There are many drop-in life drawing classes around Melbourne, which are fantastic for artists who have experience in drawing from the figure. Here at Melbourne Art Class, we run a unique, six-week Introduction to Life Drawing Course, tutored by a number of our talented artists / teachers. We have designed this course for students who would like to learn the fundamentals of life drawing and receive one-on-one tuition in a supportive environment. During this course, students learn different techniques for drawing the figure, and many of our students complete the course multiple times to hone in on different skills with our teachers’ guidance.
Our current Life Drawing Course is presented by Hilmi Baskurt, and the students have achieved incredible results in such a short time! You can see some of their brilliant work below.
Our next Life Drawing Course will be presented by artist Jesse Dayan, and this will sadly be his final short course at MAC. It has been an absolute honour having Jesse teach our Life Drawing short courses, and we are very fortunate that he will still be able to run Life Drawing workshops here at Melbourne Art Class in the future.
You can find out more about our tutored Life Drawing Courses and enrol here.
We had a full class for Term 3 Painting and our students produced some incredible work which we are very proud of and would love to share.
Four sessions over the ten weeks were dedicated to painting from one life model, in an ongoing pose. Painting the figure is difficult but a wonderful way to develop as a painter. Marco is able to guide students through the drawing foundations of the painting through to the final techniques. The focus in these session was on establishing fundamental processes for painting in a short time. Marco helped students create fleshy tones, finding the lights and darks, and using colours you wouldn’t normally associate with flesh. He was also aware of the different painting techniques of his students, and made sure his tuition only enhanced their personal style. You can see the different works produced below:
Long-time student Felice has a background in folk art which meant that she has a good mastery of certain brush techniques which have gradually expanded with her recent participation in the course.
Megan has been with Melbourne Art Class for a couple of years now and is a prolific oil painter. Megan returned to painting after many years away and has become an extremely effective painter.
Monika is a Graphic Designer by day but maintains a love for painting and continues to develop her painting technical skills. She has a natural disposition to describing the figure through painting.
This term we have introduced a short painting course – Painting from a Life Model with Marco Corsini. During this seven-week course, students will be encouraged to develop drawing skills, conceptual understanding and technical proficiency in painting.
When: Saturdays, 7th November to December 19th, 9am – 11.30am
Where: Enderby Studio, 314 Church Street, Richmond.
“Marco teaches traditional/proper painting techniques and methods from the basics, taking time to explain all facets of painting. I find the content inspiring and extremely beneficial to my art practice. I trust in Marco’s experience and knowledge and appreciate his very personable style of teaching.”
It may feel like it obstructs your creativity, however learning the basic proportions of the human figure will help you produce accurate first drawings. I know I have reached a near finishing-point in a sketch only to realise that the shoulders are not wide enough, or the torso is too long. With practise, and really seeing and measuring the human form, these inaccuracies will diminish.
You can measure the below proportions of the body on yourself. Some people are surprised when they find out that the bottom of their nose lines up with their ear, or that they are eight heads tall. We’ve listed these proportions below as a basic guide to the human body (an average adult):
An adult’s head:
When you draw the oval of your head, divide it vertically and horizontally. Front on, you can fit five eyes along the horizontal line (not including the ears); draw your two eyes in the middle with one left in between. The pupils will be on this line.
The bottom of the nose is about one and a half eye widths down from the eye line.
One eye width beneath the nose are the lips.
The ears start from the top of the eye and finish at the top of the mouth.
An adult’s body:
A “perfect” adult’s body (developed during the Renaissance) measures eight heads high. It helps if you draw the head and then number another seven heads beneath it (see diagram below).
Draw the pelvis between spaces three and four as a flattened circle. This is important because it is the body’s centre of gravity and stability. You can then draw the line of the spine from the head to the top of the pelvis.
The thighs will fill the space between four and six, and the calves between seven and eight.
The torso begins halfway between one and two and touches the pelvis.
The shoulders are three head widths on the top of the torso line.
