Townsville locals are increasingly keen to sit without their ‘kit’ in the name of art.
Life Drawing Townsville meets regularly to give artists a chance to hone their skills drawing live models. And, yes, the models are naked.
Local Artist and Life Drawing Townsville organiser Gerald Soworka explains that while you can never separate sensuality from the human form, life drawing itself is not at all sexual.
“The nude is great because you can see what’s there in front of you and you can understand it,” says Gerald.
“Clothing changes the shape of the body and clothing is really interesting, but you’ve also got to understand what’s going on underneath it.”
Gerald insists that the only people apprehensive about the inherent nudity, are those who have never tried life drawing.
“Once they’ve had some sort of experience of it, all those puritanical things seem to fade into the background.
”You’re involved in where a line goes. You’re not sitting there ogling a naked person.”
From Dental school to drawing tools
Gerald found art when a significant injury rendered him bedridden.
“Prior to getting into art, I worked with body-oriented psychotherapy,” says Gerld.
“Originally I’d studied dentistry at uni, and I did a lot of anatomy and physiology from a straight medical perspective. Then when I was doing bodywork, I did anatomy and physiology again but from a hands-on perspective.
“But I also then had to learn anatomy and physiology from life drawing from a visual arts perspective, which is very different. That’s what led me directly into life drawing; when I was first laid up in bed and had to stop working.”
Celebrating all body types
The term ‘model’ carries refreshingly diverse connotations in life drawing circles.
“In other areas of our society, everyone’s trying to look exactly the same, which is incredibly boring,” Gerald says.
“We’ve got to lose weight, make up your face or hide all the blemishes.
“In Townsville, in the last couple of years, we’ve had so many people want to model. So it’s much easier to get that diverse range. We have everything from typical model looks, too old, overweight and really super skinny.
“The ones that appeal to me most are the bodies that are lived in and have got a history and some character.”
“I really like that contrast – every sort of body. The ones that appeal to me most are the bodies that are lived in and have got a history and some character. It makes it much more interesting to draw.
“It’s starting to tell the story as well. It’s not just an anonymous person. It’s a person who has history, feelings, emotions and stories.”
The challenge of drawing live models
Artists have used life drawing methods for centuries. Gerald explains that you can get much more information from a live, 3D subject. The ability to move around the subject gives extra info to the artist but the challenge lies in the artists’ ability to replicate it.
“It’s a manual skill,” says Gerald, “but the real skill is actually seeing accurately.
“Something goes wrong between seeing what’s in front of you and it coming out of your hand. And that’s because our brain gets in the way. Every eye, every mouth is different. And the same mouth is different when you change the angle on it.
“Drawing with live models gives it much more credibility because it was always the way that people learn to draw traditionally.”
Life Drawing Townsville is welcoming to all levels of artists. They have weekly sketch club sessions, monthly portrait study and a collaboration with VaVoom Room practicing burlesque sketching.
Gerald reassures any potential life drawers: “Although it can be quite exhausting, trying to draw exactly what’s in front of you, it’s also very relaxing.”
See Life Drawing Townsville’s Facebook Page for upcoming events.