Last night, I attended a life-drawing session. I feel this study of drawing strengthens your skills more than any other.
When I was studying art as an undergraduate, I was very fortunate to have an excellent life-drawing class . Our professor was a larger-than-life Greek man who was very strict while we were in the studio. From 7:00pm-10:00pm every Tuesday and Thursday night, we did our best to render to paper the model posing before us. We were not permitted to speak, except during round-table critique. We were required to stand the entire class. My teacher believed sitting while drawing was lazy and didn’t allow you to fully access the page. We worked large-scale, attacking newsprint and fine-tooth paper clipped to easels with graphite, conte-crayon, and charcoal. At the start of each class, he pushed us with rapid line- (sometimes blind-) contour drawings to loosen our arms and break us of fractional sketch work. By then end of every class, I was physically exhausted and covered in sheen of dust. Even the soles of my feet obtained a layer of charcoal from taking off my shoes to stand comfortably. The porcelain tub at the old duplex I rented had two permanent black footprints after that semester.
To this day, when I draw a live model, I always hear the voice of Bas Poulos in my head shouting (his preferred method of communication) a few of the important lessons that made me the artist I am today (these absolutely apply to writing code as well):
"Get something on the page!"
"Don't cut corners by not filling in the details!"
(Don't make it easy on yourself by not drawing fingers and toes, for example.)
"Ask yourself, 'Is this done, or is it resolved?'"
(There is a difference!)
Life-drawing is messy, unpredictable, and unforgiving. You are training the eye and hand to work together intuitively. This is not easy and requires practice, but it is worth it.
This post also appears on Medium.