketch books to the finished figurative pieces.
Opening: December 12, 6-9pm
Address: 1207 5 Ave NW Calgary