This week I caught up with a very good friend whom I haven’t spoken to in a while. We’ve shared a good part of our lives together and she is very special to me. As of late one of our favorite topics of conversation is our mutual love of art.
She mentioned how excited she is that she’s going to be taking a figure drawing class. As she spoke, all of my memories flooded back to that moment in my life when I changed it forever. This was unquestionably one of my favorite studio classes when I decided to go back to school to become a working artist and teacher over ten years ago.
I remember walking into the class for the first time; that uncomfortable second when I first saw a real human standing there in the nude. I recall trying to be very mature but secretly giggling in my head like a child. I remember the smell of charcoal, and working hours on end to capture texture, light (value) and of course, the human form.
Each week I’d go back to class with more comfort and confidence as I honed in on my skills and creativity. When I came home each evening, I’d blow my nose to find black charcoal coming out from the hours of work.
I drew many different models: some old, some young, some heavy and some thin. I came to appreciate and embrace them for all of their unique beauty. It wasn’t until then that I also came to appreciate my own figure for all of its flawed elegance. What I once was embarrassed and uncertain about seemed wonderfully different and attractive.
When it comes to our bodies we tend to judge ourselves (and others) so harshly. We are raised that it is shameful to show them and then we wonder why so many of us are uncomfortable with intimacy and sex. After taking my figure drawing class I walked away with a much deeper understanding of the human condition and a beautiful confidence in myself. Art has taught me so much about life, but from this particular class I learned how to be comfortable in my own skin.
Am I suggesting that everyone should take a nude figure drawing class to appreciate their own bodies and perhaps to be less judgmental of others? Well, maybe I am!
Stories about how art inspires and changes us.