Life drawing: Ten-minute pose

Life Drawing Or The First Time Is Always the Hardest

You know when you take a car trip somewhere for the first time – say to a new friend’s house – and then the return trip always seems to take so much less time? That’s because in the first journey, everything is unfamiliar. We don’t know where we’re going, how to recognize the landmarks or signposts, what to do when we get there, we’re unsure of what the parking arrangements are like, who will be there, and what may be expected of us. Once we take the first step and do it once, ever after it’s easier. This is the same for doing anything new including going to a life drawing session.

I moved from Salt Spring Island to Victoria a few years ago. Whenever I’m back on the island on a Monday, I make sure to take in the life drawing session. I know where it is, I know some of the people who will turn up, I know where to park, what to take, and how much it is. No worries.

There are a number of life drawing sessions in Victoria but I until yesterday, I hadn’t been to any. Why? Because of the unfamiliarity. Because it’s not in my routine. Yet I know just going the first time will make later visits more a matter of getting off my butt than the anxiety of the unknown.

It’s a brand new year and I want to get back to attending life drawing regularly – even once a month. Why? Because life drawing is probably the best way to improve and maintain your drawing skills.

I thought I’d share me attempts from last night. I felt so rusty. There’s so much to think about when you’re drawing the figure – proportion, perspective, gesture, character, weight, volume.

It’s intense work drawing a model from life and I was exhausted! I was also exhilarated!!


life drawing - One-minute poses
One-minute poses, pen and ink


Life drawing: Two-minute poses
Two-minute poses, pen and ink


Life drawing: Five-minute poses
Five-minute poses, conté


Life drawing: Ten-minute pose
Ten-minute pose, black pastel


Life drawing: 15-minute poses
15-minute poses, black chalk, conté


Life drawing: 18-minute pose
18-minute pose, from a small set of Unison pastels on Canson Mi-Teintes paper (spiral bound book with glassine sheets between paper). Eek, I used the official correct side but oh my, waaaaaay too much texture. Next time, turn it over! By now, pretty tired…


Life drawing: 18-minute pose
18-minute pose, watersoluble coloured pencils (but no water applied)


I now have even more respect and awe for Duane Wakeham’s life drawings. Read his guest blog filled with beautiful work if you haven’t done so. I will be sure to study them and be inspired before the next life drawing session.


I was going to skip the blog this week due to the big project I’m working on. However, since I overcame my resistance to going to a local life drawing session and experienced how good that felt, I thought it was worthy of a quick blog of encoragement. If you’ve been pondering going to a life drawing session, put it off no longer! Get thee to the location this week and feel sooooo good.


Are you a regular at life drawing sessions? And if so, why do you keep going? I’d LOVE to hear from you!


Next week, look out for this month’s guest blogger. I’m so excited!!


Until then,

~ Gail

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9 thoughts on “Life Drawing Or The First Time Is Always the Hardest”

  1. I started life drawing sessions a year ago, my very first ever and felt flooded with this completely new practice. I look forward to our almost weekly sessions and am so pleased when something turns out! I think my powers of observation are improving too! I am also so humbled by the talented artists surrounding me.

  2. Gail…I wanted to take a moment to thank you for this site and all that you do in the name of pastel! I love your paintings and your blogs…I look forward to each new edition!

    1. Lauraine, thank you for your very kind comment both about my blog and my work. It’s words like yours that keep me writing, looking, researching, and posting!

  3. I love figure drawing! I moved to a very small town late last year, so if I want to draw from life I’ll have to come up with a plan on my own. I’ve thought about sitting in on dance classes and getting other like mindd artists to take turns posing for portrait practice. Anyone else have any ideas?

    1. Marie, it’s always so disappointing when there is no figure drawing sessions available. Perhaps you can put out an ad on something like your local Craigslist, both for models and for like-minded artists. You may be surprised!

    2. Marie, I live in a small town (1800) with an active art centre but no life drawing. It took a number of us to pull together and commit to meeting regularly. I jumped at the opportunity as it was something I have always wanted to do. There are only 5-10 people but that pays a model and the facility. There may be others in your area who are also interested.

  4. Dear Gail,

    Every thursday morning I have life drawing lessons and it is so inspiring. You learn every lesson an other thing of the body and to look so good where are the shadows etc. I do it for more than 10 years and I hope my teacher stays an other year, but he is now 83 years old, so I think this is the last year.
    I hope you will forgive the mistakes in my English.
    Regards, Gerda

    1. Gerda how wonderful to take classes in life drawing. The figure offers endless learning possibilities that’s for sure. Wow – 10 years – that’s great. And how lovely to have the same teacher. He must be pretty special for you to have stuck with him so long. Please give him a big smile and thumbs up for me!

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Gail Sibley

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My love of pastel and the enjoyment I receive from teaching about pastel inspired the creation of this blog. It has tips, reviews, some opinions:), and all manner of information regarding their use through the years – old and new. Please enjoy!

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