by Cutter Kilgore
Jeanice Gates, who describes herself as “old school,” is not entirely comfortable in her figure drawing class. “It’s the naked models,” she said. “It takes some getting used to.”
She said drawing live nude models is slightly different than she expected. “The fact that they’re naked, there’s just some things that don’t need to be seen,” she said.
Gates, who intends to major in graphic design, said she censors herself a little when she draws. “I’m learning that’s just a part of art.”
Students in this class study drawing from the human form; they use various media to cast figures onto pages and bring life to paper. Or bring paper to life.
Morgan Caleb calls herself a career artist. Before class, she puts a few finishing touches on a color pastel drawing of a nude man.
“I find that it’s calming,” she said about the class atmosphere. “There’s a no-pressure environment where I can let loose and just do my work. My portionality has gotten better throughout my time in this class.”
During class, the students stand with their easels in an approximate circle around models posing nude on a small stage. The models shift positions periodically to the sounds of tearing paper art pads and scribbled sketching.
“As far as I can tell, they’re pretty comfortable in their own skin,” said Caleb of the models. “At first I thought it would be awkward. It’s actually not as uncomfortable as one would think.”
The models go from standing to crouching and even lying down as students draw, trying to capture the open gestures in pencils or vine charcoal.
Leslie Desner says, “The human body is beautiful.” To her, the class is a valuable way to gain experience drawing.
“It’s really challenging,” she said. “One of my favorite things is it’s a long class, which lets you get into your drawing.”
There’s usually a 10 minute session to begin, with the models changing positions every few minutes, so students can spend some time drawing “warm ups.”
“It forces you to get out of your brain a bit and just start drawing,” said Desner.
All the while, soothing classical music permeates the air with orchestral violin and cello strings from a CD player belonging to the instructor, Caryn Friedlander.
“She’s an amazing instructor,” Desner said. “I’ve learned a lot from her.”