The only thing I see is the nude model posing behind my drawing easel and the image I’ve built up on an 18” by 24” sheet of rough newsprint. The distant sound of baroque and classical music from my instructor’s loudspeaker radio hums with a harmonious tune that accompanies the scratching of charcoal sticks and pencils, grinding and marking; each click and scratch fills the silent and unbroken atmosphere. Charcoal powder fills the air with it’s musty aroma as I drift off into my artistic state of bliss.
The eight weeks are over. Every Saturday up until now, I commuted downtown to study figure drawing at the Academy of Arts University. They were eight of the greatest Saturdays I’ve ever spent, each one consisting of four hours of pure and undisturbed drawing in a large and spacious room. A paid professional model who works for the Academy would show up to each one of our classes to do long poses for the class.The class itself was small, about five or six students including myself. This allowed my fabulous teacher to zip between us and help with our individual struggles related to drawing the human figure; this included everything from basic construction sketches to elaborate head studies.
Over the eight week class, I produced a substantial amount of work, usually one to two pieces per session. My improvement over the course of the experience is so significant that it’s almost exponential, in my opinion. I will refrain from adding further commentary to my gallery of human studies. Just keep in mind that some of these are quite incomplete due to time restraints. It’s only a four hour class, after all. The only one that I must mention is the semi-portrait of Scarlett Johansson. I did that one after the sixth week, during Spring Break, when we all took a week off. My teacher really loved that one and almost wanted to use it for my final exhibition. Ultimately, we decided to use one of the studies that I did in class, but the Johansson one is still my favorite.
Week 3 Value Studies
Week 5 Head Studies
Spring Break (between weeks 6 and 7)
Illustrations and text by Stephan Xie