I should attend a few sessions myself, to be honest I never really quite achieved that "very experienced" stage to my own satisfaction.
Letters to Domai
I just had to reply to last week's newsletter.
I am an artist whose main subject matter is the female nude... thus I am a member of DOMAI for all the obvious reasons. But I much prefer to work from 'life'.
I run London's (UK) largest life-drawing society, we have over 150 members and we meet weekly to draw. There are usually about 60 - 70 of us at a weekly class, so we have 4 models, mostly women. We have a 15 minute, a 30 minute and a 2 hour life (nude) models and a clothed portrait model. While the models are posing all you can hear in the room is the sound of the pencils scratching the paper.
I was shocked by Joe's casual remark that he can't afford $500 for a model. If this is a true representation of the amount life models get paid in his part of the world, then I may lose all my life models to Kansas... as we only pay £10/hour in London (one of the most expensive cities in the world)... say about $17 an hour... So for $500 Joe will get almost 30 hours of life drawing at our prices. What do they get paid in Kansas?
Now I get exhausted by maintaining the intense concentration needed to produce an acceptable drawing for anything longer than 4 hours, so at $17/hour that should equal 8 days of drawing/painting. Which ought to be enough to get something done.
So contact your local adult education college (I'm sure they also exist in the States) and sign on to a life drawing course... then get talking to the tutors and models and arrange your own sessions. The tutors will have the contacts, and you can do your learning cheaply in class. Then you can graduate to hiring your own model when you fell confident enough. You won't regret it.
To be serious, life models are well paid, but it isn't silly money. And the intensity of the work , and the quality of the result is definitively worth every penny. I also pay £30/hour if we are going to create some serious photographic reference material, but most artist's life models are allergic to cameras, certainly until they get to know you well.
As to why most professional artists don't like to work solely from photos there are two main reasons: first the camera's perspective is not the same as the eye's, and second that when you work from a photo you tend to become slavishly attached to whatever happens to be in it. There is nothing like being able to walk around the model, to set your own light, and to really have to look at what you're drawing (they also move). I work much faster, and much better, when I work from life than from a photo. The whole point of drawing is to learn to look properly at the world, and for us, to look at beautiful women, and to learn to appreciate the wonderful diversity of that beauty.
So please, draw from life: you'll learn more about drawing (and the female figure) than from working from photos and it's roughly about 1,000,000 times more enjoyable.
Simon Whittle, London, UK