In extolling the many virtues of the singularly outstanding Meltdown Comics to a coworker who recently moved from Indiana and shares my enthusiasm for comic books, I discovered they have a regularly scheduled life drawing class. The class, called "Drawmelt" (drawing at meltdown comics...get it?) is offered every Monday from 7PM to 10PM. They bill it as "extreme cosplay life drawing" which immediately got my attention. How do you define extreme cosplay? Do they dress up as JRPG characters then hop on a skateboard and throw bitchin' tricks on a half-pipe?
As it turns out? No. They don't. The event is extremely chill with a model doing poses that range from five minutes up to twenty minutes. In most life drawing classes the models are nude. This is to help the artists learn anatomy and the contours of the body. That's great, but most of us who don't live in a nudist colony or who care about municipal codes against indecent exposure wear clothes. This is true in most actual illustration jobs, too, unless you're lucky (unlucky?) enough to have spent your entire education drawing nudes, and end up in a career illustrating sex manuals.
What I was really looking for was the opportunity to draw figures from live models, but I'm also keenly aware that I need a lot of practice in drawing fabric and how it drapes over the body. We've all seen illustrations or sculpture of a nude model with a sheet draped casually over a shoulder, brazenly exposing one plump breast. That's great...but who in the hell goes grocery shopping less than half dressed in a goddamn sheet? Traditional life drawing is great, but it helps if you can draw people wearing actual clothes from time to time, too.
I've been to two Drawmelt events, and both were great experiences that have already had an impact on my abilities as an illustrator (I'm really reluctant to apply the label "artist" to what I do). At the most recent event the model was dressed in what I'm calling a modern take on Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Below are a number of my drawings from the evening.
If you are an artist or illustrator living in the L.A. area I recommend checking it out.
The first drawings of the evening are fairly rough, as the model only holds these poses for five minutes. It's kind of like the artist's version of stretching before a workout.
After that the poses are held for ten minutes which is like a balance between a warm up and the actual workout. It's like calisthenics for your drawing muscles. The first of these is may favorite from the evening. Though it has to be said that even my favorite drawing of the evening does not do the lovely model justice. She had the most amazing and expressive eyes, and she seemed to be telling a story with each pose.
After that the poses are held for fifteen minutes. This is where you can really spend some time on details, playing with style, maybe doing a quick gesture drawing as practice before doing a more complete drawing. This is where the workout really starts.
The last couple of poses are held for twenty minutes. By this time I've been drawing for a while so I'm in a funny place where my hand is starting to get sore, but my drawing muscles are loose.