Bring life drawing opportunities closer to home.
Author: Sonia Reeder-Jones
There are a few life drawing groups that meet weekly or monthly within an hour or two drive from where I live. I signed up for a couple of these studio classes and traveled to attend.
It was great and I enjoyed it. Most of these groups do a series of short poses lasting between 5-30 minutes each.
It’s good practice, but I found I couldn’t get inside the form in that amount of time. I wanted more time to focus on features and anatomy. I wanted to walk away with more of a finished piece of art.
Create opportunities to draw from life by drawing those closest to you. Over the course of one winter, I woke early each day and snuck quietly into my toddler's room to draw her while she slept.
The time I was allowed to draw was dependent upon if I accidentally woke her or if she tossed and turned. It was unpredictable. Unpredictability allowed me to let go of the outcome.
I wasn’t aiming for a finished drawing, just focusing on nailing down proportions. Ask family, friends and acquaintances to sit for you.
In order to bring life drawing closer to home and get longer poses, I started a local life drawing group. This group meets in a local community room.
The room is often used for meetings, family reunions, baby showers and such. We've also met in the local coffee shop, the theater and the park.
We hire a local resident to be our model. We draw or paint one single pose over the four hour period, taking breaks at 20 minute intervals. Each artist pitches in to pay our model.
Focusing on one pose for four hours offers time to focus on proportions, get inside of the form and gets each of us closer to a finished work of art by the end of the session.
Many communities have a building or meeting room available for family reunions, meetings and other gatherings. Our local library has a community room available for a small deposit or rental fee. Ask around in your community and secure a location for life drawing sessions.
We draw a clothed model as many of our artist are portrait artists. Occasionally, we have a costumed model. If your group prefers to draw nude models, secure a private location.
Many communities have art organizations. Ask your local art organization if they might sponsor your life drawing group.
Their sponsorship may help you secure a location at a discounted rate. Their sponsorship may offer you other benefits or opportunities otherwise not available to your group. Their support may open the door for grant opportunities for your group.
Approach local residents and ask if they might model for your art group. After all, people are everywhere. You may be surprised how many will say "yes" if you'll just ask.
Simply explain that you have a drawing group that meets once a month, every two weeks, whatever your schedule happens to be. Explain that you hire local people to sit for the group. Ask if they might be interested in modeling.
Explain how much they'll be paid for their time, how long you would like them to model. Be sure to mention they get to take breaks and enjoy refreshments.
Exchange contact information. Reach out to your model several days prior to your session to confirm they still plan to attend. Often, I have a backup model arranged just in case.
While some people may be intimidated by the thought of modeling for art, others find it an intriguing opportunity. Many will find it to be a fun experience. Our group has a list of favorite models, each of whom have modeled for our group many times.
Go through your contact list and reach out to any artist you may know. Invite them to attend. Ask them to extend the invite to their contact list.
Contact local art guilds near you and extend the invitation to their members. Ask if they might include information about your life drawing sessions in their newsletter.
Some libraries and community buildings have a bulletin board. Make a poster to advertise your next session. Start a Facebook page or ask one of your artists to start and manage a page for your group.
There are many ways you can reach out to other regional artists. Once you have established the minimum you need to pay your model, you can divide that cost between the attending artists.
If it's agreed that each artist will pitch in $10 at each session to cover the model, you know how many artists must attend to cover your model fees.
As new artists attend your life drawing sessions, add their contact info to your email list. Email out a reminder the week prior to each session. Include the date, time, location and any other relevant information about the upcoming drawing session.
Some artists may prefer to be notified through social media or text. Whatever method you choose to communicate, keep your contact list updated to simplify your planning process.
Refreshments can be as simple as a bag of cookies and a pot of coffee. We often bring fruit and cookies.
The community room we use provides a coffee pot. We bring the coffee, coffee filters and disposable cups. Feel free to keep it simple and adapt to your group's preferences and personalities.
Provide a drop cloth for each artist. If you are using a rented community room, you may have to pay a small deposit. A drop cloth may be necessary to protect the flooring from art supplies and minimize clean up.
One simple light stand can provide sufficient light to light your model. A folding light stand is convenient for travel.
Use LED bulbs to minimize the heat that the bulb puts off. Your model may be sitting near this light for several hours. The heat from the light bulb can become uncomfortable.
Check the color temperature when purchasing light bulbs. This is especially important if you're using more than one bulb to light your model. You may want both to be a warm or golden light or both to be a cool bluish white light.
Lower temperature bulbs produce a warm golden light. Medium temperature bulbs product a more neutral white light. Cooler temperature bulbs produce cool light or mimic daylight.
Look for bulbs with higher number of lumens if you'd like a brighter light.
Plan ahead when posing your model. Provide comfortable seating.
A lack of comfort can affect your model's ability to hold a pose for an extended period of time. Prioritize the comfort and well being of your model.
When sending or posting the invitation to attend, be sure to include a list of what artists should expect to bring. If drawing paper is provided, let them know. If they need to bring easels, let them know.
A small kitchen time can be used to signal breaks time. Our group often lets the model set and control the timer to ensure they get a break at the appropriate time. This frees the artists up to focus on creating artwork.
Often someone will volunteer to take charge of setting a timer on their phone. Plan ahead and be sure some method of time keeping is available.
Provide a simple jar or container to collect model money as artists arrive. We put our "model money" jar on the corner of our refreshment table.
We're consistent so artists always know where to put their model money when they come in to the session. Welcome the model to grab their "model money" from the jar at the end of each life drawing session.