Arts and Entertainment

Artists gather weekly to draw the human figure

For the last two years, a group of Islanders has gathered nearly every week to take on one of the classic challenges in visual art — capturing the human figure.

This Friday, some of their work will be on display at the Quartermaster Inn & Restaurant in Burton as part of the monthly Gallery Cruise.

The drawing sessions are not classes, said Will Forrester, a Vashon illustrator who initiated the weekly gatherings. Rather, those who come work on their own in non-instructional sessions, paying a nominal fee — $15 per person for a three-hour session — which enables the group to pool their money to hire a model and rent the Grange near the north-end ferry parking lot.

The models pose nude. They do short poses as well as long ones, Forrester said; recently, he added, the group has asked the model to hold a pose for nearly the entire evening, giving artists a chance to fully develop their drawings or paintings, Forrester said.

The sessions are open to anyone who wants to participate. And so far, Forrester said, the sessions have attracted a range of artists — from those who have been painting or drawing for years to those who started out as artists, stopped to raise children or take another path and are resuming their interest in art.

The atmosphere, he added, “is relaxed but serious.”

“There’s a contingent of artists who are up to the task,” he said.

Drawing the human figure is one of the classic endeavors of visual artists, Forrester said — and for many, it’s challenging. It requires an ability to capture foreshortening, proportions and composition — skills that can make “a two-dimensional paper pop to life and look three-dimensional,” Forrester said.

It’s also a joy, he added.

“Drawing a figure is to an artist what loosening and limbering up is for a dancer or the musical scales are for a musician,” he added. “Once you can draw the human being, you can draw anything.”

The sessions, which usually draw around seven to nine people, run from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday nights at the Grange. Call Forrester at 567-4548 for more information.

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