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Old 06-06-2018, 08:38 PM
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macrobertson macrobertson is offline
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Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

The Figure Forum is all about the Figure, and particularly the Figure in Art, in any form and medium, and although it’s not restricted to life drawing many of us who do post works here are regular (or irregular) life drawers.


I think that a large portion of society would probably raise their eyebrows at the thought of little groups of people standing or sitting around a nude person to draw pictures of them... but that is what many of us do here. Sometimes it can be hard to find a life drawing group in your community, and sometimes it can be hard to keep them going.


But they all have their own individual character, so tell us here about your life drawing groups, or the places, schools etc where you do, or have done life drawing.


I go to two life drawing groups on a regular basis (weekly) one, a part of the Blue Mountains Creative Arts Centre has been running for about 40 years I think, it’s held on a Friday morning and runs for three hours, usually has about 10 in attendance we have had up to 17 which makes it a bit too crowded! Attendance price is $15 plus annual membership of the BMCAC which is $50, we usually have a routine of poses like 5 x 1, 5 x 2, 2 x 5, 3 x 10 minutes, a break 3 x 30minutes with a break.




The other group which I now coordinate is weekly on Thursday evenings (during school terms) goes for 2 ½ hours and we have a similar price structure and format as the other group but slightly shorter poses at the end. It has had a number of different coordinators over the years, in various locations but eventually it became part of the Hawkesbury Community Arts Workshop, which has it’s 40th anniversary this year.The HCAW started as a community outreach of the Hawksbury Agricultural College in Richmond, which more recently became the University of Western Sydney.The building is the old Wool-classing Store.

This group has struggled over recent years to maintain numbers and we actually cancelled it for a couple of years until I recently resurrected it. We need 6 to attend to cover the cost of the model… and don’t always achieve that… but we live in hope






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Old 06-07-2018, 07:14 AM
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Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

Looks great Mac, I love the electric heater, thought you got sun over there Thankyou for putting so much effort into this group over the last few weeks, it will make a big difference to input
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Old 06-07-2018, 07:44 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

Great pictures, Mac- I have two from the internet of our space.

I have been going to a variety of life drawing groups for more than 30 years. I even organised an informal group at night in my classroom of my small school many years ago.
When I moved to this small town on the coast 15 years ago, I was concerned that I would not be able to find a group as we are so isolated. (can you tell I am obsessed?)
I needn't have worried there are many artists in the area. Then I saw in the local newsletter that a group was starting up- and I am still going all this time later. I am one of the only 2 founding members still attending.

When we began, we met once a week in the evening, but for the last few years we have met every 2 weeks on a Sunday afternoon for 2 hours.
We meet in the local hall of the small town near my town. The hall is more than a hundred years old. It is a beautiful timber building with amazing wooden floorboards. There is no membership fee- just $15 per session to pay for the model and hall hire fee. Drop in and draw.
The first hour is 4x 3mins, then 3x 15mins. A break for a cup of tea. Then 2x 25mins or one long pose.
We have simple equipment- because we have to pack it all up into a cupboard. A large board that sits on containers for the model platform. A wonderful mat black cloth for a backdrop- really helps to define the model. A simple light on an adjustable metal stand. Heaters and cushions and fabric for the model's comfort.
We need 6 people to pay the model and have a bit to cover the shortfall. The drawers come and go, and we have about 5 regulars.
Next time you are down our way- call in and draw with us!
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Old 06-08-2018, 08:47 PM
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Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

David, Australia is part of the planet, and we actually get seasons here too we don't get snow in winter here, but we do get frosts and minus temperatures and we like to keep the models warm in winter Actually our building is what used to be a large woolclassing building, built in the late 1800's ) with ceiling probably 6mtrs high, impossible to cool in Summer... or warm in winter, so we surround the model with heaters (not supposed to have in the University buildings here, please don't tell )

Bethany... great venue, lovely building, if I ever get down their again I'll try and make it, thanks for showing and telling us about it

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Old 06-09-2018, 08:30 AM
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Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

The Stamford Figure Drawing Group


The Stamford drawing group meets every Thursday and has done for nearly forty years. It is run by Mike, a retired humanities teacher who has always been a keen amateur artist. He is also an official with the Welland Valley Arts group which is based in the same building.

Stamford itself is a very picturesque town. The local land owner (Cecil of Burghley) prevented the railway from passing through the town in the early nineteenth century as he had interest in what was then, rather surprisingly, an inland port on the Welland. The eventual result was the commercial demise of the town but it did mean that it retained much of its Georgian character. There are some magnificent buildings in the town and it is frequently used as a location for period dramas. The Arts Centre is one such building. It houses studios, rehearsal rooms, a ballroom/concert hall, a cafe and a bar and it is a very bustling and active place.

