Drawing and Painting from the Live Nude Model

Drawing and Painting From the Live Nude Model

Jackie and Sherrie discuss why drawing and Painting from the live nude model important.

Jackie:

Hi, Sherrie.

Sherrie:

 Hi Jackie.

Jackie:

Today, I thought we’d talk about a universal subject that most artists would love to hear you comment about. That is drawing and painting from the live nude model. It’s a subject artist have been captivated by for centuries really. So, what draws you to doing the beautiful drawings that I see behind you?

Sherrie:

 I’ve done a few drawings. Well, working from the nude has always been what artists have gone to in order to learn how to draw. If you can draw the human figure, then it means you can draw anything that you encounter in nature or in the world. You know through it, you learn perspective, you learn symmetry. This is because the human figure is symmetrical.

You learn how to draw different texture because a human form has a hard bone. It has soft flesh, it has hard but hard in a different way, muscle, tendons. So, what it is training you to do is to be able to visually decipher what you’re looking at. And that’s why it is the best way to learn how to draw. And that’s why people throughout history have hired models, nude models, and they work directly from life. The other aspect of that too, is working from life. I know that there are a lot of people that work from photography. For the expediency of photography and perhaps also, because it might even be cheaper to just hire somebody for a photo shoot than to actually draw from life.

Drawing and Painting From Life

But the reason that you draw from life is that what artists are always wanting to be able to do, is to be flexible and to be able to work from life. So, in order to explore the subject matter that is really something that is part of who you are, that you want to be developing as an artist. So, when you’re working from life, whether you’re in Venice and you’re trying to capture the San Marco (you know the palace there or you’re trying to capture the pigeons flying around). In other words, what it does is it makes you very flexible so that you can look at things, and understand the perspective of it. Look at it and then be able to get it in visually into your mind to be able to paint it, draw it.

What it does is it gives an artist’s tremendous flexibility. Because when you work with somebody that’s live, they are going to move. And so that is the gift that we get from life is that it moves, even flowers change, and they droop, and they die, and fruit will droop and rot. It’s part of what an artist wants to be able to do, is to be flexible enough and have enough understanding that you can go out into the world and really discover the subject matter that inspires you when it comes to drawing and painting.

Jackie:

 I love it. I guess the big elephant in the room is that now we have an international pandemic that really curtails hiring the model or going to art groups and painting from life. So, what to do?

Sherrie:

What to do? Well, it’s interesting we are now posting something on our Bright light Fine Art website, and it’s called Croquis Cafe, C-R-O- Q- U- I -S cafe. It is all of these professional models, female, and male, and they pose live, but it’s on film. A lot of people are going there and actually it’s somewhat of a substitute. Especially if you’ve been working from life. Again it’s the kind of thing that you can look at something 3D and understand how to convey that onto a flat surface. And that’s what you want to be able to do as an artist. You can also draw, just the nude of course in this way. But you can draw still like objects. You can draw trees. An artist can go out into nature and the trees are moving.

You know, if you’re like me here in Taos, I could go down the road and see a horse or a cow or donkeys at my neighbor’s yard. And anyway, so the more you can draw from live, your own pet, child. But in anything that you can do to work from life is your optimum thing. But Croquis Cafe is a lovely resource and that’s one reason that we’re posting it here. It does give you access to nude models who are actually posing in real time. So that’s much better than a photograph.

Jackie:

Yes.

Sherrie:

Which is static, so it’s not, it’s not alive and moving.

Jackie:

What are the drawbacks from drawing and painting from life? Are there any pitfalls that people should watch out for in lighting the model or standing in the wrong spot?

Sherrie:

Well when I had my local sketch group and it was still running (right now we’re not during Covid), but we’ll see, I wouldn’t call it a pitfall, but it is that they move. The one thing that you really do want to become is flexible. Flexible is about when models move and what you’re trying to do is trying to get the quality of the pose, which is basically the gesture.

If you get that gesture running away, even if they move, you still can see the arm and extrapolate information that you’re seeing, and actually get it to work on that gesture. So, it’s ideally what happens the better you are as a draftsman when there’s a certain amount of visual memory that happens. You’re not as insecure, that the model’s changing a little bit, someone’s moving a little bit. But that you’re trying to capture the spirit or the quality of the model and that’s in the gesture. And then the muscles that you put on it, the information you can put on it, is part of that gestural idea.

So, if you’re creating dimension, it’s more about the dimension. It’s not about getting every muscle correct or every vein. You know that you’re picking information that actually captures the quality of the model more fully. It’s what makes it fun. To some people it’s a pitfall, but to me it’s exciting.

Jackie:

I think that this is a subject that we definitely would come back to. I love talking to you today about this.

Sherrie:

 I always love talking about drawing and painting.

Jackie:

Yes, thank you Sherrie.

Sherrie:

 You’re welcome.

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