Recommended Drawing Exercise - Life Drawing


Life Drawing is the act of drawing a male or female model, usually nude, while they’re physically posing in front of you, so not from a photo or memory.


Practically, Life Drawing will massively improve your drawing and seeing skills, but this exercise has the added gift of introducing you to other Artists, making for a totally unique social experience. Life Drawing will, over time, improve your ability to see and draw proportions, light, shadow and foreshortening, much more effective than drawing from photographs will.

It’s the best way to study the human form, having a nude model posing in front of you, I just cannot express how valuable this is. Most Life Drawing classes will start with quick poses, before moving onto a long pose. These quick poses are the perfect opportunity to put into practice all the skills you’ve learnt from your hours of Gesture Drawing :)

Unlike Sketching People in Public, you’re not going to get any evil looks if the ‘model’ notices you drawing them either :) So you’ll be practising various drawing skills in a totally safe environment, surrounded by supportive Artists. Most other drawing exercises are done in private, with multiple hours spent with no one but yourself for company, in fact, the majority of art is carried out this way, making Life Drawing one of the most unique drawing exercises you can do.


The images below some of my sketches and drawings from Life Drawing Class. You can find more in My Sketchbook section


You will need to locate a Life Drawing Class near you. This is easier said than done sometimes, however, if you have the desire, you will find one. If you can’t find any online, I recommend going to your local Art shop to see if they have any adverts in the window, or know of any classes near by. Along with art shops, your local Art college is also a good place to start your search for a Life Drawing class.

With a class located, let the fun begin :) I was scared at first, but there is nothing to be afraid of, only tons of things to be excited for. You may be interested in a blog post I wrote, where I answered the question, Isn’t it uncomfortable drawing a nude model?

Tables and Easels are normally provided, all you need to bring along is your paper and drawing / painting equipment. The tables are usually set out in a C shape, with the model in the centre. Sessions can be with our without a tutor. The Art Club I’m a member of for instance, will sometimes have Ian Barlow tutor us, I personally love these sessions, but both have their benefits.

I always find it worthwhile to study the model for the first minute or so, before placing any lines. I normally look for the area, shape or line I find most interesting, and than start my sketch from there.

That’s it really, you just draw what you see while the model poses for you. We usually get ten minutes at the end to view each others work, which is one of my favourite parts of class. It’s fascinating seeing how everyone captures the model so differently.


So much! What makes this drawing exercise totally unique from all my other recommended drawing exercises, is that this one is done at an art class, with other artists. This makes for a highly fun, inspiring and rewarding experience. Being lucky enough to have a model pose for you is one thing, the act of getting lost in the drawing another, but being surrounded by other artists, all wanting to help each other grow. Beautiful!


If I hadn’t started life drawing, I would never have got the opportunity to enter my art into various exhibitions, join the Plymouth Hoe Art Fair or join a Gallery. Life Drawing has changed my life. It isn’t just about drawing, it’s about being around other artists and all growing together :)


– Thomas Merton