Friday, March 1, 2013

Life Drawing Resurgence in Brisbane

This year I have returned to life drawing with a vengeance and it seems I am not the only one. There appear to be groups of artists all over Brisbane who are also returning to the source, as it were, of basic drawing skills and anatomy.

I have been asking myself why this is happening right now. In my own case it is an enduring love of the old masters and a wish to emulate those red chalk drawings of musculature, curves and angles and a wish to improve my observation skills while finding some reality as strong source material.

Fitting one's life into computer-screen-sized segments takes its toll and for an artist it is very confining.  Your whole life and relationships must be filed and fitted into these little black rectangles. They are black holes more like...

For other artists I can only surmise that their motivation is similar to mine. I have talked to so many at these different groups and the general consensus is that people are over conceptual, video, and abstract art are wanting return to some basic skills.

As artists we use every resource available to us and we need to. Ultimately there must be a devotion to truth in one's work and we need to cultivate a kind of emotional honesty even if the work is just for ourselves alone. (And it usually isn't) There is a truth in a drawing of the human body and artists through history have returned again and again to the human form. I guess the "human condition" generally is our ultimate subject matter.

The acquisition of skills is of course another reason we keep going back to drawing the figure. Skill was such a dirty work in curatorial and art college circles for such a long time but now hopefully the pendulum is swinging back a little.

Another thing is that life drawing is addictive. Getting into that semi-meditative right-brain state is a truly great feeling. The world exists in that eye-brain-hand connection and for that moment that is all there is. Working from photographs as source material does not provide this connection, not to mention the flattening and distortion that photos engender.

Having said all that I intended this blog to be a bit of a run down about what is currently available in Brisbane.

Firstly a few random drawings.

Almost all sessions start with quick one minute poses to warm up.

Another sheet of random one minute poses.

Then five or ten minute poses.

Sometimes longer poses generally up to about 20 minutes.

Sessions currently available in Brisbane that I have personally checked out. 

All are untutored -   (There are also plenty of groups around with a teacher but I have no personal experience of them.)

Monday -    6.30-  9.30 pm at the Brisbane Institute of Art. Windsor . This untutored session run by Alan is very well organised, runs on time, even breaks are timed. Well set up, friendly group full of old hands. No music (which can be a good thing as personal tastes vary) Bring your iPod.  $15

Tuesday  - There are several groups in private homes that I know of so if you know me I can give you details.

Wednesday   7-9 pm at the Art Factory, South Brisbane. This is a very large group run efficiently by Dr Manny from the Art Shed. There are three separate large classrooms (Brisbane State High School Art Dept.)  with three different models who rotate rooms so you get to draw all three over the session. Untutored. Music is generally a pretty mellow mix of Greek and World music. Tea, coffee and a biscuit provided during the break. $10

Thursday     6.30 - 9.30 pm at Sculptor's Queensland Shed in the grounds of the Old Museum on Gregory Tce. This is my favourite. Very friendly group and everyone takes wine or snacks to share. Run by Val. Punctual and organised. As this is a sculpture shed this is probably the one where you could make most mess. All the sessions are pretty much drawing so therefore not terribly messy but at this one you definitely could use a bit of clay or paint without any problem. The lighting in the studio is quite dramatic and as a painter I love the strong cast shadows. Music is ABC Classic fm radio which I love.  $15,  $12 if you join the society.

Friday    10.30 am - 1.30 pm. Royal Queensland Art Society's new premises on Petrie Tce.  This one is one long pose for the entire session. One week nude model, next week clothed for portrait/costume study.
Run by Glen and Peter. Friendly group. Music is CD's people put on so it can vary.  $15,  $12 for members.

Saturday     10.30 -4 pm  Atelier studio in Salisbury. Very professional outfit. There is tutoring at this one but you can just do your own thing if you wish. One long pose for the whole session. In fact the same pose is held for five weeks so you can do a detailed study. No other group offers this possibility. Large range of people and skills at this one, from beginners to very experienced and some old hands too. $6 per hour untutored.

I must just finally mention the holy grail of life drawing in at the BIA on Wednesday mornings. David Paulson, who enjoys something of a cult following, is teaching again at this one. Many of us have benefited from watching his amazing facility with the pencil when he demonstrates. Three generations of my own family have in fact done so, - my mother artist Joan Bauer (now dec.) myself and my daughter bridal couturier Sarah Alice Andrews.
But you now have to enrol for the term for this tutored one.


  1. Thanks for this post! It has put me onto another session I can attend. Loved the drawiings of the Toowong cemetary. I love drawing there too. There is noone looking over your shoulder all the time - well maybe right?!?
    Maybe meet you at the Old Museum...

  2. Those who are living in Brisbane can easily find the best quality painters.

    Allan Zadeh