Martin Lang: Against Life Drawing – November 2017

298px" />Advocating life drawing at art school is a deeply conservative and reactionary position. Arguments in

favour of life drawing usually fall into google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; one of two camps (or sometimes both). I am utterly /* xin-1 */ unconvinced
by
both.

The first, and weaker, argument

contends that it is necessary to learn the rules before you can break them. This is an authoritarian position where you must learn to draw “properly” before you

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can make other kinds of art. We can almost dismiss this argument out of hand. Imagine discovering a great artist,

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falling in love with her work, telling others how wonderful it /* 9-970x90 */ is, but then finding out

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that her life drawing wasn’t
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up to much. Would you re-assess your judgement and decide that the art you once loved must be substandard? You probably wouldn’t dismiss your favourite musician
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if you discovered that he couldn’t read music: this is irrelevant if the music is good. Perhaps cinema might be a better comparison, since artists also work in film. Most people wouldn’t rubbish their favourite director upon finding out that he couldn’t draw very well. So why would you apply this criterion to an artist film maker? In both cases it is irrelevant if

and even if she has no intention of making any kind of figurative
drawing, painting or //--> sculpture, there are still
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fundamental google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; benefits

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to studying life google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; drawing. These benefits include discipline (turning up on time, prepared with the necessary equipment), google_ad_height = 90; concentration (the ability to work on one thing for extended periods) and looking (training the eye). Proponents of this
argument contend that these skills are just as useful for making non-representational and deskilled practices, because they provide the student with a greater sense of aesthetic awareness and a robust work ethic.
But I have never
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once heard anyone who has made this argument call for the reintroduction of still life classes. Imagine bragging that your fine art degree programme obliges students to spend one day a week drawing fruit to enhance their concentration and observational
ability. Why not also teach

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geometry,

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a weekly, compulsory basis? You could do this, but you would have a deeply reactionary course that would churn
out conservative artists. Readers might note that this second argument is also an authoritarian one, since it assumes that all art students learn in the same way. Whatever the student’s learning style, background (religious google_ad_height = 90; sensibilities come to the fore here) and whatever their artistic aims, their training must be
grounded in observation of the nude human figure.

Another strand to the second argument

maintains that life drawing can be taught in an experimental manner to produce more cutting-edge artists. Examples include where life drawing concentrates on experiential drawing or experimentation with materials, methods and techniques (there are other examples). But this is no longer life drawing, for to teach these google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; things there is no need for a model. Terming it as such only reinforces the assumption that the underlying tradition of life drawing is something that must be preserved, even when it is irrelevant to the google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; tutor’s pedagogic aims and the student’s artistic ambitions.