broken up into 7 random posts.
(and not in numerical order)
4. Art school- the nude.
For some reason last week, out of the blue, I was thinking about art school, and figure drawing class. Freshman year, fresh out of high school, there we were, day after day drawing nude women and men. We had names and descriptions for the models. There was the greek god model, he was small of frame but perfectly formed. Pixie looked like a pixie. Hoagie girl, had green hair and smelled like a hoagie. Santa Claus freaked us out a bit, because you know we were drawing this old guy who looked just like santa, only completely naked. There was this african american woman who always had her period when she modeled, as in, we always saw the white string. There were plenty of others, but the time I remember most was the "sorta excited" guy. I went to an all girls college, so there we were a group of 17-18 year old girls (probably about 17-18 of us), drawing this male nude model, and for some reason the teacher kept wandering about out of the room. And the model's um....private part would suddenly rise to full attention, then go back down again. He was constantly giving into it, then fighting it, up and down, up and down, then a little up, and a little down.
Later the teacher commented on our unfinished drawings and we all snickered, (we had all been too busy watching him try to master his domain, to focus on our drawings), we tried to explain to our male teacher what had happened, but we used words like "he really seemed too into posing for us", which our teacher seemed to not understand as being a bad thing, and none of us were able/willing to articulate it better.
As the year went on we got repremanded as a group for not drawing all the parts, for having shady dark areas where genitalia where supposed to be. He said we did fine with breasts, and woman parts, but "where were the penises?", if it is there it should be in your drawing. We did try harder, we did more shadows that suggested form, but still we felt uncomfortable staring at one and representing it fully in our drawings, all of us except for one girl, who boldly and exuberantly took on the task. She made the penis her center piece, leaving the rest of the body behind, she drew giant page filling penises. This made our teacher very happy, and he held up her work and said, see you can do this too. But still we didn't. We were pleased that he was pleased, and she was pleased, but still we were pleased with our shadowy vague parts.
Over Christmas break we were to draw ourselves nude, life size. Different people of course approached this different ways. I can't recall them now, but you know there are plenty of ways to not show parts, and that is pretty much what happened with all of us. I spent hours on mine, drawing myself seated in a rocking chair. The picture was from the side, so the arm would hide my one breast, and the postion I chose hid the other. Anyway I worked on mine day after day, plenty of lines, plenty of detail. The teacher was not at all impressed saying "illustrative. Too illustrative!", and some other girl, Susan, who spent a half an hour on hers, fast drawn shadowy areas ( I don't even recall her's creating form other than black silhouette), oh how he loved her drawing. Which clearly shocked her, as she admitted to working quickly and just trying to get the project over with. I ran into her two years ago, and she didn't remember that critique, but I always will. I learned from that, it doesn't matter how much time you spend working on something, it only matters whether or not it sucks. And also it doesn't matter what you think of the work, your grade will reflect whether or not your teachers think the work sucks.
I still have a tendency toward line over form, but oil painting does help me break free a bit from this. Thank goodness, because when I switched over to oil painting (from water color with pen and ink) start of junior year, my teachers suddenly liked my work a lot more.
As Christmas approaches, I wonder if they still do that, send the girls off for Christmas break with that assignment? I'll have to ask Karen if all the classes had that assignment, or if just that one teacher gave it to his students? I think only he did, because I have a vague memory of asking her this question sophmore year, and of her reacting like "oh my God, what a perv!".