I was partially pleased with these drawings when I did them back in September. For the most part, the face came out really well - I always feel satisfied to capture the model's likeness - even though that's never really the point of life-drawing.
I'm also happy about the poses and the lighting of the body.
'90% observation, 10% drawing'
Life-drawing is usually about reconnecting with your basic skills, and making sure you haven't gone rusty. It's about the power of the observation. My main complaint with art courses that don't have life-drawing classes, is that if you can't adequately render your own species, then your powers of observation and your ability to record the world around you could be stunted somewhat. The best thing that I was ever taught, was that life-drawing is '90% observation, 10% drawing'.
Life-drawing classes always seem to take place at night, when the powers of concentration are at their lowest. It was the same when I was at college: You're tired, hungry, the light quality is not good.
As an adult, to get around this, I always draw with my wrong hand - in other words - my non-dominant hand, in order to keep myself awake. This usually results in a kind of spontaneity that I would never get by using my regular hand. It's like someone else has done the drawing, which is really interesting.
In these pictures, the thing I'm least happy about are the model's hands, which are usually one of my strong points. It's obvious that in this session, I was not able to use the charcoal - which is the bluntest of instruments - to clearly delineate the fingers. In my defence, some were very fast poses ( eg. two or three minutes ), so you didn't have the luxury of tinkering. With charcoal, it's very easy to attempt to make corrections, at the risk of turning the whole area into a smudged mess. So it encourages the artist to show some restraint.
It's amazing how elegant the strokes can appear when using a delicate and brittle medium such as charcoal:
As far as art-making goes, my personal philosophy is: Be as abstract and as out-there as you like, but try to also have the core skills on which to build.