I’ve done life drawing a couple of times before. Whenever I’ve had a go, the teacher has been insistent that the important part is to really let go of your preconceptions about what you’re trying to draw, and to do so abstractly. The aim is to capture the ‘life’ in front of you, rather than naturalistically copy what you happen to see.

This might explain why, whenever you see someone’s work that is the result of a life drawing class, it never looks very much like a naked person. And yet, and yet… I feel that there’s something really true in the later images, where I’ve freed myself from trying (badly) to accurately represent.

The teacher encouraged us to do lots of playful things. Drawing with our non-dominant hands. Drawing with both hands at once. Drawing without looking at the ‘canvas’. Smudging the work and then doing the next one directly on top of it. The more I broke the censor that said ‘can’t’, ‘shouldn’t’, ‘won’t’, the freer I felt to approach the task, until by the end I was flinging charcoal at the paper in brash, aggressive, ridiculous strokes.

I found this completely absorbing, and really freeing. Play at its best!

All art is but dirtying the paper delicately. ― John Ruskin, The Elements of Drawing

Ease of play: 3/10 (this was hard work!)

Resemblance to play: 7/10 (is it marked down for producing output?)

Aggression: Medium-to-High (by the end)

Speed: Slow-to-Medium

Enjoyability: Medium-to-High

Potential frequency of play: Medium

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