SUMMIT, NJ - He walked into Kelly Coyle’s art class at Summit High School (SHS) a few weeks ago, climbed up on a table in the middle of the room, adopted a regal pose, and stood there as students stared.
The professional figure model was hired with funds from an SEF grant, designed to introduce upper-level SHS art students to figure drawing. Many likenesses of the clothed model were captured and replicated in two- and three-dimensional media by the students.
According to Coyle, SHS art teacher and a co-author of the grant, figure drawing is a tradition in the fine arts, with most higher education art programs accepting portfolioss wanting to see renderings done directly from the subject source, not indirectly from photographs. “Our students are always making figurative work, but rarely get the opportunity to draw from life, and this gave them the chance to do so," said Coyle. "This also enabled them to create a strong portfolio piece that will be useful should they continue to pursue art studies beyond high school.”
In the Art 2 and Art 3/4 classes, the model began by posing for short two-minute gesture drawings, then five-minute ones, and eventually fifteen-minute sessions. On the last day he held his pose for the entire class period, allowing students the option of painting what they saw directly, instead of working from a sketch. Students created an array of pieces, including quick pose gesture drawings in pencil and charcoal, drawings in dry media such as color pencil and pastel, from longer poses, and pieces in wet media, including watercolor, gouache, and acrylic, from poses that lasted for the full class period. In the Sculpture and Ceramics class, the students created busts of the model’s face.
Liz Tenny, 11th grade art student, was enthusiastic about having a live subject. “It was a really different, new experience. I found drawing from the life model inspiring." Coyle was grateful her students beneiftted from the unique opportunity, saying “We are so thankful to the SEF for making this possible. The students created lovely drawings and paintings and had a lot of fun doing it."
For more information about SEF, visit sefnj.org.