BACKGROUND TO LIFE DRAWING
Since the beginnings of Western art there’s been a powerful fascination with depictions of the human figure. These works have served the purposes of myth, religious or political allegory, titillation, and science. But for many centuries there have been two especially durable elements in the rendering of the human form: the appreciation of the body as an object of beauty in and of itself, and the appreciation of drawings of the nude as artworks having meaning, beauty and value independent of the particular body depicted. The practice of figure drawing is generally considered the most fundamental study in visual arts.
Every human body has a principle of growth which formed it, including genetic and environmental factors. In this sense it’s like a tree, a canyon, a cloud. Getting the ‘sense’ of this organic development is one of the main goals in the practice of life drawing. The constant and inevitable transformations of our world suggest that in all moments of our lives we are gazing on things which will never reappear in exactly the same form. The act of drawing reminds us of the transience of all phenomena, of the passage of time, of mortality, of loss, metamorphosis, resurgence. Drawing reminds us to pay attention, to appreciate these unique moments, lines, forms, and phenomena of light while we may.
There’s a pronounced sensuality in drawing -- not necessarily in any particular subject matter, but in the pure pleasure of the eyes, transmitting through the mind and muscles to the sensitive, pleasurable life of the mark. There are poignant reminders of this sensuality in certain subjects: nudes, landscapes, interior or other atmospheres charged with light. Yet somehow one’s attention always returns to drawing itself. In this context, “drawing” does not mean a manufacturing activity, the production of ‘drawings’ that can be framed and sold. It means a practice by which the entire process, from eyeballs to mark, is exercised, strengthened, made straighter and more direct, more supple and responsive. Basically it’s a training to see, to be receptive and alive. This is the sensibility that the Mendocino Figure Drawing Collective seeks to nurture.