Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Life drawing

Courtesy of a lovely mate who works there, I did life drawing in the RA. The RA!!! I can't get over it.* It's the art geeks' equivalent of running out onto Wembley Stadium. Turner, Blake, Constable. Me.

I thought the room would be a big old draughty intimidating hall, but it was small, ramshackle & cosy, with those curved benches that you get in medical lecture rooms. And a great model (I believe it is not etiquette to pass personal remarks upon the model, but I really wanted to tell her she was gorgeous - an older woman, amazingly delicate and graceful, like a racehorse.)

Life drawing is hard work because you have to concentrate so hard. And when you look at what you've done (and at other people's work), the result of all that concentration & effort, you want to cry.

In Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, a fascinating book about the brain even if you're not into art, Betty Edwards points out that most adults' drawing ability doesn't develop past about the level of a 12 year old.

That's kind of shocking. Imagine if our writing or speaking skills didn't develop past the age of 12. Clearly, it's because we don't need to draw to get by. But we're losing a lot. When you draw you're observing and problem solving all the time. It's one of the most direct ways to reach a flow state. And as Milton Glaser puts it, drawing is thinking. He quotes neurologist Frank Wilson "When children are prevented from drawing, their brains don't develop fully."

I don't do it for any intellectual reason though, for me it's like mainlining pleasure. And as one of my tutors said, printmaking has the reputation of being art for people who don't know how to draw. I want to be able to draw. Or at least get past the age of 12.

Not one of mine, but Picasso's. Someone who was born knowing how to draw. Bastard.

* RA schools is the only 3 year full funded postgrad art course in the country. Surprisingly and somewhat disappointingly, the tutor did not take one glance at my masterly pencil sketches and demand that I study there immediately.


  1. How wonderful. i used to draw and miss it. I fear I'm rubbish now.

  2. Aw! Get back to it, join a class, I can recommend it. It's a low cost, portable activity too...