Life Drawing

When we imagine an art class, we often think of a life drawing session. North Bristol Artist Kathy Wyatt looks at why observational drawing is such an important skill.

Traditional Figure Drawing

Life drawing has been one of the most long-standing aspects of an artist’s training throughout history. Drawing directly from the model is seen primarily as a way to study anatomy, difference and the dispersion of weight, but also as a way of training observational skills, for movement of the human body can give detailed insight into the a wider world of movement and fluidity. Figure drawing classes, both tutored and untutored took (and still takes place) take place in Academies, University Art Schools, halls and rented spaces across our cities, during which students study and draw a live model that is traditionally nude or semi-clothed.

Models can be any age shape or size, the more diverse the better. Tempted? For more information click on the links below.

Life Drawing – Hamilton House

RWA Drawing School Bristol

Pencil drawing by Lloyd Lewis

‘First of all – learn to draw.

……it doesn’t matter if you never use your drawing skills, it means that you learn to see and you learn to focus. You learn to sharpen your visual judgement, to understand how to look and to understand what you see. Whether your work is conceptual or a typewritten piece – as artists we use that sense of visual judgement constantly’

Advice to artists from Tracy Emin

Contemporary Life Drawing

In comparison with traditional, contemporary figurative drawing today reaches far beyond the historical practise of drawing from life, nor is it limited by the materials of paper pencil and ink. Whilst the traditional grounding of anatomy study is unarguably beneficial, individuality expressed in style, method and surface is encouraged and valued, various creative exercises within a drawing session that actively encourage spontaneous creative responses have become increasingly popular.

For contemporary classes click on links below:

Purdie Life Drawing


‘Drawing is a frame of mind, a loving embrace of your will’ – Susan Avashi

‘Woman’ – Marian Webb

‘Warm Welcome’ – Julian Cox

‘Life 2’ – Nigel Humphreys Printmaking

Live Drawing

Live drawing differs from life drawing by involving shorter more dynamic poses and the clothed body, the focus being on the underlying energy, curves of movement, angles and tension points that make a pose sing. By experimenting with visual decisions made on the fly, the artist becomes more incisive in their painting, pared expressive brush work develops where every line has meaning,

The poses are short between 1 and 10 minutes in length enabling dynamic and extreme poses. Sessions are often themed and costume varies from elegant to the bizarre. Quite often it is these shorter poses that produce the freshest work, such freshness being the subtle element that makes a drawing really dance on the page.

Growing in popularity massively during the Covid lockdowns – online classes flourished as performers, dancers, models, and artists got together and live drawing online was born, uniting creatives worldwide in weekly two hour sessions of enjoyable intensity. It is to our great benefit that the value of these classes were recognised and enjoyed by so many, and so continue.

If you are interested in exploring such classes, please click on the links below :


Drawing Cabaret Couture

Drop Dead Gorgeous

‘Ami_with_an_eye’ by Kathy Wyatt

‘Childhood’ by Mandy Sutcliffe

DCC – ‘Less is More’ – Kathy Wyatt

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