Live Drawing in Modern Art Oxford

This afternoon, I attended a live drawing session in Modern Art Oxford, and the workshop was led by a previous Oxford Brookes foundation student, Mirren Kessling. Mirren is a fine artist, and recently completed her BFA course at Ruskin School of Art.

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The drawing event had a small group of about 15 people, and we sat in the gallery’s outdoor cafe to sketch, beginning with quick, 1-2 minute drawings using circles to warm up. At this stage, we only drew parts of the model’s body, like the upper half, or just their hands. We constantly changed our mediums, from charcoal to fine liner pens.

Afterwards, Mirren draped a translucent, organza fabric over the two models, which meant they now had an “ethereal” presence, as the light fabric gave an elegance to their bodies, like how it wraps around the contours of the body, and how subtle, soft shapes are formed in the fabric as it is crumpled. I created a sustained, 10 minute continuous line drawing, and captured the fabric in light blue pencil, thus experimenting with overlapping mediums. This is probably successful because the soft pencil contrasts the harsh pen lines, distinguishing the actual human body, and the thin fabric which drapes over it.

To add to the ethereal, ghostly effect with the fabric, we shaded in the negative spaces around the two models, which meant their bodies were just blocks of white shapes. Then, Mirren instructed us to draw only their clothing, because she believed that the person would still be recognizable in this way.

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(Left: Hannah’s sketch, Right: My sketch)

The final drawing was a collaborative one, and the most intense. The two models stood with a distance between them, and we had to draw them as they took a step closer towards each other. On a long sheet of paper spread along the tables, the left-hand side sketched the male model, the right-hand side sketched the female, and in the center, they eventually met. I found it difficult to get my proportions correct with moving models, so mine came out too large. However, I did significantly improve on mark-making, as my drawings had very textured, expressive lines within a minute.

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Overall, I really enjoyed Mirren’s workshop, and whilst talking to her, I was intrigued in how her strong interest in fashion and textiles merges with her work as a contemporary fine artist. By knowing this, I wonder if I would have a similar approach, or whether I am a designer instead.

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