Myself as model

I’ve felt a surge of body love lately. I believe it’s the result of weeks of figure painting and several sessions of a capoeira intro series (two months for $60, can you believe it?). I’m feeling strong and good and beautiful these days, and I love it. I also really miss the figure studio; the RAC won’t offer it again until September.

So the other day, when I caught sight of myself in a mirror and liked the view, my reaction was to snatch up sketchbook and pencil and start recording what I saw.

Quick full-figure drawing of myself

This took about 5-10 minutes.

I guess it’s about accurate. It might be a little elongated because of the odd angle of drawing myself at close quarters in a full-length mirror — Erik thinks my head looks too small — but it looks generally right to me. This is amazing, because normally when I try to draw myself I think I look all lumpy and bulgy and unattractive.

I wish I could do a longer version of this, without clothes, but I really don’t know if that will work. One of my fellow artists in the uninstructed life studio has done a full-body painting of himself but I don’t know how he did it; it might have to be from a photo since he somehow managed to get both front and back into it! But I’d prefer not to use photos.

I did have the interesting experience, last week, of posing nude for Erik as he sketched me. This was by my request; eventually I want to do paintings of friends, and I feel I have no right to ask others to model for me (unprofessionally) if I haven’t given it a shot myself. I learned a lot even from one hour of doing this, and my already great respect for professional models grew still greater. I have no hopes of ever becoming a really good model, but I’d like to do it again sometime because I found it very peaceful. I’m not accustomed to being so still, and it’s good for me.

Erik has very decent drawing skills but he’s out of practice, and quick sketches were never his forte. But with that in mind, I think he did very well. Anyway it was pure magic seeing myself rendered into lines on the page.

Four-minute sketch by my husband of me nude

Four minutes.

Yesterday I attempted to paint myself, which presented more challenges than simply sketching my reflection with pencil. Watercolor is not a good medium to use when standing, so I had to sit; it’s also a slow medium, so I had the additional difficulty of having to pose for a longer time. At first I tried to do a quick painting without a preliminary pencil sketch — this is mostly what I did during the RAC sessions — and it just didn’t work. At least for now, it’s too hard a thing to do while I’m trying to move between holding still and painting. Colors are nice though.

Watercolor drawing of myself seated at desk

Me seated at desk

I tried again, this time with a careful pencil sketch. This effort took me about two hours, start to finish, including breaks. I’m still not totally satisfied with it — and the face drives me crazy — but it’s a huge improvement on the previous attempt! And it was fun putting in the fantasy background. Someday I really do want a room that’s painted in those colors.

Seated self-portrait in watercolors

Second attempt

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