After copying, comes creating. Copying builds skill, life drawing hones talent.
Copying is for learning the basics. When you start to leave copying and start to create, there comes a new level of learning.. that can be scary. Bc then you really start to see how little you truly know. When you leave copying pictures and start drawing from life, it will probably be the biggest shock in your drawing life. Take my experience for example:
All through out grade school I copied my favorite characters from magazines and posters. I would draw every single Pokemon when I was in elementary to my favorite artist's album cover during highschool. I would draw some things from life but they were mostly of spaces or buildings. Always staying a little abstract to hide my flaws.
Then came freshman year of college: Week one. All us students came with our new biggie boards and freshly sharpened pencils and sat down in our life drawing class. The model is nude and getting ready to start posing. I have never drawn a nude model in person before and it was quite odd to realize the immaturity I was feeling all bc there was a penis right there hanging like no bodies business. All that went away when our instructor told us that we were not to EVER use pencils and to walk over and grab a piece of charcoal and to begin drawing the model. Then began the 30 seconds poses. Then with in 20 seconds I realized exactly why the instructor made us use charcoal and not pencil. You can NOT draw details with charcoal and finish a drawing in 30 seconds. It forces you to be broad and to commit to your lines even if they weren't perfect. It makes you live with the mistakes you create on the paper and because of that you are INSTANTLY AWARE of everything you are not good at. When you draw with pencil you can erase your mistakes... not in life drawing.
We eventually learned its not about being ACCURATE and replicating a true depiction of the model. but to capture something .. deeper. You try capture the 'feeling and energy' of the GESTURE. (if you didn't notice I capitalized and bloded the word gesture. That means I'm trying to make a point.) I'm not drawing wrinkles in the clothes and every single finger, but I'm drawing ONE line that goes from the head to the toe with in a second. I am overlapping, and drawing over the whole body in one line that never leaves the paper, not worrying about mistakes and smudges my hand leaves. Because when you finish 2 hours later.. It all comes together. Those 'mistakes' help support and add energy to a drawing I could never really quite capture back in the day when I use to copy. Copying another drawing is copying 2D and translating it to 2D again. Drawing things from 3D to a 2D surface is a whole different world.
Some people life draw very accurately, some people life draw very abstractly.. Learn to do it both ways. Don't worry about what you are drawing BUT HOW YOU ARE DRAWING IT. No one will ever see what you see, so they will never compare your drawing to the real model and criticize you. What they will do is criticize your drawing and how you did it.
- 'But but.. DANNY, the model moved and Thats why my drawing looks bad. Its not my fault.'
Hey well guess what. It is your fault that you created a bad drawing. The models job is not to stay still, the models job is to give you a concept, an idea of a pose. The model plants the seed and you take what the model gives you and then YOU create from that. You are not copying, if the model moves, that should be no problem to you bc you are to of already captured the gesture within the first minute of the pose SO that if the model does move you already have the foundation of the original pose on your paper. You are on to blame for YOUR drawing, not the model because as far as they care, they have nothing to do with your drawing.
Life drawing teaches you not to be precious with your drawing. It may have something to do that after an hour you probably have made over 60 drawings. Who has time and the energy to care about that many drawings?? When one copies OF COURSE you get precious over drawings bc you probably spend weeks on one drawing.
Everything you did learn while you were copying does not go to waste, you just become efficient and learn how to do all your tricks faster. Your skills become second nature. It is essential to do life drawing with an instructor, even if you do not agree with their style or notes, bc no matter what you think, what they have to say is important and will only add to your knowledge and skills. If you find your self ever saying, 'I don't want to hold the stick sideways to draw, its not my style." You might as well use the money you're paying for your art school to wipe your own ass. Try everything that is told to you. Use every medium offered to you, learn how to create and let your style come through in all mediums and techniques. Learn how to do things academically, then learn how to do things experimentally. Then last but not least learn how to do things in your own way. Break out of your comfort zone often and early.
Thanks for reading