Life drawing: pencils at the ready

Lucy Meekley 9 February 2015

Last week I attended ArcSoc’s ‘SATURATE’ Cabaret, where personally the most unusual – yet best – feature of the night was the opportunity to do life drawing. Sketching the human body armed with only a red Crayola and a piece of flimsy paper, whilst also being slightly (very) intoxicated, was a surreal experience to say the least. Basically I loved it. Previously, I had been used to the standard ‘A-Level Art classroom’ set-up; but ArcSoc gave me a fresh look at life drawing, and I had forgotten how much I missed it. So, after the night had ended, I started thinking about the sober life drawing available to us around Cambridge.

This week, I chose to go to the Friday evening life drawing class held at Scroope Terrace, home to the Architecture & History of Art departments. The setting for the class is the dark, dim lecture hall, with small wooden chairs set up in a semi circle surrounding one single, atmospherically lit spot. For those who have never been to life drawing before: charcoal, paper, and a board is provided in the session; however I chose to bring along my own textured paper and oil pastels to start experimenting with my medium, a risky move for somebody who had agreed to show their work in a TCS column…  

Ability seriously doesn’t matter when it comes to life drawing. A shifting subject is a challenge to even the most accomplished artists, and the activity itself is all about making mistakes. Being experimental is a vital part of being creative, yet experimenting means sometimes you get it wrong…so its fine to mess up! All that matters is the level of concentration you give, and the effort you put into discovering your own way of drawing. In the session, everyone keeps their own work private should they wish, so for those who are nervous about their ability, there is no need for anyone else to see your work.

I feel life drawing is an experience all should try at least once. Creatively expressing yourself is liberating, as the level of attention needed to focus on drawing – especially on details such as hands and feet – allows you to ‘zone out’ for a while and forget about that deadline. And as the 2 hours fly by I realise it is just what I needed as a time-out. For those who would never try it again- if nothing else, respect for another human being as a model and subject is gained. And for those who feel they wouldn’t like to draw but would like to pose, I hear the sessions are always looking for models.

The Architecture Department run life drawing sessions every Friday 7pm-9-pm, £4 for students. Alternatively: Christ’s College run life drawing sessions every Wednesday 7pm-9pm. £5 for students. Do it.