Editor | Grace Burney
The human body holds the essence of LIFE. Its spirit can be deciphered with a soft touch, or a powerful mark, and its flesh, by a twist of the wrist. Without the exacting symmetry, so often found in man made objects, figure drawing allows for a basic human desire – freedom of expression.
Is it any wonder that artists have been attracted to its form for centuries? Whether in capturing the serenity in a child’s face, the agony in a brush with death, or the frailty in an aged hand, one thing is clear: artists explore similar methods – gesture, contour, values, and composition – yet, with their own eye.
Students enter class with varying levels of experience – and a response all their own. With the stage set (jazz playing through the speakers, and two spotlights illuminating the model) my voice carries. ”Let your hand dance on the page, be messy, angry, joyful, and gentle! Press down, lighten up, go from the tip to the side, back to the tip again.” Invariably, students let go, take risks, and get in touch with their own very human perceptions. Individual likes, dislikes, tentativeness, boldness, empathy, and pragmatism are evident, whether they use charcoal, graphite or marker. A wall of pinned-up drawings proves that there is no one way to draw the human figure. It is by far nature’s most imperfect, dynamic, tactile, and widely interpreted subject. Students are fascinated, sometimes frustrated, but never bored.