My sisiter in California sent me this interesting article. Have any of
you read it before?
By GRAHAM HEATHCOTE
c The Associated Press
LONDON - Attention-getting young British artists like Tracey Emin, who
exhibited her unmade bed, and Damien Hirst, who pickles dead animals,
have done fine without studying how to draw the human figure.
But members of an older generation of artists, such as David Hockney,
Hambling and Peter Blake, insist the centuries-old life drawing
crucial for any artist.
The Royal Academy of Arts, which has taught drawing since its founding
1768, contends the exercise can play a powerful part in the development
young people's creativity.
For the past 11 years, the academy's Outreach Program has taught drawing
taking live models to some 40,000 children in British schools, from
in the north to the Channel Islands in the south.
''I love children's drawings and I have many in my hall at home,'' said
Phillip King, a sculptor recently elected the academy's president.
is an opportunity for the young to enrich the quality of their lives.''
The program sends men and women models to schools for a day to pose
many as 30 students form a circle around the models in a large open
work on the floor with charcoal and large sheets of paper, drawing what
The workshops are led by artist-graduates from the Royal Academy schools
the models have been through dance and drama training to be able to give
their poses a forceful quality. The models don't remain in one position
hours, but take up several poses to communicate the dynamics of the
''Big spaces and large sheets encourage children to be more aggressive
drawing. Charcoal is more physical than pencil. It gets the hands dirty
makes an immediate impression. It's very flexible and very forgiving,''
Jo Butler, an artist who works in the program.
The academy recently displayed at its Piccadilly building in central
more than 150 children's drawings from Outreach in a show called
One of the exhibitors, 11-year-old James Zhao from Dagenham in east
said life drawing isn't easy.
''I've drawn my father at home, but drawing the woman model was a bit
difficult - especially the arm and the leg, the fingers and the shape of
hand. I liked discovering how to do it. I like drawing as a hobby,'' he
The show took its title from a remark by a child at a workshop:
''I felt challenged to produce an 'alive' drawing rather than a life
''That expressed what Outreach is fundamentally about,'' said Peter
former student at the academy schools and a founder-member of the
Lorna Smith, the model drawn by Zhao and his classmates, said a key
of the program is to encourage youngsters to think about what they see
how they draw it, asking questions like, 'Is this what I see?' and 'Are
different ways of seeing?'
''The development of curiosity is an essential part of education, since
benefits all areas of human activity and helps prepare the young for an
independent life,'' Smith said.
''The mind has to invent, take risks, consider alternatives and be
to learn from failure along the way. Life drawing is a learning
''Children are shocked at first to see a nude model but the embarrassing
giggles soon die down - in seconds - and the accepting nature of a group
quite astonishingly quick. By lunchtime you would think they had been
the nude for most of their lives,'' she said.
Recognition of the program's value of the program is indicated in the
of its sponsors - in turn, an oil company, a bank and a Japanese health
It was John Ruskin, the most influential art critic of Victorian times
himself highly skilled in drawing, who said that when once we see keenly
enough, there's very little difference in drawing what we see.
This year is the centennial of Ruskin's death and he is very much back
fashion, with exhibitions and lectures about him in Britain and the
The academy show coincided with the launch of ''Drawing Power,'' a
campaign for drawing by the Guild of St. George, founded by Ruskin to
his ideas. It seeks to get everyone interested in learning how to draw -
''We know from ancient art in caves that man has been drawing ever since
came to Europe and we want to see drawing more valued in education. We
to see everyone leaving school being able to draw and knowing the
said Julian Spalding, the guild's master.
On Oct. 21, more than 500 galleries and museums in Britain will sponsor
drop-in sessions for adults and children to draw with artists,
mathematicians and campaign patrons. The sessions will be supported with
displays of fine art, and technical and scientific drawings from local
''In the multicolored digital age, drawing with pencil, chalk or ink is
easily neglected,'' says a campaign statement. ''Artists, architects,
scientists, designers and teachers recognize that the most original
often generated through the direct action of the hand, from thumbnail
sketches to final visions.''