Life and Life Drawing

I’m back. It’s as if I’ve been to another country, a strange one, and yet I didn’t go more than a mile from my house the whole time.  I’d been drawing so intensively, every day, for so long, and blogging every day since January, that to not do those two things left me floating, untethered. I had no idea what a profound change had come over my inner landscape.

Over the weekend we were delighted to have some musician friends from another city visiting, with whom I have played on and off stage for many, many years. I had decided to sell my lovely Celtic harp to the woman of this couple, a very accomplished player. She has always made exquisite music on it when she comes to visit, and was instrumental (pun!) in my acquisition of it originally. She had asked if I ever sold it, to talk to her first. So we sat in my living room for many hours, she on her new harp, I on Irish flute or my new Irish tenor banjo (goes pretty well with harp, surprisingly!), our husbands on guitars and mandolins and a funny, high-pitched little Greek instrument called a baglama (not baklava, not balaclava — though I tease my hubby by calling it that sometimes). It felt surreal to be spending time with my other muse, who has been much neglected of late. I think she will have to visit the muse comics series. We pulled out a lot of old tunes I had forgotten, and which I’ve now resolved to revive in my own repertoire.

We also walked a lot. The balmy weather of spring has arrived, and we were lucky to get some beautiful sunny days to roam the city. We took our guests to the Caribbean Cafe on Quadra Street, which has the best coffee in the whole world and luscious, dense, cinnamon rolls, and Cascadia Bakery on Government St., where the coffee is also pretty darn fine, with a delicious array of goodies as well. Our friends helped us get the last few boxes out of the Storage Locker of Doom and take them up the many stairs to my downtown studio (true friends indeed!). It was a lovely mini-vacation for me, to be free momentarily of my self-imposed deadlines and the ever-present demands of modern communication — I had finished the pencils to the graphic novel on Friday morning, and felt as if I truly deserved the breather.

But by Sunday, my hands were starting to twitch for a pencil instead of a banjo pick. I resisted, but every time I walked by my studio, I had to go in it for a minute and just breathe the scents of paper and pencils, paint and ink. So when an e-mail came asking me to facilitate this week’s life drawing session at Xchanges, my studio/gallery cooperative, in the evening after our friends left, I gladly agreed.

So last night I headed on up to the gallery a bit early, turned on the heat; set up the “donkeys” (the drawing benches), the spot lights, the model stand; put on the tea; and grabbed my drawing stuff and the timer. As the model took her place and everyone rattled their newsprint pads to a blank sheet, I felt myself settle into the familiar drawing-trance state. As we began the one-minute gesture poses, the usual struggle began between my left and right brain functions, but the right took over pretty quickly — lots of practice lately! By the time we got to the ten and twenty minute poses I was feeling really comfortable, and happy and relaxed to be drawing again. Here’s some of the results:

10 minute pose — Graphite pencil, Burnt Umber Coloursoft, White Prismacolour coloured pencils

10 minute pose — Graphite pencil, Burnt Umber Coloursoft, White Prismacolour coloured pencils. These kind of poses can be really hard, and rather alarming at first, but once I got started it came together. Sometimes it’s hard making myself start though! 

20 minute pose — Burnt Umber Coloursoft, White Prismacolour coloured pencils Sanguine oil Creatacolor stick

20 minute pose — Burnt Umber Coloursoft, White Prismacolour coloured pencils Sanguine oil Creatacolor stick (that’s a tattoo — I’m afraid I didn’t do it justice!)

20 minute pose — Indigo blue Derwent Coloursoft, white Prismacolor coloured pencils

20 minute pose — Indigo blue Derwent Coloursoft, white Prismacolor coloured pencils.

20 minute pose — Watersoluble graphite pencil and white marker

20 minute pose — Watersoluble graphite pencil and white marker. From my angle, this seemed like a pretty boring pose at first, but really no pose is boring once you get into drawing it. I especially liked drawing the turn of her foot with the way the lighting was on it.

12 responses to “Life and Life Drawing

  1. Karen ~ so happy you had a nice visit with good friends. So I learn you are musical as well…that does not surprise me!! Beautiful drawings.. glad you are back!

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  2. Hi Karen, this is you, the rounded soul where one talent feeds off the other talent. Your pencil sketches are really sympathetic to the model, thank you.
    Geoff.

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