David Orme-Johnson has been regularly attending the weekly figure drawing sessions at Studio b. Colleen invited him to be our guest artist this week. David showed us a number of drawings in which he had done most of the drawing using both hands simultaneously. In the later stages of each drawing, he executes the details just using one hand. His website contains other examples along with galleries of his other work. He talked about the process and the fun he has had since discovering that although he is right-handed, he can draw ambidextrously, and can even write script backwards.
Our model was unable to make it, so the artists took turns sitting as model for 5 or 10 minute poses (clothed). I think all artists who work from models should be made to model now and then, to maintain their appreciation. Modeling can be excruciating if you are not balanced well or if you are holding a slightly unusual position. For my first seated pose, I looked up towards the ceiling. My neck was starting to spasm after only 2½ minutes. (I see why our experienced models never look at the ceiling.)
I tried drawing with both hands like David, but I confused myself before I even started. I wanted to draw the model and draw the mirror image at the same time, which would have created a symmetrical drawing of two women seated, facing away from each other. The model was facing left. If I had been watching my left hand, and making my right hand just do the same thing but backwards, I think I might have had some success. Instead, I was trying to translate the model’s pose into its reverse in my mind, and draw that reverse pose with my right hand, while my left hand tried to copy my right hand. Pretty soon I didn’t know which direction either hand should go. I wasn’t very happy with my drawing, but I think I could practice and become better at it. (Click on picture at right for larger view.)
For the remainder of the class I enjoyed quickly sketching each artist as they took their turn posing. Weekly figure drawing has helped me to be able to get the basic body position drawn in a hurry. The problem is that some artists don’t just wear T-shirts and shorts like normal people. Instead they wear funky clothes and accessories that are a visual feast, so each pose ended way too soon, before I could start playing with the fabrics and textures. Following are a couple of my sketches from that session. I worked with either graphite or tinted graphite on 18″ x 24″ manilla. I sketched the gesture with white conte first.