The figure group’s studio is at the top of the building. You climb up several antique flights of steps usually to the accompaniment of the choir group warming up in a lower studio or noises off from one of the theatre groups rehearsing across the way. The group’s room is not big and has a very utilitarian interior with lino flooring, stacks of institutional chairs and a sink and table with a couple of kettles. Along with the easels and other art equipment there are a set of shelves on which clay heads executed at varying levels of competence indicate that the space is shared by the sculpture group among others.

The room can accommodate 15 people quite comfortably. Usually this is adequate but there are times when it is a little crowded. There is then some jockeying for position though I have never witnessed actual fisticuffs. We meet on Thursday evenings and work for two one hour periods taking a tea break for thirty minutes in between. No membership exists and the charge, between three and five pounds, just covers the model’s fee.

Mike himself is a grey bearded and slightly dishevelled figure who is a regular at all sorts of events at the Centre. An articulate and sociable extrovert he will expound on everything from Medieval boats in Scandinavia to the current state of the swift population. I would advise against steering conversations towards the political. If this happens his easy and loquacious style accelerates towards the frenetic and his normally amiable disposition veers towards the confrontational.

Mike is also a little obsessive about the way the equipment is stored. I once put all the drawing donkeys away, neatly stacked as I thought, only to have Mike come in, ‘tut tut’ audibly and proceed to demolish my handiwork and rearrange the lot. He has the same fastidious approach to all the equipment. Everything has its own ritual position. Rafael Nadal would feel at home. Even in the middle of a session Mike can launch into an impassioned and vituperative attack on other groups for leaving some items untidy.

Mike may be a little hard of hearing. If you want to engage his attention you must project your voice like an old-time Shakespearian. His mobile phone has a rather persistent and irritating fanfare which interrupts the drawing sessions. He seems to be oblivious to it. The half time mark is heralded by Mike crashing the kettles and teacups alarmingly. Miraculously they seem to survive their brutal handling from week to week.

Mike’s posing of the model can be somewhat unadventurous. It seems driven by concern for the model’s comfort rather than exploring the possibilities of the figure or challenging the draughtsmanship of the group. He shuns short poses and becomes short with those who offer suggestions.

In spite of all this it is Mike’s strong personality which holds the group together and keeps it going year in year out. He is dedicated to providing the facility. He organises exhibitions of the group’s work at the Centre and trips to London and elsewhere to view major art exhibitions. He is an all round good egg and we are all duly grateful. He himself has produced some fine drawings over the years and these frequently illustrate posters for the Centre’s activities.

The sessions are very informal. No tuition is given unless newcomers specifically request it in which case Mike or another mentor will lend a guiding hand and offer advice. We chat before and during the sessions and the atmosphere is easy and social. In general the working time is pretty well silent though this is not a strict rule. There are occasional moments of relief. A loud sneeze or dropped item will trigger a brief humorous exchange to settle us down again. So too will a melodramatic and murderous yell from the theatricals across the way. If the model drops off to sleep we may rouse them with gentle banter or just leave them to it.

The models themselves are very good overall. There is only very rarely a no show. There are one or two fidgety ones. It is possible to adjust to them and modify your approach accordingly. We have people like Cathy who is a local teacher and actor with the Centre’s Shoestring company. Occasionally someone will turn up to draw and Cathy says ‘The last time I saw him was at the parents’ evening. Vicky is a yoga practitioner. Tall and elegant she can hold poses for an hour at a time absolutely motionless. her daughter Lydia, though young and ebullient has the same ability. Ruth is a matronly Polish lady who is also very good but on one occasion she took up a standing pose and nearly passed out. Fortunately she was caught just in time. Clive sports a magnificent physique and could be the original for Bradbury’s ‘Illustrated Man’. Laura works in the Centre’s cafe. She sports Punk attitude in her dyed hair and her clothes. She is a great model with a beautiful face and is a lovely lady.

From time to time you get people who come in late and, rather than settling themselves in discretely as a civilised human being would, insist on making a dramatic entry and disrupting the entire group. It has been perpetrated repeatedly in the past by several particular individuals. A hippie maiden of some fifty odd summers with flowing hair who would sweep in with the bearing of the lady of the manor. An inebriated local ‘character’ who carried his own atmosphere of tobacco and possibly other smokeable euphoriants and a Glaswegian lady who seemed to mistake the evening for a psychoanalytic session. You may have gathered that this behaviour is a pet hate of mine.

Generally however the evenings are pleasant and productive. I look forward to them.

