Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ups and Downs of a Figure Drawing Student

P1000629This is a semi-accurate copy I did of John Singer Sargent’s “Mrs. Horace Webber.” I wonder if he had to struggle with figure drawing.

Figure drawing to me is an immensely enjoyable, frustrating, and, I have to admit, humbling experience. Every Monday morning, full of vim and vigor (or with as much vim and vigor one can have on a Monday morning), I head out to our weekly Figure Drawing group. My goal is to get a really good drawing of our model, a good likeness, a good expression, the whole shebang……..and at times I do.

Most of the time, though, I don’t reach that goal, and for those times I have learned to scale down my expectations…. at times, way, way down……like, being happy just to get the species right…..I once actually ended up with a horse’s head instead of a detailed study of the model’s nose. I admit, that was a low point. At other times, I have to be content just to get the gender right, or the ethnicity. And if I can nail all of those, I’m usually still far away from my goal. That’s a good time to cultivate my sense of mystery and anticipation over who might show up on my drawing paper. Once it was Paul Newman (the model’s name was Tim), and the next time I tried my hand at drawing Tim, Muammar Gadhafi showed up. Blessings to the person who invented erasers!!!!

I would think knowing the model really well would help. Not necessarily. I couldn’t get a decent likeness of my darling husband of 31 years. Big sigh.

But then there are the times, when the drawing works out, and I can see the person I’m trying to capture emerge. And when artists and teachers I respect say, “this is really good,” and mean it, I know I’ve been making progress.