I went life drawing last night for the first time in years. And it was a humbling experience. There’s nothing like being confronted with the real thing to remind us that everything we draw is in a kind of shorthand. It’s less a question of trying to succeed in capturing the subject than an exercise in trying to control the failure to do so. Which is why drawing from life is so important, and why I’m pleased to have found a new group to join. It’s the visual arts’ equivalent of practicing scales.
But it wasn’t just the drawing that made me feel like a student again. The heat of the room (one of us is naked, after all), the smell of fixative and charcoal dust, the furtive chalky scratchings, and – because there’s always one – the squeal of a board marker being thrown about a sheet of A1 paper, all took me back to Fridays at Norwich School of Art and Design in the 90s. And I struggle with the drawing no less now than I did then.
Don’t bother to click for a closer look – I’m sure you’ve got better things to do:)