There is an eclectic social mix among the regulars. Judy winters in The Gambia and the oils which she exhibits frequently feature scenes and people from that country. Colin and Judy are a retired postman and post lady. They are still keen runners, once regularly competing in marathons. Judy is a fanatical steam train enthusiast. Terry is a very keen oil painter. He is an ex rock guitarist with a portly figure, a ruddy complexion, a large earring and is completely bald. His distinctive figure is to be seen virtually every day in the streets of the town with his easel. He will engage passers-by in cheerful chat while he paints He is one of the few painters who can capture the atmosphere of the place in my opinion. He exhibits his local scenes at the Centre.

Tim is a practising art teacher at a local sixth form college. He produces robust, sculptural charcoal figures. He is also a gliding enthusiast who takes part in long distance races. David is our oldest regular. Now eighty six he perseveres with his pencil studies. He is not always there as he takes himself off to Scotland to fish for salmon in the Tweed or the Tay or else assists as a beater in the local pheasant shoots. You will not be surprised to hear that he has a lean and weatherbeaten appearance. I refrain from engaging him in disputes about bloodsports partly because he is such an amiable chap and partly because he is now very deaf. Clive is a baker in the neighbouring village of Market Deeping on the edge of the fens. He loves all things arty. He is a regular performer with the local outdoor theatre company at Tolethorpe. He is a tall, powerfully built fellow covered in tattoos. We know this as he often poses for us and he is an excellent model. A gentler and more courteous man would be difficult to find.

Other ladies are Rita who is Polish but lives here and makes a wide range of jewellery which she sells online. Originally a photographer she also paints draws and has exhibited widely. Caroline produces very precise conté drawings. She has recently had an unusual whole arm tattoo which looks like a sleeve and depicts wildlife and leaves in beautifully subtle colours. Apparently it masks some teenage indiscretions in the same genre. Michelle is a musician who works with psychiatric patients. She is a portraitist and illustrator with wide artistic interests. She cycles everywhere. Her daughter is twenty years old and an art student in London. Michelle looks about five years older than her.

Two members also stand in for Mike as organisers. Jonty is a local sculptor specialising in finely modelled equestrian statues. He has his own sculpture class at the centre but for me his best work is to be seen in his exquisite charcoal portraits. Paul has classes in Wisbech. He looks the part. A big, heavily bearded man with an earring and a quiet and authoritative way of speaking he is an excellent portrait artist.

We have A level art students and college students too. They come along to swell their portfolios of work. They are generally super kids who enliven the evenings and inject the liveliness of youth without which these sort of groups are doomed.

If you are ever in the area drop in. You will be very welcome.

https://www.stamfordartscentre.com
http://www.wellandvalleyartsociety.co.uk
http://www.leicestersketchclub.co.uk/judy-merriman.html
https://www.ritarodnerphotography.com/info/
http://www.jontymeyer.com
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Old 06-09-2018, 09:11 PM
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Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

Harry that's a wonderful verbal image of another aspect of the life drawing group, one that makes up the character and personality of each... I can imagine being there at Stamford!

Going up the stairs make me think of the several flights of stairs up to the Julian Ashton life group down at the Rocks in Sydney. The autocratic control... the Glenbrook group, no talking laughing or music, and comments about turning phones off one happens to ring... my group where we usually have the local easy listening radio station on... and of course all the characters drawers and models that we come across

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Old 06-10-2018, 11:09 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

Excellent report Harry I enjoyed reading it I now have the flavour of your art group in my mind. You paint as well with words as you do in your art.
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Old 06-26-2018, 10:05 PM
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Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

I have attempted to find a group to meet with regularly. There have been a number of very interesting successes and failures along the way.

I started with a local college art class taught by Fred Dalkey. But it was limited as to the number of tin=mes that you could take the class.

The local art store had a Wednesday night group before Utrecht was bought out . It was a good group, with a couple of interesting models. But the floor space was costly, and the store gave up the space.

One of the artists attempted to continue it at a small office space, and turned the finding of models over to one of the models from the previous group. This became an issue because this model was mostly invested in "alternative" adult industries in the San Francisco Bay area. There were good sessions, but often the models were expecting a porn photography shoot. Some models arrived expecting a S&M movie to be made. Enough weird model issues caused that the group parted ways.

We did find a very private group for a few years. It was in a private residence, and the owners were art collectors. Neither one were artists, but the wife did model about half the time. She also found other models, and once in a while there were two groups working. I think they wanted to be patrons, and muses of the arts, or perhaps it was all a sex fantasy for them. Nothing weird occurred during the sessions, and they were productive art sessions. Sadly, they have decided to move out of state.

A few of us now have an irregular group. Usually at one of our homes. Often with new models that are either artists, or want to try "figure stuff". It is not the best, but the best I have at the current time.
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Old 08-02-2018, 09:56 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

Hey, in Williamsburg VA:

I just restarted my life-drawing group called "Greenhaven Art Group" (Greenhaven is the name of our family farm) an informal gathering of artists. We meet in my large and high-ceilinged living room, socialize for a bit over snacks, and draw for about three hours. I may be unusual in that I rarely have trouble finding a model, but artists is another matter. Of course the photography I have been doing of late with models does help there. (It is nice that our models are OK with a few photos, and we have taken reference photos to help artists develop their work more.)


