Friday, 30 October 2015

Life drawing at The Wallace Collection

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a life drawing workshop at The Wallace Collection. This museum is described on its website 'as a national museum in a historic London town house'. It is actually much more like a stately home that happens to be in a London square and dominates the surrounding town houses.

This workshop was jointly organised by SMart Network, which was established in 2000 to empower socially marginalised people through creative activities, and The Wallace Collection. The workshop lasted for five hours which sounds like a long time but disappeared in a flash partly because of the way the workshop was organised.

Silla, the Roman
Our tutor briefly explained how art students were traditionally trained during the 18th and 19th centuries. Then he proceeded to give us, the participants, a brief experience of what that may have been like. Initially he had us making sketches from printed handouts to enhance our hand-eye co-ordination and we concentrated on hands, feet and heads. Then we tackled a drawing of a bust of Silla the Roman dictator.

Perseus and Andromeda
by Fran├žois Lemoyne
This was followed by an all too brief visit to the galleries upstairs where we continued with the hands, feet and heads theme and chose a detail from one of the paintings to try and copy. I chose Perseus and Andromeda by Fran├žois Lemoyne and you can see a reproduction of it here.

I tend to avoid life drawing because I find it so difficult and the last time I went on a course was nearly three years ago (you can see those efforts here). After lunch our life model arrived and further avoidance was useless. We packed in several two minute poses followed by some five minute poses finishing up with two 25 minute poses. You'll be glad to know the model was given regular breaks during the afternoon which we all took advantage of too.

This was my first visit to The Wallace Collection and I can't imagine how I've managed to live in London for 36 years and never paid this fascinating museum a visit. I will certainly be returning soon so I can take my time to roam around the galleries and enjoy the many exhibits.

Two minute poses
Five minute poses
First 25 minute pose
Final 25 minute pose


Anonymous said...

well done in tackling something you do not like to do. I was lucky that I did my foundation year at Camberwell which was resolutely based on life drawing at the time - 4 days out of 5. At Bath, Anna Dutto and I had to hire life models (the college paid) so it became less of a habit but I still enjoy the challenge from time to time. Wish I had the confidence to sketch people in natural situations but it been years since I was surrounded by people to do that. Most days, I see myself reflected in a mirror and that is it.
I am surprised you haven't been to the Wallace, it was one of my favourites because it was a 10 minute bus ride or a 15 min walk from our flat in St John's Wood. I really do miss all the art that is available in the UK. Lots of it in the USA but its so far away.

Heather James said...

Four days out of five! That's quite a commitment. We also did life drawing on foundation but it was in the evenings and only once a week. We also had to do life drawing at Bath but the sessions were always organised for us, we didn't have to hire the models ourselves. Same art college different departments.