Visual Arts Planning: Drawing from a Live Model

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We have collected together a selection of fun resources on drawing the figure that we hope will inspire students to tackle this challenging subject.  The activities encourage pupils to draw from live poses by their classmates (and a dog!) and to consider how they would draw both a still and moving figure.  They also have an opportunity to express what it feels like to be inside their own bodies, through wire drawings/sculptures.  Finally, we include a link to a series of projects by artist Hester Berry that discuss ways to approach life drawing from the model.

Please feel free to add links to other resources, or share your experiences and ideas, via the comments box below.

Life Drawing for children (and acting up a bit!)

A playful and active session suitable for all ages. Children select their own props and take it in turns to model and draw. In a warm-up exercise, they explore what it feels like to be in their own body and then, using a selection of media, they enjoy trying to capture the spirit of the different poses of their classmates. A playful and active session suitable for all ages. Children select their own props and take it in turns to model and draw. In a warm-up exercise, they explore what it feels like to be in their own body and then, using a selection of media, they enjoy trying to capture the spirit of the different poses of their classmates.

Drawing from life with children and making cartoon characters

An exciting resource using life drawings to create cartoon characters, that can be adapted for all ages. Young children choose dressing up clothes and then model for each other in brief, energetic poses that challenge the observational, drawing and mark making skills of the class. The life drawings are then developed using the children's imagination into cartoon characters. An exciting resource using life drawings to create cartoon characters, that can be adapted for all ages. Young children choose dressing up clothes and then model for each other in brief, energetic poses that challenge the observational, drawing and mark making skills of the class. The life drawings are then developed using the children’s imagination into cartoon characters.

Quentin Blake’s Drawings as Inspiration!

Taking Quentin Blake’s drawings as a starting point for three simple exercises, children draw from life and explore how they might use exaggeration as a tool to help them convey the intention of their drawing. During the session, the children are encouraged to take risks and try new ways of working. Taking Quentin Blake’s drawings as a starting point for three simple exercises, children draw from life and explore how they might use exaggeration as a tool to help them convey the intention of their drawing. During the session, the children are encouraged to take risks and try new ways of working.

Life Drawing Inspired by “Where the Wild Things Are”

This resource forms part of a series which enable primary-aged children to explore drawing and making inspired by Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are”. See all the resources in this series here. In previous sessions we worked from our imagination to draw a fictitious landscape. In this session (the 4th in the series), the children use their observational skills to draw from life, with the twist that they are allowed to transform what they see into their own “wild thing”! This resource forms part of a series which enable primary-aged children to explore drawing and making inspired by Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are”. See all the resources in this series here. In previous sessions we worked from our imagination to draw a fictitious landscape. In this session (the 4th in the series), the children use their observational skills to draw from life, with the twist that they are allowed to transform what they see into their own “wild thing”!

Introducing drawing from life – teenagers drawing mini-actions

A relaxed session to introduce students to the first steps of drawing from life in a series of short exercises or 'studies'. Teenagers work in pairs, drawing each other and to take away any inhibitions, a random selection of props is introduced: a mobile phone, I-touch, a book and a box of raisins to nibble on! A relaxed session to introduce students to the first steps of drawing from life in a series of short exercises or ‘studies’. Teenagers work in pairs, drawing each other and to take away any inhibitions, a random selection of props is introduced: a mobile phone, I-touch, a book and a box of raisins to nibble on!

life drawing – getting it right

A resource to help students practice their life drawing skills: one quick, five line drawing to get students looking and filling the whole sheet and a longer life study, where students are encouraged to add and cover ‘wrong’ lines with white paper and let their drawings ‘grow’. A resource to help students practice their life drawing skills: one quick, five line drawing to get students looking and filling the whole sheet and a longer life study, where students are encouraged to add and cover ‘wrong’ lines with white paper and let their drawings ‘grow’.

Introducing how to measure proportions in life drawing

A workshop that explains the ‘Sighting Method’ to enable students to draw in proportion from a live model. Teenagers are shown how to use their pencils to measure and plot the figure onto the paper in proportion, and to use verticals and horizontals to estimate the angles of the figure’s pose. A workshop that explains the ‘Sighting Method’ to enable students to draw in proportion from a live model. Teenagers are shown how to use their pencils to measure and plot the figure onto the paper in proportion, and to use verticals and horizontals to estimate the angles of the figure’s pose.

teenagers draw a dog

Teenagers are challenged to draw a live subject that keeps moving! They are encouraged to make large drawings using a variety of variety of media and to experiment with mark making and gesture. They learn to adopt a flexible approach to their drawings, as the dog continues to change his position. Teenagers are challenged to draw a live subject that keeps moving! They are encouraged to make large drawings using a variety of variety of media and to experiment with mark making and gesture. They learn to adopt a flexible approach to their drawings, as the dog continues to change his position.

Sketchbooks: Drawing someone drawing something

This exciting project explores the idea that sketchbooks can be used as a tool to generate sketches and gather visual ideas for later use. Teenagers take it in turns ‘drawing someone drawing something,’ making a series of quick observations from the environment around them and then use the information gathered to make a series of collages. This exciting project explores the idea that sketchbooks can be used as a tool to generate sketches and gather visual ideas for later use. Teenagers take it in turns ‘drawing someone drawing something,’ making a series of quick observations from the environment around them and then use the information gathered to make a series of collages.

drawing with wire

A creative session that encourages students not to concentrate on how their bodies look, but to visualise how they feel and to try and find a way of expressing that experience with wire drawings/sculptures. This exercise is about finding a way to represent physical sensations using form. A creative session that encourages students not to concentrate on how their bodies look, but to visualise how they feel and to try and find a way of expressing that experience with wire drawings/sculptures. This exercise is about finding a way to represent physical sensations using form.

inspired by Henri Matisse – repetitive life drawing exercise

This workshop encourages students to challenge pre-conceived ideas of what a drawing should be or what finished drawings should look like. By making drawings of each other they can experiment with line and expression, inspired by the working practice of Henri Marisse, who often drew an object or life pose many times in succession. This workshop encourages students to challenge pre-conceived ideas of what a drawing should be or what finished drawings should look like. By making drawings of each other they can experiment with line and expression, inspired by the working practice of Henri Marisse, who often drew an object or life pose many times in succession.

drawing from a life model by hester berry

Hester Berry, an experienced life drawing tutor and artist, has created a set of inspirational resources to help students get to grips with this very rewarding activity. Hester Berry, an experienced life drawing tutor and artist, has created a set of inspirational resources to help students get to grips with this very rewarding activity.