Live model drawing course – plaster models (part 1)

I am participating first time to Adult Education center (kansalaisopisto) organized course. A live model drawing course for beginners using traditional art education techniques. Course overview:

  • The course starts with drawing plaster models and in the end of the course with live model
  • Studying is based on supervised work and completing assigned tasks
  • The aim is to take into account the light intensities, i.e. understanding the basics of image construction
  • Tasks are executed in monochrome

In the first post I concentrate on the plaster drawing from observation as the first half of the course was spent in drawing the plaster models (this week is holiday week and then ‘part 2’, live model drawing starts). We have lessons once a week for a few hours.

I seem to have forgotten (or never known) all the basic rules on charcoal drawing and I was a bit clueless what I can or cannot do as a newbie. Thus I ended up redoing my work quite a bit due to different errors, but that was ok. I went to learn the basics under strict guidance and there was no rush or pressure to get stuff finished or be good in anyway 🙂


We were first allowed to draw only the basic form using lines. Lines! Just when I’ve learned not to think everything through lines and instead as forms created with values 😀

So back to square one, no shading what so ever but only straight or curvy lines to form the object silhouette. Only some necessary lines within the form were ok and temporary guidelines when measuring.

The lines were instructed to be created by pulling the stick, not pushing, which posed bit of challenges in some directions (either turn wrist or start from empty towards the earlier line).

Once the line drawing was approved I was allowed to shade.

The torso I first started with did not get finished, so I did not get to start with cross hatching. (I missed one session due to work trip, so I just started a new one in third lesson)


Shading. Shading as in -> cross-hatching. I do not recall did I cross-hatch earlier in charcoal drawing lessons, no? Was there such instructions as well? Do not recall. So first cross-hatching in my mind reminded me mainly of cartoon shading.

No blended shading or rendering or even contouring the cross-hatching was allowed, just straight sharp lines and layer by layer starting to hatch to slightly different direction. Not straight to 90 degrees (e.g. first horizontal, then vertical), but instead around 45 degrees. Point was that the hatching alone, without any contouring, should create the form and values. I had to rewire brain again and ended up redoing hatching a few times (not sharp/narrow enough line or starting to smudge and blend).

Cross hatching can create a more lively texture and forms than a plain uniform shading. It can also be used not only in drawing but painting with layering different colors but I have not seen this being used in water color painting. Instead there can be used (uniform) washes of different colors so the first layer color glows through the second transparent wash. Of course lines can be created in any form of painting, but most often I have come across cross-hatching in drawing.

Quick example on bright yellow was shining through and hatching trial with watercolor (and my greasy finger prints on the old scrap paper). Perhaps hatching could be a nice touch in more loose pieces to give some texture, but I won’t likely use hatching much if at all in painting, depends on the intended look.

One challenge in shading was, that I kept the charcoal in my hand the wrong way. Duh. When shading, the stick was to be held even more from the end and then using quick motion of wrist to create the sharp lines for shading (no back and forth movement either, one direction). This was my first major mistake when starting shading -> wipe and redo 😀 (and whether making the lines or shades, the charcoal stick is not to be held like a pen)

So, now the first part is over and after this week holiday we continue with live model. I think I heard we will also do some croquis, which is a bit terrifying. I am terrible at drawing anything fast or sketching in general. But lets, see. Something I have to practice, but right now I should also finish a few written assignments and one course painting… 😀

edit. And due to corona situation, there did not come any part 2, the course ended as any online option was not provided.


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