Dpaint's Drawing from Life Survival Guide
It seems like there are many artists on CA who want to start drawing from life to help improve their skills. Having drawn from life for quite a few years now I thought I would create this simple guide to help you survive the cruel world out there.These guidelines have helped me draw for many years hopefully they will help you too.
Before we start the list; here is a little tip you might not know about if you are starting out. Everyone is familiar with pens, pencils, erasers and sharpeners but keep a razor blade handy also. This little tool will allow you to go back and slice out any offending pages that the eraser just can’t get clean enough. Trust me there will come a time you will want it.
1 Be Discreet
Unless you are an A type extrovert that craves an audience look for places you can blend in and people might not notice you stealing their souls by making an image of them. I always try to find a place to draw from where people cannot sneak up on me from behind. When you first start out there is nothing worse than having a bunch of people commenting on your work and your ability while standing right behind you and acting like you can’t hear them.
2 Some places to draw
Public squares, parks, coffee shops, pubs, The bus station, the airport, the train station, just about any mass transit system. You can also stay home and draw using a wardrobe mirror or set up casts or a still life. Family and friends are usually good for poses especially on holidays or special occasions
3 Sketchbooks are not Aphrodisiacs
While there are men and women attracted to artistic types. Beware. We are artists for a reason and usually that reason is a lack of badassness in the Mixed Martial Arts sense of the word. Nothing will get you in more trouble than drawing the wrong person’s significant other as a naked forest elf. While artists are naturally attracted to beauty, drawing someone in public when their jealous spouse is near could get you a black eye. Be aware, and size up any potential threats before you start to draw that cute person you see across from you in a sexy come hither pose from your imagination.
4 Flattery is smarter than Caricature.
Resist the urge to make that person who looks like a character from the Narnia movies, a character from the Narnia movies. This could put you into the same situation as #2 you also don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings if they happen to see you’ve drawn them as Cthulu.
5 Draw in Groups.
If you can find a group of likeminded artists, it is allot more fun to draw in a crowd. This isolates you and people are more reluctant to disturb a group allowing you to focus and actually get some drawing done. Also in groups you can just draw the people you are with since you will all be holding the pose for roughly the same amount of time.
6 Don’t be a Statistic
If people aren’t your thing and you feel like drawing landscapes make sure you don’t sit on the side of the road. Doing so will possibly get you killed by someone who is driving and texting and didn’t notice you there. Seriously it could happen. If you must draw on the road at least put your car between you and any potential traffic and sit far enough ahead of it, that if an idiot does hit it they don’t push it on top of you.
7 Be Prepared
There is nothing worse than getting to your favorite drawing spot and realizing you left your sketchbook at home two hours away. Organize a setup that will allow you to carry everything you need in some sort of satchel or backpack all at once. Have extra pens pencils erasers and sketchpads. Before you leave check it to make sure you have everything you need. When you get home replenish your supplies so the next time you go out everything will be there for you to create your masterpiece.
8 Have Fun
Drawing is hard. Drawing in public from life is even harder. That being said, leave your bad attitude at home. If drawing is such a chore then find something else to do. People that are interested in art don’t need their head bitten off because you are having a bad day. Fall in love with the process and realize nobody draws as well as they want to. Set aside the time for drawing and make an effort to improve one thing about your work every time you practice.
9 Create a Legacy
Every time you start a sketchbook put the date in the front of it. This does two things it lets you look back a few years from now and see how you’ve improved and it will let you know if you’ve been slacking because there is nothing new in it for six months. It is good to have a record of your work.
10 Take the Money
Value what you do, if you draw outside long enough, eventually someone will ask you what you charge for your work. Have an answer! You never know if that person could potentially launch your career and how they dress is not a good indicator of how much they are worth. Decide before you go out what you would say to someone if they either ask to buy what you are doing or they want to commission you to do something for them. I don’t know is not an answer.
