Daniel Maidman

Life Drawing: Form and Living Presence in the Figure

August 19th to September 2nd, 2013

We will be tackling drawing the nude on toned paper, using white pencil and graphite to produce lights and darks. This approach reduces the time required to produce a complete rendering, and tends to promote physical control of the media – that is, self-control: discipline, dexterity, and sensitivity. Both the efficiency and the control are important in meeting our goals for the class.

Our goals are an enhanced ability to comprehend and represent the figure. Although there will be room made in the class for personal style and vision, the emphasis will be on developing and refining the fundamental tools of perception and representation.

In order to meet these goals, there will be a shorter lecture component, and a more extensive practice and critique component.

Topics will include:


Perception of structure – Before we draw the model, we will talk about the model: what are we seeing in this pose? What major and minor structures are visible? How do we know that they’re visible – exactly what are we seeing, and how are we interpreting what we see to construct what we think we know?

Line – Where do we decide to place lines, and what character ought our lines to have? How sensitive do we want to make the line relative to the form it describes? How do line curve and line weight inform depiction?

Rendering and detail – How do we develop lights and darks using our media? What degree of exactitude do we want to pursue? How do we balance the amount of detail we see in close study with the amount of detail yielded by a quick sweep of the eye? How do we depict the level of detail we have selected – how do we eliminate some details and focus on others?

Lighting – How can we become aware of light as a presence? How do we depict the effects of light consistently? How do we distinguish the ways that light reflects from skin overlying muscle, fat, and bone? How do we develop a coherent distribution of values over an entire drawing?


Building on the elementary skills refined in week 1, we will tackle compound skills in week two:

Dynanism – Evaluation of the pose in terms of patterns of tension and relaxation, and design of the drawing around evoking a sense of the dynamic equilibrium of the pose, the quality often described as “motion.”

Composition – Relation of the pose to the time allowed and the shape of the paper. How can the depiction be selected to optimize the interesting use and arrangement of formal elements?

Psychology – Seeing the model as a human being, not an object. Development of skills of perception of the model’s personality and nature as a person; introduction to representation of those observations in the drawing.

Mood – Selection of the feeling desired in the drawing, and orchestration of the other skills developed over both weeks to express and support that feeling.

Although the course will be technically structured around this sequence of study, there will be a great deal of flexibility integrated into it in actual practice. The goal is not served by following a pre-set agenda so much as it is by discovering and addressing the needs of each student. These needs can only be discovered through practice.

To that end, following the lecture component each morning, most of the session will be spent drawing from the model. Drawing will alternate with long breaks during which student work will be critiqued. The default will be public critique (“everyone gather around and look at this”) because each student can learn from the work and analysis of work of each other student. However, private critique will be available as well, by appointment separate from the main class meeting.

Workshop meets Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

sessions run from 9-1; if it proves necessary to add afternoon sessions, these will be added. Pending this adjustment, students are encouraged to apply the same skills being developed in class to still life and landscape independent study in the afternoon; this work can be shown and discussed as well.

The supply list is as follows:

– 2B pencils – 20x

– Prismacolor white pencils – 30x

– Pre-tested pencil sharpener (not all sharpeners work with Prismacolor pencils) – 2x

– Eraser (the kind that looks and extends like a mechanical pencil) – 4x

– Rives BFK Tan 22″x30″ printmaking paper – 20 sheets, each sheet cut in quarters (folding and tearing can be done to make the cuts) – important note: that means we’ll be training to draw on 11″x15″ sheets of paper. Part of physical self-discipline involves learning to draw small.

– hard board, at least 11″x15″, for resting the paper on. Recommendation: 12″x16″, with a couple of clips to clip a sheet of paper to the board