Working from a live model is one of the best ways to learn to paint or draw the human figure. There are many times, though, when you may not have access to a workshop where there are live models to draw from. So what’s an artist to do??
Draw or paint a stature, of course!
Many galleries and museums will let you sit and sketch, as long as you don’t make a mess, from the various statues and sculptures on exhibit. (If you want to use paints though, maybe check with them ahead of time).There are certain rooms where you’re not allowed to photograph, but there are plenty of rooms where you can draw, and always plenty of benches to sit on.
If you’re in California, do as I do and check out the Getty. Here’s a photo of one the sculptures there that I like to draw, perfectly lit for great detail, light, and shadow:
And this is a sketch I did of another one that I saw at the Getty:
If you live in the city, you’ll probably come across statues and sculptures in your daily outings and routine. In banks, parks, government buildings, civic centers, churches, and some universities there are plenty of opportunities to practice sketching figures (or at least heads!) and learn about shadows and highlights as they fall across the human form. Best of all, you never have to worry about them moving or changing position!
Even if you’re not religious person, make sure to check out the churches in your area. Some are open during the day when there are no services, and you can just sit down, watch for lights and shadows and start drawing.
I spotted the angel statue shown above during our local Brewery Art Walk last year, partially lit by the sun and partially in shadow, so I just had to sit down to do a quick sketch. Later on I finished it at home (I took photos as well) and the final result is what you see in front of you!
So if you’re in need of a good life model that doesn’t move, do a quick Google search for statues and sculptures in your area, and see what’s close! All you need is a couple of pencils and an eraser (or some markers like Prismacolor grays for different values) and a sketch pad. It’s a free, easy, and fun way to get more practice drawing the figure—even if it’s not technically “drawing from life!”
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