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Quoted for emphasis - this is golden. Great insights my friend! Ah, the stories that could be told...Steamboat comes to mind...as does OK City...those were the days!
Originally Posted by dpaint
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to JeffX99 For This Useful Post:
This is great. I recently saw your finished paintings and I'm looking forward to learning more from you.
Thank you for this post! It was great.
Another one I'd suggest: If you're drawing somebody who is looking back with ill-intent, pretend you're drawing somebody else. Also known as the "ninja" and great way to avoid a #3.
Agreed wholeheartedly on everything on the list though.
I use that a lot. And if someone is really intently staring at me, I just stare down at my sketchbook and doodle something from imagination so it looks like I've been doing that the whole time. I don't want to get punched .
Originally Posted by Alex Chow
LOL. I do that too.
Originally Posted by cdejong
Since one of the risks of drawing in public is being seen as some sort of perv, it makes sense to have a few drawings with you that show what you can do, rather than a blank book - and that the sketchbook you use for sketching strangers in public should not have pages in it that look like the kama sutra!
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I like the suggestions everyone. Especially the ninja look and having some drawings already in your book. Thanks.
I've found it effective to actually draw two people at the same time. When one looks up, start drawing the other one.
Originally Posted by Alex Chow
Regarding #10- it's implied by the title, but to add on to this don't give your stuff away. A friend of mine who is a very talented landscape painter used to say "Oh, this is terrible, you can just have it". Later, she found out through the grapevine that the person she gave the painting to for free would have paid $200 for it.
I once got laughed at for trying to draw from life.
Great tips dpaint
Sunglasses and always know your exits if someone decides to hunt you down
Originally Posted by cdejong
Hey, great post! I too struggled with drawing from life in public and I think tha guide would be great for all the noobs to take advice from..
If you really tend to think that other people will think that your life drawings will totally suck, than you can always doodle a quick cartoonish loomis styled face or something from immagination.. showing that "hey, i can actually draw something," if it helps you to feel more confident in drawing other people from life in there.. but yeah lol, if that immagination cartoon face would look like a caricature from a person in that bus, it wouldn't be that good idea..
One thing i also like to do (mostly when i'm in the car) and riding around, is to look outside and draw thins, light poles, some houses etc.. i mostly try to look at them, memories them and draw them quickly.. another fun activity, good way to take notes about buildings and environment.
It's a lot also in your head.. If you analyze a little bit, then you realize that you have absoloutley no reason to panic, what other superficial people, that you will see only once in a life time in that bus would think. If you use the public transport on daily basis, and do a litle calculation, then you realize that there is a great ammount of time for drawing, and it would be stupied to not use it, because some people are going to give you a dirty look or something..
I draw people outside 5 - 6 times a week, 1 - 1,5 hours at a time. They are sitting figures mostly drawn from behind since I don't like to get caught. I did some math and after three years I've done more than 30 000 of these quick, somewhat similar poses. The thing is, I have only 1,5 hours of "real" life drawing a week and the lighting is so bad I can't see much of the surface forms. I'm also pretty sure the teacher can't draw because her advice is so bad. Kind of gave up with those classes. I feel like I don't have other options than going out every day and do the samey clothed poses over and over. Everyone always emphasizes how important life drawing is and it feels like I'm not going to obtain the necessary understanding to draw the figure well.
Is it enough if I just do it from books and photos? Any really skilled people who did it like that? I need some reassuring.
From what I've been told, Marko Djurdjević was wholly self taught and never realized that other artists used photos or references until much later. He drew from intense study of everyday objects, memory, and a 2 year stint holed up with Burne Hogarth's anatomy book.
Originally Posted by Taneli
Marko's Wikipedia entry: LINK
HOWEVER, if you have the opportunities at all for figure life drawing, by all means take it. I drew almost entirely from photos until I moved out to L.A., and there is a world of difference in terms of progress and understanding between "live" drawing versus a flattened image.
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