I was having enough of a problem getting artists that I stopped doing the sessions, but now am inspired with a new model in town and about 8 artists committed.

We typically start with gestures, and progress to longer poses. One amusing thing my wife introduced from her college days posing, it's called the "Jester Jar" in it are slips of paper with pose ideas for the model. It takes a lot of the stress out of models who can't think of poses, and makes it kind of game-like. Artists and models are encouraged to add ideas to the jar.

If any of you are ever in Williamsburg Va USA, drop me a note at [email protected] , I'm always glad to have more artists.
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Old 08-03-2018, 06:37 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

This picture shows your ability as a photographer as well as an artist Fred. As an ex portrait photographer myself I know how important it is to light the subject properly. Unfortunately the group I attend is 'in the round'. Its on a university campus and I have no influence on the running of it. I do make gentle suggestions now and then though
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:03 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

I was trying to get photos of all the groups I attend but failed. I managed to get this one of the Friday morning sessions I help run (just after the break was called). Quite a narrow studio but sometimes the light is great.

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Old 09-12-2018, 04:15 AM
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Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

Good to picture where the magic happens, Nathan!
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Old 09-12-2018, 05:58 AM
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Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

Fred I just had a look at Williamsburg from the air... on Google Maps,
Iit looks to be a green and orderly place! and your group looks cosy!

getting enough people to attend is often a difficulty... along with a turnover of models I hope yours continues to flourish!

Nathan that looks to be a group of dedicated drawers... and just enough space to handle it!

The Art shop in Richmond here has a monthly group butI rarely get to it nowadays, I find Tuesday evenings inconvenient, and the space is very cramped, especially if more than about 7 or 8 people happen to turn up! we also use it for the portrait group but that is not so bad... at least we are reasonably close to the model!

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Old 10-19-2018, 04:23 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Tell us about your Life Drawing Groups

I have been attending 2 groups most weeks (I am somewhat dependent on a friend to get me to one of them):

Tuesday night, 7:30-9:30pm, at Yoga Warrier; this is the one I can walk to, about a half-hour's walk.

Then there's Saturday morning 9-12 at North Carolina Academy of Art. This is a very grand name for a small room with 11 easels arranged around a model platform under a skylight. Some come as students, and receive good classical tutelage; the rest of us come as independent artists (paying just $5/hour, same as all the local sessions).

The first (YW) is 2x5min then 10min, 10min. break, and the rest 20min (sometimes the last one is either 2x15 or 30--I much prefer the latter!). The second (NCAA) is 4x5, break, then the same pose for the rest of the morning 20 minutes at a time with 10 min. breaks. Both my friend and I much prefer this format, and I've been having lots of fun learning to do solid work instead of just outlines.

The one I used to go to, CAL (Charlotte Art League) was interrupted for several months... They used to be housed about 2-3 blocks from my home, but were evicted when landlord got an offer for a new building. They moved to an iffy/artsy neighborhood called NODA.

Charlotte has become (unaccountably to me) very "cool," and we reportedly have 69-100 new people arrive every DAY. That means, of course, we need a new apartment building just about every day. My father says the state bird is the crane....

Anyway, last week we heard that CAL finally got its Certificate of Occupancy, and will be having its grand reopening any day now. (So they were out from January to mid-October.) Their figure session is also Saturday morning, 8:30-10:30, and may adopt a different format, depending on what artists want. They are also $5/hr. Normally I would be able to get to CAL myself because their new home is right next to a light rail station. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Michael felled a couple of trees which knocked out light rail service over a large section in the middle of the light rail track; still not restored. Maybe by the end of next week....

I can't post any of my recent figures because I'm using a shared computer (in our "Computer Room," and whoever occasionally services these PCs doesn't allow them to use USB drives or any other input media. The horrible FBI criminals hacked all 3 of my iPads so I can't safely go online with any of them, and even hacked an old W7 laptop someone gave me. I suppose I might be able to use one of my smartphones, but I am currently keeping them with their batteries out most of the time because otherwise they are filled up with fake "evidence" against me (I'm apparently a terrorist, or aid to terrorists, or so they want to claim).

Anyone new to Charlotte: there is a Facebook page, apparently, called "Figure Drawing in and around Charlotte." The artists are a fairly congenial lot, so you would be warmly, if casually, welcomed.

Btw, I had 2 $200 commissions this summer for what my sister calls "architectural portraits!"

Last edited by FriendCarol : 10-19-2018 at 04:28 PM.
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