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Hamptons Life

May 25, 2010 11:51 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

With resurgence of interest in the human figure, more opportunities arise for working with models

May 25, 2010 11:51 AM

T

his is the final installment of a series examining a resurgence of interest in nude figurative work in the Hamptons.

Interested in making figurative art based on a naked model? Not enrolled in art school? Luckily, there are options aplenty for sketching on the East End.

A rising interest in figurative art means more artists are interested in working with live models. Traditional nude life drawing classes are cropping up. Some have instructors and some do not. Still others are geared for high schoolers who need life drawing work for college applications.

Sketch parties with clothed and nude models are starting to crop up. The edgy Dr. Sketchy events in Brooklyn and beyond continue to attract East End artists. Many artists—photographers especially—engage a solitary model to make art in private settings.

Pre-dating the renewed interest in the figure, Southampton is home to the oldest life drawing classes on the East End, said Linda Capello. Ms. Capello is a figurative artist and leads life drawing workshops on behalf of the Southampton Artists Association (SAA). The workshops have been held continuously for more than 20 years and have attracted illustrators, people in the advertising business, the curious and artists working in other genres who want to sharpen their skills.

“Drawing from a model changes the way you look at things,” Ms. Capello said. “If you can draw the body from life, you can draw anything.”

The weekly workshops follow an open studio format, with a model perching before a group and striking a succession of poses. Models can be male or female and body types vary from slender to robust.

Artists set up easels based on the perspective they’re seeking. There is no talking and no interaction with the model. There is no instruction, although much can be learned about technique by watching how others hold a pencil, distance from the drawing surface and ways to develop a sketch, Ms. Capello said.

Workshops featuring nude models are held every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Veterans Hall in Southampton; there is a $7 fee. For information, call Ms. Capello at 725-5851.

Open studio figure drawing is also held at Applied Arts School in Amagansett on Mondays from 6 to 9 p.m. The fee is $15 and reservations are requested. (Visit www.appliedartsschool.com or call 267-2787).

South Street Gallery in Greenport runs a life drawing class on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. The fee is $20 per session or $120 for 10. (Visit www.thesouthstreetgallery.com or call 477-0021).

Life drawing sessions with an instructor introduce some dialog into the process. Typically, an instructor provides guidance on how to draw from a model. Between poses, artists can compare drawings and receive feedback on their work.

SAA hosts an instructed class on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon; the fee is $25. The East End Arts Council in Riverhead recently began offering instructed life drawing. The next workshop will be on July 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $68.

Sketch parties are a different experience. The atmosphere is casual and chatting up the model between poses is fine. Drinks are served and spectators are welcome. Drawing demonstrations and instruction can be part of the mix.

Thomas Shelford of East Hampton demonstrates drawing from the model at salon parties held at Giles Larrain’s studio in Soho. The events feature live music, models (typically clothed), wine and more. The salon parties are designed to encourage creativity and connections within the arts.

Mr. Shelford also hosts invitation-only sketch parties on Sundays in East Hampton. He’s leading a public sketch garden party on Monday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the newly-opened WhiteWash Studio in Amagansett. Spectators and artists are welcome. Visit www.whitewashstudio.net for information.

A truly unique experience is offered at Dr. Sketchy sessions. The drawing events feature burlesque dancers or other costumed characters. Drinking, talking to the models, drawing contests and soaking up the unique energy is part of the fun, said Shelter Island artist Mary Larsen. These sessions are great to give creativity a kick when routine sets in, she said.

Closer to home, Ms. Larsen gets inspired by live models when assisting photographer Alexis Martino. Ms. Martino’s art calls for models in unusual settings, so private sessions are required. Ladybugs, upside down poses and other unique setups with specific lighting are used to make photographs, Ms. Martino said.

Private sessions allow for a connection to form between artist and model, especially if the model is a friend or fan of the artist’s work. Friends are often the nude subjects in works created by area artists Tapp Francke, Jane Martin, Dorothy Frankel and Mark Seidenfeld. Andrea Cote is her own model for figurative photography, video and performance art.

No matter what the option, even small changes can make a difference, said Mr. Shelford. The energy changes if music is live or recorded. Classical, jazz or world music can spin inspiration in different directions. Connecting with other sketchers or critiquing each other’s work helps form bonds among participants. When the model is accessible, the dynamic shifts again.

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