Figure Drawing in 2020
Many things changed this year, a lot we took for granted finally made themselves feel essential to our way of life and emotional health. For artists, being kept away from communal studios, print shops, and schools/ateliers was a hard pill to swallow, but we made due with the hand we were dealt and flourished amid the chaos of today's world. In February I enrolled in an etching class at the Art Students League; it had been quite some time since I had been in a school environment and I was soon reminded just how much I missed it. I planned on taking a second class during the spring, one I had been wanting to take for many months and I was finally ready. I was going to revisit the figure and resume my training to better myself at depicting the human body. Then, as you may already have guessed it, COVID said hello and those plans were laid to rest...but were they?
During the early days of quarantine I pulled out this drawing I began in circa 2012 and decided that it was the right time to finish it. I had enough information on the paper to keep going and plenty of time to figure it out. As I continued I kept feeling upset about not being able to take a figure drawing class and have access to models.
One day as I was scrolling and researching through Instagram I came across a page that offered model references for artistic use. Croquis Cafe is a great resource for artists looking for a variety of models and poses to work from. After going through their database I found a pose I was interested in and began my first figure drawing in years.
Those days of isolation in the studio with just my pencils, cappuccinos, and music were ideal. I soon became obsessed with the new drawing and I found myself working on it day and night, and I'm not exaggerating. There were times when I would work on it until 1am, go to bed and wake up at 3 or 4 am and continue drawing until 8am. Take a nap and wake up to do it all over again. Living in confinement disturbed my sleeping cycle, not being exposed to daylight for many days did a number on me, not to mention the anxiety of the unknown surrounding the pandemic.
The beauty about this situation we all found ourselves in was that even though we were all under lock down without being able to see one another, technology made it easier for all of us to become closer. Soon I saw my Instagram feed flooded with figure drawing groups from round the world. Artists now had access to models everywhere, and though nothing can replace the experience of live drawing, this was the next best thing and I welcomed it fully. I joined a number of sessions and continued studying the figure on my own. One of my favorite groups is 2B Or Not 2B Collective, coming straight to you form London and with models of every size, shape, color, background. Also, they are a fun bunch, welcoming, and they always have super fun music playing in the background.
I took a couple of weeks off from drawing Dwayne, I was too busy zooming all over the world with figure drawing session. I had to finish this drawing though, and after over 43 hours of work I called it quits. From April to June I completed nine figure drawings, and one that still remains to be finished. Those drawings can be viewed on my website by clicking here. Due to censorship I am being extra careful as to where I can show them, for now they are only viewable on my website. Below are the "safe" drawings I can post here.
Male Nude Back, begun ca. 2012, finished 2020, graphite with white chalk highlights on paper, 17 x 12 1/2 inches
Dwayne, 2020, graphite on paper, 17 x 11 3/4 inches