Teaching Drawing: Demo Portrait

Portrait of Tom
Graphite in Paper, 8×5″
This is Tom, a former student of mine who models for my life drawing class now. It is nearly midterm. I have recently presented to my class the anatomy of the head and shoulders. So this is what I drew while they drew. I have to stay out of their hair somehow. 
Most beginning figure drawers are terrified of hands, feet, and facial features. The only way to get over that is to draw hands, feet, and facial features early on. In knowing that practice is the route to skill, not having unrealistic expectations also makes the process less daunting. Practice for excellence, not perfection. Whatever the hell is perfection, anyway?
I always have the feeling that I am flying by the seat of my pants when I teach this course. It seems much more fluid in terms of levels of skill. I have to be prepared to revise my plans depending on skill levels and degree of progress. I find my figure students are much more skilled and, gratefully, much more dedicated than my basic drawing students. I think that is as it should be. Figure drawers/painters are usually more practiced and, as a natural consequence of that, more dedicated to developing their abilities. If someone has worked enough to have a certain degree of skill, it is evidence of an equal degree of dedication and work. Repetition is the key to learning. If a student does not have the determination to learn from a lot of failure, that student gives up in frustration. 
What I consider my favorite work is no more than 10% of my production. Another 20% might be acceptable for show. That means the remaining 70% is tucked away or culled in my annual clean out of work. (I have only so much space to store my stuff.) Some work is saved because it has a certain resonance for me in that it has a certain importance for my future work. It may never be shown but I save it as a document of my process.

February 28, 2013