Week one consisted of meeting my advisor and future professors at the China Academy of Art Hangzhou, China. This was the start of the first week out of the future 3 years I will be studying here. In the picture above you can see my advisor Professor Zhou Gang on the left, and my current professor Yu Zhenping to the right of my advisor. During my 3 years here I will be studying water-based materials and painting.
Undergraduate and graduate students gathered around on the first day of school to get to know each other and our future teachers introduced themselves to us as well. This is also what a typical classroom at our school looks like.
First 4 weeks of class were led by our advisor and our class was nude figure drawing with charcoal (The above is a picture of our advisor showing us what the undergraduates were working on and also helping them fix a few errors). For me it was a challenging class because I have not done nude figure drawing since I was in highschool. My mom had taken me to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design a few times for their evening open figure drawing sessions, but I had never actually taken a nude figuring drawing class before. On top of that I had never just used charcoal to draw before, so it was a totally foreign and new experience for me. The first week was really difficult. From Monday to Friday morning we drew for 3 hours with 2, 15 minute breaks. This class lasted 4 weeks total, 2 weeks with male models and 2 weeks with female models. Each pose was held for 5 days. I had quite a lot of difficulties getting used to the materials I was using and also finding the correct form and structure of the body. You can see this in the picture below after day 2.
After 2 days of drawing I felt a little frustrated and compared myself to my other classmates who seemed to be so much more talented than myself. Instead of giving up on just the second day though, I decided to do some smaller sketches, trying to find the correct form and practice drawing the human body some more.
This is a book I would recommend to anyone looking to study more about how to draw the human body. After feeling quite frustrated after days of drawing, I went to the library to check out some books about drawing the human body. I used some of these books to draw small practice sketches.
This was the final master piece after 5 days of working on it. To be honest I still felt very frustrated even just looking at it, but I was really excited for the week to come because that meant I could start over with a new pose and a blank piece of white paper!
This was the second charcoal drawing I did for this course. I felt a lot better practicing and sketching after the first week. Finding the form started to become easier and I could spend more time on shading and the background as well.
Before my professors advice (Picture above)
After my professors advice (Picture below)
After my professors suggestions I decided to lengthen the couch in the background a little bit and also work on the elongating the form on the figure that is standing. After the second week I was already feeling like I had made huge progress from week 1 to week 2
Week 3 we switched from male models to female models. After working on this piece for about an hour, my professor came into our classroom and suggested I erase and start again because the position of the model wasn't quite right. Instead of erasing it with an eraser, he suggested I erase it with my hand to give the drawing more texture and to show the change of the models posture over time.
Day two of this week I worked on finding the correct positioning of the models form and the model in the background as well.
Day 3 and 4 I worked on the highlights and shadows as well as adding some details to their features.
The last day I worked on adding more shadows, but unfortunately I did not get to finish this piece. Although I did not get to finish, again I started to see a hugh improvement from week one till now.
A small break is needed every once in awhile. I took a 10 minute break from the bigger piece I was working on above to draw a simple sketch of one of the models faces.
Week 4 consisted of listening to various lectures from our professor, so this piece was done in one day. My professor came in after about an hour of painting and had me erase and start again. I actually am really thankful he did, because I really like the effect it gave this piece. Even though this was a quicker piece, it's actually one of my favorites from this four week course. I felt 100 times better about the form and also had a lot of fun focusing on shading the stomach and the roughness in the lines of this drawing.
In a blink of an eye, our first four weeks of the semester were over. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to nude figure drawing and using charcoal as a material, but I think I made quite a lot of progress in just four weeks. I look forward to sharing more with you about my progress, the good, the bad, and the ugly, but art is all about the process and that's why it is so much fun, and at the same time very rewarding as well. Until next time.