This will be a first for me - exhibiting some of my life-drawing. I have thoroughly enjoyed attending the untutored sessions at Harbour House, Kingsbridge, but never exhibited the results of these endeavours. For most artists, even if the human form does not actually feature in their work, the discipline of life-drawing helps to train the eye, by acutely observing and translating a complex three dimensional object on to a two dimensional surface. The techniques and media employed in the process can of course vary enormously, though what normally springs to mind with ‘life-drawing’ is a linear rendition, anatomically faithful, with maybe subtle chiaroscuro planes of undulating tone. However, the human form itself can simply be used as a starting point to investigate and interpret specific aspects of the subject’s form, the light, the colour, even the emotion of the pose, resulting in a semi-abstract, impressionistic or expressive interpretation.
Being part of a social group regularly sharing this activity provides the incentive to keep practicing, training the eye, rather like fine-tuning muscle memory. It also affords you a peak at the infinite variety of other people’s creative responses, using different mediums, and adopting different perspectives. The group environment essentially allows you to see and learn from how others interpret and experiment and the end goal of an exhibition encourages further experimentation as you transpose drawings into art that can evolve beyond mere documentation.
Life-drawing as an actual experience can be very immersive like meditation, in that one gets totally lost in the moment, the endeavour, to the extent that life’s stresses, strains and worries get put to one side, left at the door for the duration. In this regard the time spent is both therapeutic and liberating. One can definitely experience an intangible, uplifting sense of well being, maybe a sense of achievement, a flooding of positive endorphins after a good session of drawing, similar to how you feel after an hour of focussed exercise.
Just as musicians or sportsmen practice their skill, I believe this regular exercise of observing, interpreting visually and honing the skill of drawing, is a very effective way of getting artistic muscles moving, avoiding artists’ block and enjoying art in its most simple, purest form, with no strings attached, no pressure of an end goal, no brief to fulfil, just the sheer unadulterated pleasure of drawing and mark making.