Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Q&A: Gallery show at Douglas College explores the human form

From the sculptors of Ancient Greece to the fresco painters of Renaissance Italy to the masters of the modern era, artists throughout Western history have been fascinated by a subject that is close to all of us—the human form.

That age-old obsession with the way our bodies look and move is also at the centre of an upcoming visual-art exhibit at Douglas College. Works created by members of the New Westminster Heritage Life Drawing Society—and inspired by their observation of live models—will be on display as part of the Gestures show.

To learn more about the exhibit and the group behind it, we interviewed Gillian Wright, president of the Heritage Life Drawing Society and a Douglas College alumnus:

What is the Heritage Life Drawing Society?

Heritage Life Drawing is a nonprofit society for artists of all ages and all skill levels, who simply wish to explore drawing the human form. It is an excellent way to develop and strengthen skills of observation and detail. All artists need to hone their skills; whether they draw and create for a living or do it for pleasure. Everyone who has an interest in drawing and expressing themselves through art is welcome. We share ideas and inspire each other no matter what your skill level.

What is "life drawing?"

Life drawing is “gesture drawing.” For our members, that means practicing our skills using professional models who visit our drawing sessions. Each session begins with quick poses that last one minute, two minutes, five minutes and up to 30 minutes. The shorter ones are repeated five or more times while the 20- and 30-minute ones are fewer, depending on time remaining in the session. Not all sessions are the same. The entire three-hour session can be nothing but one- and two-minute gestures, or it can be the same pose from start to finish.

What mediums or materials are used during the sessions?

You can use any medium you wish although pencil and charcoal are the most common. Many people experiment with the colours of pastels and watercolours. Acrylic and oils can be used but involve much more preparation and therefore are not as popular.

What do you enjoy most about life drawing?

Life drawing has been a journey for me; it has helped me focus as well as expanding my creative process. It has taught me to see the small differences that make us all unique individuals, while still having the same basic body form.

What's most challenging about life drawing?

It challenges your ability to draw what you see as opposed to what you think you see, because we are all familiar with the human shape.

What will be on display in the upcoming exhibit?

This exhibition will show you how differently we all observe form and how we interpret it through many different mediums. There are displays of short quick gesture drawings as well as large developed paintings from these sessions. Life drawing has been around since man put chalk on the walls of caves and will survive the age of computers; it will never be a dying art. We love doing it too much.

Gestures runs August 8 to September 5 in the Amelia Douglas Gallery on the Douglas College New Westminster campus, 700 Royal Ave., New Westminster. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 7:30pm, and Saturday, 11am to 4pm. The exhibit is free and open to the public. To learn more about the Heritage Life Drawing Society, visit