I was recently recalling to a friend how I first became interested in figure drawing and my first experience with drawing a nude model.
I was 17 and in my senior year of high school. I was taking a “Portfolio Development” class offered to high school students by a local university. It was very exciting at the time to be selected to participate in the course and I was never happier than when I was dropped off at the university on Saturday mornings to spend the entire day drawing.
We participated in various common drawing class exercises that we might not have had the chance to explore as in depth in our typical high school classes. We drew shoe’s, drapery, chairs, still life’s. Some weeks into the course we began drawing clothed models. I enjoyed all of it just because I loved drawing but also at the time I hadn’t found what it was that I had a passion for drawing. I just knew I loved to draw and that I wanted to go onto college for it and would figure out the rest when I got there.
After working with a clothed model for 2 weeks, the following week we came into class and took our seats in one of the 2 circles around model stands. The models came out as they did in the previous weeks, one male and one female each taking a model stand. Something was a little different this time, the models were dressed in robes.
When they got to their stands they simply dropped their robes. The room was ablaze in gasps, gulps and whispers. Mind you this was a room of about 30 high school seniors who had never seen a nude model before. We were not informed this would happen and needless to say we were all taken back quite a bit. Another boy from my school and I giggled to each other in awkward disbelief of the naked woman in front of us. One of the female students sitting in the circle around the male model actually fainted and made a loud crashing sound as she fell off her metal stool. She ended up being ok.
After a few minutes of commotion we all began to settle down and just draw. It didn’t take long for me to realize there was nothing sexual about what was happening. She wasn’t ‘naked’ at all she was ‘nude’. It also didn’t take me very long to realize how amazing it was to sketch the human form. It was an intensely complex challenge and I loved that about it. There was so much happening, much of it beneath the surface. The figure before me was a living breathing person, her figure and how she posed was a direct result of who she was. I was sitting sketching before one of the most beautiful and complex creations in all of existence, the human form. It was simply amazing.
I got it, I got it right away, and it was right then and has ever since been true love.