Making One’s Mark

Tuesday life drawing sessions offer opportunity for all skill levels

Calvin Carter works on a painting during an Art Studio life drawing session. Photo by Caitlin Duerler.

From the Lascaux Caves to the bathroom walls in the local public high school, mankind has always had the impetus to record his experiences through drawing.

We may not remember the first time we were handed a crayon and paper, but drawing is an important first step to learning how to write and communicate with others. However, by the time most people reach adulthood, they often claim that they cannot draw or have no ability beyond a stick figure.

The Art Studio, Inc.’s life drawing sessions on Tuesday evenings seek participants who are interested in brushing up on their drawing skills and practicing making their mark. Since last spring, Port Neches Groves High School art teacher and independent artist Calvin Carter has moderated the classes — continuing a tradition that he benefitted from during his art studies at Lamar University.

A drawing by Mary Catherine Wilbur

“I used to come to Art Studio life drawing back when I was in college at Lamar,” he said. “We used to do our life drawing classes at school, and then we would come here and do it again if we had time. I was trying to get as much drawing time in as possible.”

Sessions, which are uninstructed, are popular with many art-school students because of the low-pressure environment and freedom to experiment, says Lamar art and biology student Chloe Milissa Beggs Thompson of Beaumont. She also models for life drawing classes.

“It is a good place to play around with your own drawing abilities without the pressure of grades,” she said. “As a model and an artist, it really gives me perspective on what a model has to go through.”

Sessions are two hours and include a variety of short and long poses. Professional and budding artists often experiment beyond charcoal and pencil, bringing watercolors, oil paints and ink to play around with during the session.

While life drawing is obviously a great way for artists to maintain their drawing practice, Carter says anyone can benefit from regular attendance and participation.

“I was always taught that life drawing was one of those keys in learning how to draw and do a bit of everything,” he said. “I remember when I was in college, there were photographers who would take it and it really helped them see models differently and pose models in new ways.

“There was even an architect who took the life drawing class, and he said that his work improved because he was practicing drawing the anatomy, muscles and bone structures and such — and it was so much more complicated than he thought. That experience carried over to his architecture — he started to see things differently.”

Artists at work Art Studio life drawing session. Photo by Caitlin Duerler.

Mary Catherine Wilbur, a Lamar student and independent artist from Beaumont, emphasized the need to maintain her hand-eye coordination skills and drawing practice to improve as an artist.

“One reason I come to life drawing is the practice and to be able to draw outside of school, and another reason is there is a lot more freedom to do what you want with the observations you get,” she said. “I am working in pen and ink so I can work on making a more confident line — instead of scratching it out, just making the mark.”

Comparable classes in bigger cities often cost three times as much as the $5 drop in fee at TASI, Carter said.

“It is really special to have this in Southeast Texas and I hope other people will utilize this resource and get to draw while meeting other people from the art community,” he said. “Everyone who comes here is at all different levels — no one is trying to impress or intimidate.”

Sessions meet on Tuesday evenings from 6-8 p.m.

For more information, check out the life drawing Facebook page.

ISSUE story by Caitlin Duerler

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