Life Drawing Lessons

Upper school Painting and Drawing and AP Art classes this year have had the exciting opportunity to experience drawing sessions with live models.

During the sessions, students form a circle around a model who poses in various positions for set durations, determined by visual arts instructors Kristin Street and Dominique Avila ‘11.

“Drawing is the foundation of art and a way to communicate ideas through visual interpretations,” reflects instructor Kristin Street. “When teaching drawing the goal is to help students see beyond ‘the figure’ and focus on the relationship of how the forms, the light and shadow work together to build the model before them.”

It involves an “intuitive response to both the paper, the subject and surroundings, light, shadow,” Kristin adds.

The teachers offer guidance as the sessions progress, which presents the artists with some truly unique and rewarding challenges.

“Being able to observe and study the human form, to understand anatomy through observation, helps students develop their ability to translate what they’re looking at into lines and shapes that build form on a page,” Dominique says.

The classroom is intense and focused. Quiet discussion is kept to a minimum. Out of respect for the process, and for the fact that each assigned drawing is only allotted a few minutes of time, the students are very intentional about their task. Before they know it, time is up. They are given another drawing task and the model will often adjust position. They begin again.

“My experience with these live model drawing sessions was therapeutic yet challenging,” says senior Julia K. “When you have a set time interval, to capture the pose, you must focus only on the shapes and gestures of the figure. Every line is important.”

Adds senior Ibi M., “By having the mix of such limited/extensive time you are able to really see the process of how your work develops.” She feels the experience has been eye-opening and offers a glimpse into the types of “classes we might all be taking in college.”

Some art students don’t have the opportunity to participate in this type of live model work until college, comments Dominique. “The first time I took a figure drawing class I was a college freshman in my freshman foundation course. For a high school freshman to have access to figure drawing at this point is an invaluable opportunity to start building their skill sets,” she says.