Looking for a life model

I’m in a watercolour sketching phase at the moment, sketching people in general and portraits in particular. Mostly I work in coffee shops trying to get a quick sketch done before the subject inevitably leaves at the critical artistic moment. However I am also really ‘over’ drawing people with cups or mobile phones in their hands. Given that I don’t attend regular life drawing classes I need a way to find some interesting models. 

So what to do? ‘Cheat’ I happily reply. I notice that I am not alone in drawing sculptures, by way of a substitute for a live model. Art galleries or even local parks can be good places to find interesting subjects.Here are some sculptures I drew while I was in Japan.

Two sculptures and an attendant in the Churyo Sato wing of the Miyagi Museum of Art in Sendai

Here’s another.

Shade, Churyo Sato, Miyagi Museum of Art, Sendai

When even the sculptures are lacking I turn to another source, photographs. The Boss, belting out a number (original photo Getty Images)

I find that newspaper photographers are particularly talented at capturing interesting positions of sportspeople or dancers. 

Aussie swimmers, Kyle Chalmers and James McEvoy (original photo AP)

The hard part, is to spend only the same amount of time sketching from the photo as you would if they were really in front of you. Just remember this is a way to practise making a quick sketch, not a photo-realist masterpiece. 


  1. I’m lucky to have a thriving weekly life drawing group to go to. Academic arts education in the UK until the mid 20th century had students drawing from sculptures as part of the curriculum. It’s a good substitute. lovely drawings 🙂

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    1. Thank you. It’s always so interesting to fins ‘new’ artists (new to me at least). These is another sculpture I drew of his where the figure is balanced horizontally. I do love sculptors who really push the boundaries of the form.

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      1. The Kiss by Rodin & Louise Bourgeois’s Arched figure 1993 would be beautiful to draw & so much more, the show is very inspiring with your interest in life drawing, have heard the David Hockney is brilliant and Bronwyn Oliver’s retrospective at Tarrawarra too!

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