All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Heroic Life Drawing at DEAD Academy

Our model - the astounding aerial contortionist Grace Ramsey -
I have been attending as many life drawing sessions as possible. A couple interesting ones have come up, including Heroic Life Drawing at DEAD (Denver Entertainment Art and Design) Academy. The model is an acrobat, or more accurately an "Aerial Contortionist"

Gesture, sketch, sketch....

It was phenomenal! We were able to draw the human body in poses that were extremely unusual and exciting. Now I know what the human body would look like in flight! And it was fascinating to see the muscles stretch and bend, it gave me a much better understanding of just what the body is capable of, what the limits are, and what they look like.

The situation presented unusual problems - not only for the model (duh!) but for the artists as well.
First and foremost - finishing the pose, looking at the drawing and thinking "what the heck is that?"
Because the poses were short out of necessity, there were a lot of decisions to make, and very quickly.
Most  of the decisions involved what to leave out. By focusing on one element, you are eliminating many others.

By focuing on just the gesture, I found that it was hard in some cases to tell what was going on - or that it was indistinguishable from a regular life drawing session.

So the issue very quickly became one of how to exploit the opportunity, and get it to read as a body suspended, in the small amount of time available.

Each pose presented its own set of unusual circumstances. Sometimes, the body, or a leg, arm, hand, or foot, was in a position that, when drawn, looked physically impossible. How do you draw what you see, and get it to read believably?

I remembered what Jeff Watts said about painting:
"It's part what you see;
Part what you know;
And part what you wished you saw."
That gave me all I needed to begin to make sense of the poses in the short amount of time available.
Still, I was only able to capture a small amount of the information.

Sketch, re-sketch...
Plus, to see the figure defying gravity is just... well, it's just plain cool.
Gesture, sketch, re-sketch...
I was torn between the desire to draw, the urge to take photos, and the tendency to just freak out at how awesome it all was.
My personal favorite were the poses with the drapery (think Cirque du Soleil.) Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the poses. I was too busy drawing. The good news is: I was busy drawing. ;)
Detail of re-sketch
The session went by quickly, and I came away with pages and pages and pages of drawings. Still, it was over too soon for me - but not for the model! She was incredible, and we all expressed our gratitude to be a part of an experience that was so unique and spectacular.

In the end, all I could think was:

The sketches, the reference photos, and the experience has inspired me to keep drawing and elaborating on the subject.

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