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SKETCHBOOK: a creative tool and a way of life that celebrates design and drawing as vital ways to see and value culture, to discover ideas, and to envision a better world.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Life Drawing for Designers...

A few short years ago, I undertook a life drawing class for the first time, for a number of reasons. I wanted to improve my figure sketching skills, of course. But I'd been intrigued by the fact that many schools of architecture in the U.S. once required at least one life drawing course, and now very few did. By contrast, my architect friends from parts of Europe and South America had life drawing as a required part of their very early training. I'd spoken with a successful glass sculptor in New Orleans, who'd shown me his incredible sketchbooks, and told me that his creative search for form "all goes back to life drawing." And while interviewing my sculptor friend Carl Fougerousse on the topic of creative process, he told me, "Drawing the figure is at the core of it. One, it’s an incredibly complex problem. We know the human form so well intuitively that we can tell and see immediately when something’s not right proportionally, or in terms of structure, perspective, balance or anatomy. It has to have a certain truth about it that we immediately recognize."

And that, for me, has been the essence of it. Regardless of our creative focus, life drawing skills can help us create work that rooted in our own intuitive humanity, and so strikes us as believable and true, and that other human beings can relate to and empathize with. While this will strike my most of my artist friends as obvious, not many of us trained in schools of architecture and design, at least in the U.S., have had the opportunity to experience this first hand.

Earlier this week, I thumbed through those life drawing sketchbooks that I filled studying with the brilliant teacher Michael O'Keefe at his studio in Richardson, Texas. I was surprised at how these sketches moved me, and how the lessons I'd learned came flooding back. I thought some would be worthwhile sharing--smudges and all--and hope you enjoy them for what they are—evidence of that imperfect search for the truth of the moment.