Small figure studies

I haven't written in a while about my return back to the exploration of the figure, but it has been going relatively well. The weekly class I've taken with Robert Liberace has been wonderful, but I must say that the 1.5 + hour commute (each way) has been a little bit of a challenge, and unfortunately I had to miss a class or two in the semester because my car broke down. (That's one of the drawbacks of taking an out of town class--you can't exactly catch a ride if your transportation source goes south!) So while I've felt a little bit disjointed with my schedule glitch, what I've also discovered is that my time in class flies by very quickly, and that my execution with drawing the figure from life is still relatively slow.

figure study ink gesture

Rob did some amazing demonstrations during the course of each class, and I often felt torn about whether I should watch the demos for the duration or work on my own drawings. I tried to acheive a balance of the two as best I could, but since my time with Rob was rather limited (and I can hang out with myself most any time), watching Rob's demos often won out. As a result I've ended up with rather a lot of "beginnings," and nothing from this class really has the feeling of a finished work.

watercolor portrait study

But that is the nature of  learning, I think. And whenever  I teach my own workshops I always try to emphasize to students that in a learning environment, the goal of finishing or making a "framable product" should be subordinate to learning and experiementation.

I took a decent amount of figure drawing in college, so I don't consider myself to be a novice. But I'll say without equivocation that this class was definitely experimental for me. In fact, since it's been such a long time since I've done much if any life drawing, in hindsight I might have been slightly cavalier by signing up for this class. Rob has a lot of devoted followers and it became clear to me early on that many of his students (talented in their own right and some also teachers themselves) were quite familiar both with Rob's teachings and with life drawing in general.

I probably would have done well to have first gained a level of comfort by taking an entire semester of a more basic class in just one or two drawing mediums-- charcoal and chalk, for instance-- to really develop my drawing.  The class was called something like "exploring the figure," which is a hint that it was the next stage beyond just fundamentals. And while all along the way we learned about correct proportion and developing mass and form, there was a little more emphasis in this class on exploring different mediums from drawing to painting, which added a whole new level of learning to an already complicated subject.

figurative painting portrait study watercolor

But neither my car breakdowns nor my cavalier course selection was enough to detract from the class as a whole, thanks wholly to the instructor. I found Rob to be an incredibly energetic, enthusiastic, and helpful instructor. Most of all I found him to be so very inspirational. Beyond his masterful technical acuity, he displays an incredibly beautiful sensitivity and true artistry in his work. So in many ways,  I am glad to have taken this particular class; because not only did it enable me to see the range he is able to acheive in his own work, but I also could see hints and clues about what is possible for myself.

grisaille portrait study Jennifer Young

*Note, scattered throughout this post are a few of my studies from the class. All are pretty small--ranging from 4x6" to 8x10". The small gestural studies (short poses from 3 to 7 minutes) were done in sepia ink. The two subsequent pieces were watercolor, and the final piece was a grisaille on linen, done on the last day of class.