Draw a line down from the top of the shoulders to the fourth head. These are the arms. Elbow joints sit at space number three, wrists at four and your hands take up the space to five.
Practicing life drawing
These basic proportions will aid you to see the human body in sections and will help you produce a more accurate drawing.
It is important to practice as much as you can and get exposure to different human forms if you want to master drawing the figure.
1. Life drawing helps improve your fundamental drawing skills
Drawing the figure demands a lot of an artist as the anatomical and structural complexity of the figure is difficult to master. Many artists use drawing from a model to see and describe subtle nuances of proportion, tone, texture, space and gesture.
2. Drawing from a model increases the fluency and economy of your drawing.
With the inevitable time limitations of a Life Drawing session and the range of expression available from a Life Model, an artist can constantly find new and more economical ways to describe the figure. The possibilities for expression available to an artist are virtually unlimited.3.
3. Drawing the body tunes you to the visual proportions, rhythms and harmonies of the body
As with drawing from nature in general, working from the body’s complex proportions, rhythms and harmonies can tune an artist in to many rich visual possibilities. This could prove useful in in other fields such as architecture, design, various forms of composition and engineering. It could even help art practice!
4. Drawing as a form of meditation
Drawing from a Life Model encourages you to focus your mind upon and respond to the human body and to a human being. Not only is this a great way of clearing your mind but it can invite a reality check by reminding us of our common humanity.
5. Drawing from life is better than drawing from photographs
An authentic experience in our digital era is becoming more of a rarity. Life Drawing allows you to see and capture the human body with a sensitivity and understanding that you simply cannot achieve through copying a photograph.
6. Drawing within a group encourages learning
Life Drawing classes not only bring like-minded people together, they also help artists explore a variety of ways to approach a single subject.
We do not often have the privilege of viewing individual artists’ processes, and Life Drawing classes encourage sharing and critiquing of work in a relaxed and non-judgemental environment. You will always find artists of varying skills in a Life Drawing class.
MAC’s next tutored Life Drawing Short Course with Jesse Dayan begins on October 30. Find out more information here.
MAC Drawing tutor, Jesse Dayan will be exhibiting at C3 Contemporary Art Space with Adrian and Daniel Stojkovich. The exhibition entitled, ‘Where Were You? All Things’, features reproduced images from major historical/political junctures in Latin American history. The artists are attempting to recover something from history that is only perceptible from a distance. Perhaps a narrative or an indication of the primordial conflict beneath the political?
‘Where Were You? All Things’
June 25 – July 13
Opening night Wednesday June 25th 6 – 8 pm
C3 Contemporary Art Space
1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford VIC 3067 Open 10am – 5pm Wednesday to Sunday
As part of her painting studies in our Studio Art Program, Jo Wellington completed this wonderful copy of a part of Eugene Delacroix’s, The Orphan Girl at the Cemetery, 1823-1824. Jo studied Delacroix’s painting technique and use of colour in order to undertake this work.
“Despite its status as the presumed art commodity par excellence, painting has regained new conceptual force. This lecture will argue that part of the reason for this is painting’s singular capacity to store time, and to articulate it in a range of different tempi. Painting can occupy several time zones at once.”
On the 19th of December 2013, American art historian David Joselit gave a lecture at MADA (Monash Art Design & Architecture) faculty on the subject Where is Painting?. This is a brief summary of the lecture based on notes taken during the talk, all direct quotes from the lecture are made by Joselit and are in quotation marks. (Thank you to Melissa Corbett who has passed on these notes. M.C.)
The lecture began with Joselit placing the role of art within the context of our current society. He started out by saying that “Art is a signifier of value in speculative economies”, with terms associated with art used to impart connotations of glamour and mystique on a variety of luxury consumer goods from wine to cars, to new boutique apartments springing up in residential neighbourhoods that used to be home to vibrant artistic communities but have long since been driven out by gentrification. This ability to confer meaning onto other commodities within the economy makes art a meta-commodity.*
According to Joselit, it is “Modern art’s unlimited capacity for meanings and action, standing for the passage of time, futurity. For eternity unlike changing realm of politics.” This ability of art to transcend time, to reside in a state of both timelessness and timeliness can be illustrated by the way that a painting by Velasquez can still be appreciated by us today and relevant to a contemporary audience long after the disappearance of the Habsburg dynasty from Spain. This transcending of time happens in the very act of creating a painting or as Joselit stated the “Marking and storing of time in painting occurs at the same time.”
