Left: Page of 2-minute gesture drawings with a 5-minute gesture at the bottom left. (Page is cropped in scanning on every side but the bottom. I was working on an 11 x 14 inch sheet of Strathmore 300 Series Mixed Media Paper.)
Last Sunday night I went off to the first session of the Gesture Drawing Co-op at The Art Academy. Liz Carlson and Tim Jennen of MetroSketchers have organized this with the school, but you don't have to be a MetroSketcher to come, any artist over 18 is welcome.
It runs every Sunday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. Cost: $10. There are small collapsible easels available if you like to work from an easel. Bring the paper and sketching materials you like to use. The space is lovely and the lighting is good. The Art Academy is at 651 Snelling Avenue South, in St. Paul. (Just a little north of the Ford Parkway.)
Like all co-ops there's no instruction, each artist works at his or her own level. During break though you can always walk around and see what people have been doing to get ideas and inspiration.
Left: For the last 45 minutes we did 2 poses and one was 25 minutes. I started something on a smaller sheet and after 10 minutes of floundering started again with a larger sheet and a Neocolor II watersoluble crayon.
I had some Strathmore 300 Series Mixed Media Paper to sketch on. I don't like it for finished drawings but the 300 series is fine for studies in life drawing if I want to use wet media, and I knew I would by the end of the evening.
This paper is also a bit stiff when you use pencil on it, but I only had to deal with that for a few minutes. I switched to ink and then for the longest poses I used the Neocolor IIs.
(Remember, don't confuse this paper with my favorite Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Paper, which is great for everything.)
Right: My final 20-minute sketch of the evening. Again I used an 11 x 14 inch sheet of Strathmore 300 Series Mixed Media Paper and this time I used two colors of Neocolor II watersoluble crayon. I began with the red and then went in with the blue, made some washes by adding water, and then worked directly off the crayon as if it were a pan of watercolor by dragging the brush across it's surface. (This results in those spatters you see.) Sometimes I would touch the crayon to wet or dry paper to get darker values immediately.)
The poses the model struck in the last half hour were great, but if someone is going to stand (or sit) motionless for me for 20 minutes at a shot, I'm going to practice portraits.
Since I'm not able to stand at an easel and hold my arm up for very long right now I worked on a little tray table I brought along. It worked great.
This co-op is going to run every Sunday, so if you want the option to do some figure sketching in the evening on Sunday come out and support this effort. It's great to have options!
Drawing from a live model is the best practice you can have.