A fantastic life drawing session

Linea – 5

If you have been to more than one life drawing sessions, you have probably experienced exactly what I am going to talk about in this article. It is very true that not all life drawing sessions are equally successful and productive. There are many different parameters that can affect your performance. No matter what, my recommendation is to never give up. That’s the only way to keep learning and trust me; the next session could be the best one you have been so far!

Iasonas Bakas Charcoal Female Portrait

What could ruin your session

There are a few reasons that could possibly affect how you enjoy and perform during a life drawing session. I will list only a few below; the list can be quite long!

  • A bad start : This is probably the most serious for myself. A bad start can literally ruin the rest of the evening for me. This is usually directly related to one or more of the below.
  • Lighting: Even when having the best intention to draw a figure accurately and realistically, bad lighting can be a serious drawback. Make sure you choose the right light (or request changes if someone else is dealing with that).
  • Model: Sometimes the model has a difficult figure. There is nothing bad with this one (it can actually be a challenge for you). However, it could be one of the reasons why drawing very well is just not happening in that very session.
  • Poses/Position: Everyone has their preferences regarding the poses. I personally like standing poses more, others might equally like lying ones. In any case not enjoying the pose (or the position you are drawing from), can make your life more difficult during the session (and your drawing less successful).
  • Personal Reasons: Well I guess this one doesn’t need too much of explanation. I f you just had a bad day or you are feeling unwell, it can be very tricky to concentrate on drawing. Sometimes of course it can work the other way around!

There are many reasons why your session might not go so well. However, there are so many other reasons why you should keep going to life drawing sessions that in the end it is totally worth making the effort to go next time! It will probably be a good one (like mine below).

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Fast pace, warm up!

The last session started with the usual warm up exercises. A series of 5 minute poses kept the artists working fast, and concentrated. All 4 were standing poses which I particularly like (I have a preference for standing poses as I find them more sculptural and easy to capture). The model was left to make the decisions regarding the next poses; this sped up the process very much.

Incomplete drawings, satisfied artist.

I drew 4 incomplete drawings; but strangely I was very happy with all of them. The reason is because for each one of those, my intention was to capture the “gesture” more than anything. See above two of them, and below another two.

Iasonas Bakas Charcoal Female Figure drawing 4

A first attempt drawing a portrait

Although I have tried previously to draw a portrait, I never seriously made an effort to capture face features etc. For this session’s long pose I focused on drawing the portrait, ignoring any other part of the body. I practiced defining planes (side of the face, cheeks, eye sockets, nose etc). For this exercise my previous knowledge of the structure of the head helped me a lot. Notice the contrast on the nose, the philtrum and the hand. Also, see the structure of the zygomatic bone and the forehead.


I was very pleased to be back in class, trying new techniques and incorporating new elements to my drawing. I hope you enjoyed reading the article and I trust that if you have already read up to this point you are seriously considering attending life drawing sessions (if you aren’t already!)

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