For many people, sitting and staring at a naked body for hours on end is rather intimidating – even for those of us who are used to pushing boundaries and trying new things. Nudity, as a whole, often stirs up feelings of shock, embarrassment, or amusement. Life drawing, however, encourages artists to view the naked body in an entirely different fashion. It’s a great way to develop artistic skills and step outside of your comfort zone. Whether you’re considering giving life drawing a go, or you’re undecided but would like to learn more about the experience, this article is for you.
Throughout October, Mancunion contributor Daisy Spurrier attended different life drawing classes across Manchester. We explore Daisy’s experience at a recent class in Chorlton and what it has to offer.
Chorlton Alternative Arts Sessions, The Edge Theatre, Chorlton
Every Wednesday from 19:30 – 21:30, Chorlton Life Drawing hosts classes that welcome all abilities. There is no pressure to pre-book – you can just show up on the day, and pay for the class at the end of the night. Each class costs £7 (for students) and provides attendees with all the artistic materials needed for the session. The venue also offers food and drink that can be purchased from the café and bar onsite.
Dan, who has recently run some of the sessions, explains that the aim of the evening is to create a fun environment where attendees can enjoy the artistic process. He emphasised that “people enjoy creating stuff with their hands, charcoal, pencil – whatever it is… they enjoy the mindfulness of it.”
Writing about her experience of the class first-hand, Daisy describes how she attended the event with friends who “wanted to spend an evening getting creative and relaxing outside of the mid-week university stress.”
“Before arriving, I was nervous. I hadn’t been to a life drawing session for a few years. However, the general atmosphere reassured my apprehensions as a (somewhat) newcomer. There were people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities – each of whom employed their own style. Some people brought their own inks, paints, and papers, but for beginners, there is no stress. You are given all the materials you need for the evening.”
At the start of the class, attendees are invited to take a seat while the model undresses and gets into position. The model then changes pose at different intervals, ranging from every minute to every fifteen minutes. Daisy describes how this process “may seem awkward or even humorous at first – but actually, at the time, all I was thinking about was how to capture the poses on paper within the given timeframe.”
Reflecting on the mindfulness element, Daisy recounts her experience as stress-relieving: “I found I didn’t think about the overwhelming number of things I had to do that week. I was engaged in the present moment as the two hours raced by. After the final pose, I suddenly became aware I was in a room full of people. I was amazed by the work produced by those around me. There were so many different perspectives and mediums used to capture the model’s figure beautifully.”
At the end of each session, the group goes for a drink at a nearby bar. Daisy explained going along provides “a great opportunity for creative individuals to connect with each other. Sharing ideas on the artistic process is valuable, as each person will experience each session differently.”
At the end of the night, she revealed she, “left the class feeling energised and motivated by the technical progress made in [her] artwork”. She also felt “inspired by the engaging conversations shared with other attendees.”
For those who are interested in trying a life drawing class, Daisy advises “there are multiple ways to benefit from trying it out: from experiencing a meditative moment, to immersing yourself in an inclusive social space. It’s also a bonus that you get to leave with some colourful artwork for your walls.”
If you’re looking to get involved in life drawing, check out Chorlton Alternative Arts online, or on Facebook and Instagram. Other organisers hosting similar events include: Life Drawing Manchester, Life Drawing at Sandbar, and Life Drawing with Indy Arts.