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Old 05-21-2006, 01:39 PM   #1
Linda Brandon Linda Brandon is offline
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A Lot of Free Life Models




Here is what you can do to do to increase your time working from live models:

First, make sure you can draw well enough so that you don't thoroughly embarrass yourself the first day. I am assuming you have been drawing objects over and over and over again for years. Specifically, draw over and over again the oval shape of the head, where the eyes are on a line in the middle of the face, the location of the ears, etc. etc. in the full face (and easiest ) pose. (If you can get the location of the features right and add big eyes (for children) and pouty lips (for women) you will be halfway home in your drawings for many people. Incidentally, caricaturists frequently do this.) Then, buy a Planes of the Head cast and try this at home with a light in the classic portrait setup.

Secondly, set yourself up somewhere with your charcoal setup and inexpensive paper, two chairs, a timer and a portable light. Put your subjects in the same full face position, where you can see both ears and be lit from above, so there is a shadow on the nose that doesn't hit the upper lip. Make a big sign that says "Free Charcoal Drawings" and settle down for a few hours. (You can also try this with your oil paints but maybe not your first time out there.)

Take time figuring out where the "somewhere" should be. One of my favorite artists did this in a busy shop that his friend owned, one Saturday a month and the friend promoted the artist and put out flyers. The line of willing models went out the door.

I suggest that you take the position that you are creating free sketches - don't sign them with your signature. Be prepared to take some hits to the Ego of Vous. At first you will have only be successful with, oh, maybe one out of ten but in a short while this ratio will get much better and most importantly you will gain confidence.

If you're going to work in a park or on the street be sure you research the local ordinances against vagrancy and solicitation. Even if you aren't selling anything you can still be hassled for sidewalk obstruction, and then you'll be pushed into the gutter where you may be taking up valuable parking space.

What you should NOT do is take along a photo and show everybody how skilled you are at copying it. You will be ridiculed by passersby who snipe, "Oh, he's just copying a photo", and you will deserve it.

Your goal is to live and breath making art, to let seeing and drawing or painting flow seamlessly from you into your art. Get tough about criticism and rejection - all it means is that certian people are not with you on your planet, which is fine - others will enjoy you, and nobody is for everybody. (Nevertheless, get better, for heaven's sake, and seek out artists who can help you grow to be a better artist.) You must get your confidence level up - winning awards doesn't do it, DOING the work does it.

Remember that you are a drawing and painting machine! When somebody asks you to paint him, you don't say, "Oh, wait until I take the photo and go Photoshop it and then I'll get back to you." YOU PAINT. You're an artist, that's what you do.
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Old 05-21-2006, 03:36 PM   #2
Sharon Knettell Sharon Knettell is offline
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Right on!

I have done thisat parties and fund raisers. It is a great way to really learn how to grab the salient features quickly.

Working and demoing from life in public is nerve wracking. I know this from the three years I taught at the Rhode Island School of Design. However nervous I was, I reminded myself that the model was free and the experience was invaluable.

First of all it frees you from the conception you have to produce a masterpiece, you just gotta draw and hope you survive.

Great piece Linda, thank-you for your effort in posting it.
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Old 05-22-2006, 10:59 AM   #3
Michele Rushworth Michele Rushworth is offline
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I did exactly what Linda is recommending for two summers when I was in college. (I was paid for it by a company who had all the necessary permits etc. but otherwise the idea was the same.) Over those two summers I must have done 500 full color pastel portraits from life, in less than an hour each. What great training and experience. It made me fearless about tackling anything and doing it in front of a crowd, too. I highly recommend it, even if it's done for free. Where else can you get models lining up out the door for your work?
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Old 05-23-2006, 09:57 PM   #4
Paul Foxton Paul Foxton is offline
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Thanks for the post Linda, I think that's a great idea. I don't think I've quite got this bit:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda Brandon
First, make sure you can draw well enough so that you don't thoroughly embarrass yourself the first day
yet, but I'm working on it. I've got this filed away for later.
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Old 05-23-2006, 11:00 PM   #5
Richard Bingham Richard Bingham is offline
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Maybe you should plan on embarrassing yourself the first day . . . what's the worst that can happen? If you get harrassed too much, hand the heckler the charcoal . . . one of two things will happen: either they'll "fold" and concede your skill, or they'll show you something and you'll learn from it. I'm betting on the former.
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Old 05-23-2006, 11:38 PM   #6
Linda Brandon Linda Brandon is offline
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Paul, from what I can tell on your site, you are an exceptionally talented artist who is terrific with people - I predict lines going out the door. And I'd like to be drawn by you, too!
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Old 05-24-2006, 04:46 AM   #7
Paul Foxton Paul Foxton is offline
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Heh, Richard, that's a good point.

Linda - are you sure you were at the right web site?

You've convinced me. If it goes well I'll come back and report, if it goes badly and I get beaten up, arrested or laughed out of town I'll just go very quiet and pretend I never went in the first place.
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Old 06-05-2006, 12:05 PM   #8
Linda Brandon Linda Brandon is offline
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I've been getting a few emails recently about photos vs. life work and so I want to clarify my own feelings about the subject. My best day is when I get to work from life. My second best day is when I get to work from a photo. (I think I am paraphrasing a sports coach here, maybe Vince Lombardi...?) The point is, I'll try to get it done however I can.

All I'm trying to say is that any way you can get good work done is better than no way at all. What ultimately matters is your product, and you must get your work done before your lights go out and your time to make art is over. But working from life will make any work you do from photos much, much stronger.
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Old 06-05-2006, 05:59 PM   #9
Jonathan Hardesty Jonathan Hardesty is offline
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This is a great idea. This sounds like something fun I could do with my students as well. Although I might need to wait till it's fall here in Texas...right now it's excruciatingly hot.

It seems like this might be a great way to get models for more involved paintings as well. You hook them with the first one .
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Old 06-05-2006, 08:27 PM   #10
John Reidy John Reidy is offline
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Thank you, thank you, thank you.

What a wonderful idea!

I'm going to take a gut check and see if I can do this. If I do I'll report back as well.
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