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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Life Drawing

Last night I went to my first ever life drawing class, it was also my first time drawing in a long time. These are my offerings. I know that they are not brilliant; disproportionate, tight and small where I would like them to be large and expressive. We had to walk around and look at everyone's drawings to see what we could steal, I came back to my seat with only the sense that I was not ready to steal yet. I don't see a style in my drawings, and if there is one it is not something I recognise as being my own. In the two minute drawings there was no time to lose faith and despair. Thirty minutes, on the other hand, felt like a long time to be scrutinizing bodies and lines. I frequently abandoned drawings and began again, reducing time frames to fit my hesitation. But it was two hours of familiar bliss and when I got home all I wanted to do was draw and plan my next life drawing class.
Life Drawing is the art of the sketch book study, but I was reminded of an exhibition of Gustav Klimt's women I had seen at sixteen.

The exhibition in Madrid was of nude and erotic drawings which Klimt had wanted destroyed when he died. A secret history of private life drawings were revealed for the first time. They reveal the workings of passion rather than a merely technical interest in forms.

I remember my Spanish uncle rushing through the exhibition embarrassed. He waited for me in the entrance while I looked and dismissed it all as disgusting with a gesture of his hands. Some of the drawings move towards gratuity as they capture women masturbating. However we have to remember their status as private art between artist and model.

I thought they were beautiful and gave every simple line drawing a measure of my attention and reverence. I bought the book, even though they only had it in Spanish, and made a pledge to learn to read it. The pages still have this satisfying smell of cartridge paper and art studios.

This is definitely not to say that my interest in life drawing is erotic, far from it. What I adore about Klimt's Mujeres is their nature as secret; turn of the century taboo has reduced something so natural to an underground culture of eroticism.


  1. Good on you for taking the risk- they look great to me for a first go..
    I wonder why Klimt wanted his drawings destroyed? I doubt he was ashamed of them. Were they just too personal? Had he promised the models they would never be shown, thereby gaining access to their most intimate moments?

  2. "Life Drawing is the art of the sketch book study"

    Brilliant Post for Artist Legend...!

  3. I love Egon Schiele's figure drawings as well - very personal, erotic, you may see one or two people masturbating, and they are beautiful.

  4. I was also going to mention Schiele, as Bea did. I love the Expressionists! Funny, though the subject matter can be blatantly erotic, its the lines themselves that convey the most sensuality. I just love those top two sketches by Klimt- you can almost feel how tenderly he held the pencil while he drew and re-traced those beautiful curving lines. And not a bad collection of drawings yourself, my dear! Keep at it!

  5. For a first attempt yours are very very good! Isn't it wonderful to go to one of these classes after not drawing for some time. The sheer childlike joy of drawing once again, the bliss you speak of. After 20 years of never having time to pick up a pencil I did a short course four years ago and it awakened something in me I thought had died a long time ago.

  6. Wow. These are absolutely beautiful. I admire you.

  7. Hey, I happened upon your blog while researching Klimt for my drawing class. Is there any way you could tell me the dimensions of the first drawing all the way at the top? Also, do you know what kind of paper that is and what media he used? Is it pencil or ink? I'm supposed to replicate it but I can't find any information on it anywhere online. Thanks