One isn’t able to stare at people; one isn’t able to completely drink in their appearance other than this situation. But a quiet long look at something searchingly is extremely unusual and everybody’s interest in it.
Now one of the first things to say about drawing is you’ll be asking questions, when you’ll be looking at the figure you’ll be asking questions, and the sort of questions you’ll be asking are firstly what is the scale I’m going to be making this drawing at? Now are you familiar with the expression “sight size”? What that means is if you hold your pencil at arm’s length you can take measurements off that pencil with your thumb.
It’s very important to get a few things you can be absolutely convinced about, because if you don’t get onto solid ground with a few places and measurements everything will shift around. You’ll push it one place and drawing will bulge out in another.
Forget art, forget yourself, forget expression, we don’t want any of this we’re just looking carefully and asking whether our drawing has a true relation to what we’re looking at.
Okay can I just, I’m going to draw on here if you don’t mind. This is all not what I can see. You see it don’t you?
Yes but its changing a little bit.
It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, don’t blame the model.
So you’ve got to find a way of convincing me his shoulder isn’t like this, his shoulders like this, see?
See his back, its more extreme, do it go on, go further than you think you can.
Are you sure?
Absolutely, absolutely it’s more extreme than you’ve got.
When you get exhausted with going over and over the line and the silhouette, just go inside and see if you can find things to draw, and I think it will give you a way of coming back out to the perimeter, and you know Delacroix used to talk about finding the form from the inside, so the form swirls from the inside it doesn’t cut into from the outside.
Life drawing returns us to our complexity, so it’s profoundly different from the conceptual view of the human. It’s a real view of the human, and it’s the detail of how people appear that’s crucial, and it’s having the chance of looking at something so emotive as another person, with care that brings out their individuality, that’s a cultural value of immense importance.