Figure Drawing and Independent Projects, an 8-session course held by The Smithsonian Associates, began on Sunday. Artist Max-Karl Winkler is the instructor, who has taught studio arts courses since 1968 and whose illustrations have been published by the likes of The Washington Post. This month marks his 25th anniversary of working with The Smithsonian Associates.
Artists from every experience level trickled in, set up their easels, donned their smocks and readied their charcoals. The instructor blanketed the model’s platform and angled the studio lights, and the model took his position on the pedestal. Jiri Stavovcik is one of the best models this side of the Mississippi, Winkler voiced. I was convinced as soon as he seemed to come alive under the dramatic lighting, his pose intense and purposeful from fingertip to facial expression to toe. At first, keeping up with the short pose intervals was stressful – It was as if my hand was racing the clock. But the 3 minute, 2 minute and 30-second intervals were strategic in getting the students to loosen up and capture gesture and form. This is always the hardest part about drawing for me – breaking loose from inhibition and perfectionism, my inner nagging voice. The exercise allowed my body to take over, to “feel” the figure rather than see it, and prepared me for the longer poses.
Next the instructor requested specific poses of the model for the 25 minute sets: an inclined standing pose, an upright seated pose, and finally a sideways fetal position. As students sketched, he would circle the room giving tips and occasional commentary. Beginning drawers had the option to step outside and hear a more in-depth talk on proportions and anatomy. Three hours passed by in no time, and I already sense an improvement in my figure drawing skills. But there is still so much to learn and the next 7 weeks will provide invaluable practice.
The course is held every Sunday, 1-4 pm from October 14-December 16, 2012.