Life drawing in a pub

Julian – 5

Do you ever feel that you have been doing the same thing over and over again, that a change is needed, and you would like to challenge yourself meeting new people. Well, this week, I had the chance to try a different life drawing experience. A different venue, a different group of artists, a pint of beer to start with and a pint after we finished. This week I went for a life drawing session at the Curfew, Bath.

The venue

For those thinking that the model was posing nude in the middle of the pub, this is not the case. When I arrived, I was welcomed at the bar by the model himself and another artist. I had a short chat with them, before finishing my beer and going upstairs, where the life drawing session would be hosted. The “studio” was a small but very nicely decorated pub function room. I felt very comfortable instantly as I had worked with Julian (model) previously.

Picture of the space where the life drawing sessions are held at The Curfew, Bath.
Photo: The Curfew website

The organisation

The session was by far the most efficient I have ever been to. We started with 5 short poses, 2 minutes each. The timing was very strict with a warning 10 seconds before the end of each pose. The model was left to decide the poses which saved a lot of time and discussion. Then we did a 15 minutes lying pose, before we moved on to the long 1 hour sitting pose.

Warming up with quick poses

The five poses are below. I had no time for shading or any details. I only worked on capturing the gesture of the pose. I am generally quite happy with the result. I found it quite challenging but also motivating to work focused. This quick exercise was very helpful in terms of concentrating on the model and using previous knowledge on human anatomy. They are all drawn with charcoal.

despair life drawing model pose charcoal, the curfew bath
short life drawing poses charcoal, the curfew bath

Did you know that there are more life drawing session descriptions available? Discover the challenges and have a feel of the rewards of attending a Life Drawing Session. It might inspire you to join one!

Intermediate stage

Before we move on to the long pose, the facilitator of the session asked the model to take a pose for 15 minutes. The model lied on a small sofa with one leg hanging of the furniture touching the floor and the other folded and looking up. The one arm was over the model’s chest and the other supporting his head. This pose was not incredibly difficult, however it took me some time to get my head around so I ended up adding no tone or details. Quite useful preparation for the long pose though.

life drawing session in bath, charcoal lying pose, the curfew

The long pose

Finally, we had an hour to draw a sitting pose. It was quite a natural pose and at an interesting angle. The model sat on the same sofa with his arms crossed in front of his chest. I spend about 30 minutes sketching this pose on my small sketch pad using a simple pen. My normal sketch pad is quite big and unfortunately no easels or big enough surfaces were available. I got tired of using the big pad after a while.

life drawing sitting pose using a pen, the curfew bath

After finishing my first sketch I decided to re-draw the same thing, but much faster and less carefully. This drawing took me about 10 minutes. It was more of an expression of energy rather than an attempt to draw something beautiful. I like the comparison of the two.

Finally, the last few minutes of the session I decided to draw two quick portraits. Again these are far from detailed or carefully drawn, however they catered for my need for expression and letting a pen do its own thing on the paper!

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11 thoughts on “Life drawing in a pub

  1. It looks like a great class. I like the quicker sketch of the seated model, although proportions might be better in the other. It is tricky trying to keep the spontaneous line when a longer pose is called for. A question. Do you keep your hand on the paper when you sketch, or do you lift your arm, moving from the elbow?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Vivienne! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree with you regarding the two sketches. For me, energy and line flow is more important at this stage. I always think that trying too hard to achieve perfect proportions or details is taking away the satisfaction of having a vivid drawing. But this is only a personal view ๐Ÿ™‚

      Regarding my sketching technique, it depends on the scale of the drawing really. I tend to use my whole arm as much as I can, especially when drawing on big paper on an easel. I find that movement from elbow downwards helps in drawing more fluid and continuous lines. When keeping my arm on the paper I tend to draw much stiffer and reserved lines which are only good when drawing very well defined shapes (ie buildings or objects).

      Do you have a preference drawing with your whole forearm or just using the lower part of your arm/hand?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When working to achieve the outline, I always use my whole arm. I make light marks at first (whether pencil or charcoal) until I think I’ve got the figure placed well on my paper. I would probably put my hand on the paper (with small paper towel under the heel of hand), when I’m working the detail up in the face, feet or hands.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes sounds like a good way of doing it. My first mistake when I started life drawing was pushing my pencil too hard. My outlines were so bold.

      Getting the shape roughly right, with good proportions foreshortening etc is important. This is where you need flexibility on your pencil marking. When moving on to details you can probably justify smaller, more careful movements of your pen, pencil or charcoal. Knowing when to use each technique is quite important and it comes with experience I believe. Trial and error, you see what looks better and next time you follow that path.

      Do you follow a life drawing course, read a book or have a tutor?


  3. My current drawing instructor would be all over your life sketches! You have just that tentative line he is urging on me, to leave room to change my mind. Anyway, I like your figure sketches a lot myself. And thank you for looking at my exhibit announcement!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carol. Thanks for your kind words. I started drawing very heavy lines and bold outlines and I was heavily criticised by my tutor. I made an effort to change that, and using lighter lines works very well for me now. As you say it allows some flexibility at later stages of drawing. This is however just one part of it. I think if you get the gesture of the pose right then you are more flexible to play with the linewileight and add depth by using a variety of line thickness and darkness.

      I follow your art and I am always very happy to see your latest work.

      Kind regards,

      Liked by 1 person

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