Twice in the past week my elders and wisers have told me that life drawing is the key to all things creative – the foundation for any practice.
I talked to abstract oil painter Janet Ambrose on her 87th birthday. Taught to paint by William Scott, she said that all art school students need life drawing, and indeed all artists need to continue to do it throughout their career. Janet herself is still a regular attendee. The second was artist/printmaker Helen Peyton, who told me that leaving art school having the techniques nailed would be the key to future success, and part of that is life drawing, “once you can draw the human form you can draw anything” she said.
To my horror I think they might just be right! It looks like I’m going to have to face my fear and sit in a room and draw in front of people who can probably make a figurative sketch look alive on the page, while mine will definitely have more in common with a stick than anything human.
I didn’t realise it would be so hard to find a life drawing class. There are groups that like to meet to do life drawing, but there is no tutor support and they advise that those with previous experience would get the most from it. So it seems I will have to wait until I return to art school and the Life Drawing Society starts meeting again.
In the meantime I’m going along to the next monthly meeting of Harewood House’s sketching group. There is no tutor, but I will enjoy spending a couple of hours in the grounds and the less enjoyable element of getting over my drawing fear. I’m sure I will get to meet some friendly people who will have plenty of advice and gossip to share. Hopefully I’ll also be able to pop along to a Dr Sketchy anti-art drawing class at Beacons festival or a meeting of the Leeds branch.