14x17 inches, Tombow marker on Strathmore drawing paper pad - 20 minutes
Since 2007 I've been working on my direct observation drawing by attending figure drawing classes. I started out with evening sessions at UW Madison, but eventually quit after a series of dates where the model never showed up. There was that, and the fact that I drive 40 minutes each way to get to the university, have to pay for parking, and then get out very late for me. Summer is also road construction season in Wisconsin, so it often meant long dark drives filled with alternate routes, or the need to negotiate a maze orange construction barrels. I often didn't get home until about 11:00 PM.
I finally discovered a non-instructional community figure drawing group that has been meeting at UW Whitewater since the 1970s. It's twenty miles closer, and the sessions are very affordable. While each session runs from 6-9 PM in the summer (schedules vary during the school year), I typically leave at 8:30 PM and get back home with enough time to put away my gear and settle down a bit before bedtime - even if there is road construction, as there is this year.
My early drawing were a sincere effort to be as accurate and beautiful as possible, but most of the drawings just look pallid and tight. I have learned that the longer I work and rework, the less interesting the results are to my eyes. So my preference is for a series of quick warm ups and shorter poses. The majority of people who show up to draw at Whitewater seem to prefer longer poses, which occasionally puts us at odds. They want to study in depth; I want to collect shapes and experiment with materials and color. So usually I just move around, or attempt two drawing during an extended pose.
14x11 inches, pastel on 93 lb. Bee Paper notebook - 25 minutes
I have used watercolor, acrylic, graphite pencils, ink pens, all sorts of media. But this summer I've been using exclusive dry media, charcoal, conte crayons, pastels, or brush tip markers. I'm fond of a Golden pastel medium that I brush on the paper ahead of time to create good tooth, and I bring along pieces of plastic to put between the pages to keep things neat until I can get the sketchbooks home and spray fix the pages. I've been trying to be bold and bright, focusing on shapes and the way light plays on the figure, rather than trying to make a technically perfect rendering.
11x14 inches, pastel on 93 lb. Bee Paper, "Aquabee" - 45 minutes
The other experiment I tried last night was using a lightweight portable easel for drawing. I don't like to drawing while standing, so instead of using the heavy duty easel the school provides, I typically sat at a drawing horse and worked there, often with my sketchbook clipped to a portable drawing board. I got a good deal at University Bookstore recently on a Norcross Steel Tripod Easel. It's very light, has a nice carrying case with a shoulder strap, and is quick and easy to set up. My notebooks sit securely on the easel, and I found it to be perfect for comfortable drawing last night.