I attended the life drawing classes again this semester and really enjoyed myself. I didn't go to as many, but I really feel like I'm progressing. There's something very rewarding about them, since you are given time limits - a nice shake-up from the relatively loose schedule of the studio. This time, I attended the untutored ones, which allowed me to do more long poses, since the model usually asks what lengths everyone wants. The sessions were really empty this semester, so you got to have a more conversational/interactive time with them too.
I primarily experimented with two mediums this semester. The first were oil sticks, which are a greasier version of oil pastels. I enjoyed how they essentially allowed me to paint without having to get out the whole gear. The finish you get is almost sculptural and they allow for a nice range of tones. I first utilised them directly on paper, though I then started priming the paper as it absorbed the oil too quickly, stopping me from scraping the pigment away. I used them with white spirit and linseed oil, which was great for the longer poses and to stretch the tonal range.
The only issue I had with them was that you don't have exact control over where you laid down pigment and they didn't allow for much detail. For the second half of the semester, I switched back to charcoal which you can far better control. Though I noticed that you have to be far more gentle with them if you want a variety of tone since you an easily apply it very dark/wipe it all away.
In general, I think the tonal range in these pieces is my strongsuit. The main part I’d like to improve on though is the foreshortening. In many pieces, limbs are shrunken or stretched out.
This practice also made me realise how I am sometimes not concentrated enough while drawing. My stronger drawings tend to be when I’m more focused, since I notice more subtle details. This may sound obvious, but it’s something I hadn’t realised until I managed to enter that headspace during some of these sessions. Though this also needs to be balanced by a more intuitive general apprehension of the drawing, as I also sometimes get too bogged down by the details which can lead to the aforementioned foreshortening.
I’m really happy with my life drawings this semester. Though they don’t directly relate to the rest of my practice, they’re really useful at training my eye, playing with materials and informing how I record my observations. They also give energy to my workflow and provide great structure to my studies. I wish to attend them more regularly next year, as I think they’ll provide a nice change of pace from the dissertation/degree show work.