Nude Sketching: A Beginner’s Account
My first attempt at nude sketching.
“Sketching Class Section 2E, please proceed to Room 303,” read my mentor’s note to her art students. I was late for class so I hurriedly climbed two flights of stairs to catch a seat in the gallery room jam packed with wannabe artists. My mentor motioned me to the vacant seat in the front row down the gallery, so I obliged. When I reached my seat, I sat still for a while to catch my breath and prepare my drawing materials. I hardly noticed the glaring lights and the figure at the center of the gallery which appeared so negligible given the huge size of the room. I assumed the figure was the subject of the day’s sketching lesson. As I raised my head to take a look at it, my jaw dropped.
Lo and behold! A live nude model was standing in all her naked glory. I thought it was a big leap from our previous “still life” session. I was quite tense so my charcoal pencils kept on dropping to the floor. My heart was thumping while trying to capture a proportional perspective of her nude figure. Since the seats were arranged in a circle, I got the rear view of her figure. Generally speaking, I think it is easier to draw the rear view than the frontal view. The rear view has lesser details even if the quality of tone in the back muscles needs some extra work. Besides, I personally think the rear view leaves much to the aesthetic imagination, and is therefore, more interesting.
The nude model did pretty well in her stationary position, only taking a break for 10 minutes to stretch and walk around in her panties. Ah, the boys loved it while the girls were apathetic (or tried to be). The session lasted for almost an hour. At the end of the session, we gave the model a round of applause before she headed straight to the dressing room.
The next day, we had a male nude model for our subject but I think I did better in the female form. There’s a great difference between drawing male and female nudes. In the female body, you draw a series of curves because the muscles are usually hidden by 80% fat. In the male body, there is a change of technique because the muscles are more defined.
I did not pursue nude sketching after these few sessions. I think it’s one of the most difficult types of sketching to attempt. You can get away with drawing landscapes like trees, mountains and rivers because nobody knows how it looks in particular. But if you do a human figure incorrectly, everyone knows if there’s something wrong with it, even those who know nothing about art. It’s a similar case with portrait sketching which I also tried for some time using charcoal. I also discovered pastel painting which is my favorite medium because it is not so messy and wet as in water color or oil.
I am glad to have tried my hand at nude sketching. I know I still have a lot to improve on. The human body is an awesome art form that reflects our Creator’s sublime ingenuity. Life drawing, particularly the nude form, is an artist’s fitting gesture of appreciation and gratitude for this wonderful creation.
Note: This is my share of the sketching series initiated by my forum buddies Brewed Coffee, AJ Garcia, Crisdiwata, Bobie and Nz2rdfox. More than the quality of these sketches is the bond of friendship that makes them special. Those who want to join in are most welcome.
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