In his attempt to rehabilitate art from it’s current role in commodity culture, Joselit is interested in referring to the scoring experience within painting, as an alternative to Debord’s idea of the “accumulation of spectacle”** within art criticism. This idea of scoring – the way that time is marked within an artwork, is explored in further detail during his analysis of the painting by Eggerer.
Joselit observes a definitive break within the history of painting in Western art, noting that “After Pollock the gestural stroke became external rather than an expression of the internal.” Artists have tried to address this relentless trend towards the external within modern civilization in a number of ways; some contemporary strategies as identified by Joselit listed below***:
– Scoring painting’s circulation: series or ensembles eclipse unique individual works;
– Use of technological application of painting: inkjet printer; evolving digital animation;
– Souvenir of life, subset of life in the artwork eg. reproducing a blog as a painting.
After going through this list of trends within contemporary art, Joselit suggested the idea of the interface as a way for artists to mediate their role between internal and external reality or experience.
Interface: “A way of bringing the edge to the centre. A way of communicating the reality of something that was previously unseen or inaccessible.” For example the development of the GUI (graphical user interface) in computing enabled users to easily give commands in natural language to a computer to execute certain functions and see the results of these commands / functions, without needing extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the computer itself.
The lecture then looked at the enduring influence of Marcel Duchamp on contemporary art. This was summarized as: “Duchamp’s Doubt = remediation”. An in-depth lecture by Joselit exclusively on Duchamp is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zh-rSG5rpU
The final section of the lecture is an analysis of the Thomas Eggerer painting Floor Piece. It is a demonstration of how an artist can use a variety of different mark-making techniques in a painting to result in a scoring of time.
Painting marks the movement of pictures:
– Collage – “the entry of something from the world into art, the traffic between the world into art, the traffic between the world and internal of representation – internal threshold of interfaces.”
– Scoring of time – illustrated in the table below.
Scoring of time
Sketching = fast
Effect of artist’s actions
Stuttering = repetition of elements
Effect of artist’s actions
Dripping and staining = slow movement of paint
Effect of painting itself
“Paintings that employ a combination of these techniques result in the painting occupying a range of different time zones, in the case of Eggerer’s Floor Piece the dislocated body occupies different zones of the physical painting and time.”
“Painting slows the image down to a geological pace.” A kind of “modulation of velocity”.
“Painting can present a composition of complex time signatures – capacity to be both slow and fast, resulting in painting having a timeless quality that is able to communicate to us through the ages.”
At the end of the lecture members of the audience were able to ask Joselit questions in regards to the lecture. One of the questions related to the common site of people taking photos of artworks in galleries and museums. Joselit’s thoughtful response to this common practice was that the way galleries and museums were frequently laid out and the large numbers of people moving through the exhibition spaces did not lend itself to people spending a long amount of time contemplating a single artwork. This sensory and information overload resulted in people taking photos of artworks for electronic storage which could then be returned to for future contemplation and perhaps be curated into their own private exhibition on a computer or social media.
* Within Marxist analysis this process of commodification within capitalism is summarized as the subverting of the use value (the amenity of a house to live in with your family) in favour of it’s exchange value (the realization of what your house is worth in financial terms when you sell it) within the economy.
** “In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”
From the landmark 1967 text “The Society of the Spectacle” by the French Marxist philosopher & sociologist Guy Debord, see here for online version:
To briefly summarize, within late capitalist society the image is the primary mediator between the individual and social reality, best exemplified by the important role of advertising and marketing in contemporary society and economics. “The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”
*** Explored in more detail in David Joselit’s article “Painting Beside Itself”: