Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists

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My favourite thing is to go where I’ve never been.”  Dianne Arbus


Learn to Draw – Model in the Interior

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Model in the Interior

In our second last life drawing class we were introduced to the notion of drawing the model in the interior and I had no idea what how complex the subject could be.

Drawing the model in the interior involves a dialogue between wildly different elements, sometimes in conflict or opposition with each other. Depictions of interiors can reveal a great deal about human life, social conditions, politics, history and the personality and mood of the artist.

The figure needs to be compatible with the interior; the two elements must go together.  The interior becomes somewhat of a “still life” with the figure adding specificity. The conflict results from the figure distorting the sense of interior environment of the drawing. The psychology is within the figure and in the field much less.

Figures in an interior symbolize a certain take on an individual in terms of his interior/exterior. The interior becomes a pictorial desire to gain light inside and another kind of light outside and therein lays the contrast, the interior and exterior lights are different.

There is an exception in the interiors of Matisse. His outdoors and indoors were consistent (except in the drawing) and sometimes his outdoors were more artificial and illuminated than the inside. His exteriors appeared to be a continuation of interior space.


“Open Window Collioure” – Henri Matisse 1905

In 1942 an interviewer asked Matisse, “Where does the charm of your open windows come from?” He replied:

“Probably from the fact that for me the space is one unity from the horizon right to the interior of my work room, and that the boat which is going past exists in the same space as the familiar objects around me; and the wall within the window does not recreate two different worlds.”  From a radio broadcast transcript made available by Pierre Schneider, J. D. Flam, Matisse on Art, Phaidon Press, Oxford, 1978.

My favourite drawings of the model in the interior (above) were done by American artist Richard Diebenkorn.

In a 1952 radio interview Diebenkorn stated, “There is a hierarchy of importance to the various elements, the chair less, the rug less, the hands, clothes more, the faces vary accordingly.” 

Here are some drawings I did in class.

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Model in the Interior

Can’t say I was overly pleased with them.  The teacher said the man on the top right was too skinny and the lady on the stool drawing needs to be cleaned up.  Oh well, back to the drawing board so to say!

A drawing and painting site by Edward A Burke is a great reference.

Drawing – Gesture and Movement

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“We may think of gesture as the character of the action.  Look at two vases – one tall and graceful, the other fat and squat. They are as different in character as two people might be. 

Gesture, as you will come to understand it, will apply to everything you draw.  Even a pancake has gesture.  There is gesture in the way in which a newspaper lies on the table or in the way a curtain hangs.

The key to the nature of a subject is its gesture and from it all other aspects of drawing proceed.

It is far more important that your studies contain this comprehension of movement, of gesture, than that they contain any other single thing.” Kumon Nicolaides

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists

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“The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door,
in your own mirror
and each will smile
at the others welcome.

Derek Walcott

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists


When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.Marcus Aurelius

Drawing: Great Masters – Vincent van Gogh


Vincent van Gogh possessed spontaneous passion in his handwriting and it showed in his drawings. The character and rhythm of his marks are riveting.

Vincent used a variety of strokes in his work, usually starting in pencil and going over with a bamboo pen dipped in ink.  He sometimes used a broad flat pen point, switched to other points and also incorporated fine brushstrokes, all in the same drawing! Vincent was a mixed media artist ahead of his time.  Some of the strokes were made in diluted ink as can be seen from the examples below.

“I want to progress so far that people will say of my work, “he feels deeply, he feels tenderly – notwithstanding my so called roughness, perhaps even because of it.” Vincent van Gogh.

Vincent had a delightful clumsiness in his work; he did not care less about conformity.  He sidestepped the academic structure which may have restrained him and made up his own mind about his tools and techniques.  As Vincent mastered his technique, he came to recognize its power and beauty.


Count as many different types of strokes you can see in one of Vincent’s drawings.  Practice these strokes using a bamboo pen and black ink.  Vincent drew as quick as lightning in short strokes.  After all, bamboo pens run out of ink very quickly.   Now refer to the drawing immediately below and select your favourite tree. Incorporate as many of these different strokes as you can.  Don’t forget the clouds!

PS I can’t resist it!  Here is a gallery of some of Vincent’s amazing drawings.  They are indeed a graphic dance across the paper, musical and fluid.


Vincent van Gogh, “Cypresses, Saint Remy 1889” Reed pen and Bistre-coloured ink, with preparatory pencil on paper, The Brooklyn Museum.

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Unfortunately, I cannot reference these, I found them in a book when I was only 16 years old!