TRANS FIGURATION

March 19, 2018

I am not a very good drawer. My drawing skills were last methodically tuned up while learning how to draw croquis (fashion figures) in my sophomore year Apparel Design courses, way back when I was still aspiring to move to New York and make my mark on the fashion scene. Fast forward to an already-pitch-black-at 6:30 January evening and me dutifully bundling up to head to my first figure drawing class. 

 

Figure drawing classes are an exciting way to practice drawing skills. There is an element of action and a comparison of perception and personality between you, your models and the other participants in the exercise. Also, there's usually a naked person. In an only-in-New-York move, the Brooklyn Museum held a life drawing class in 2016 hosted by artist Jeremy Deller in which the surprise model for the evening's amateur class was rock legend Iggy Pop. The museum later installed a room that showcased the wide-ranging sketches that resulted from the night, giving museum-goers a glimpse into what the famous body might have looked like that night but also a beautiful insight into the personalities that lent their hand to the renderings. 

 

Not to be outdone, my figure drawing class is also an only-in-Brooklyn kind of happening, given that the the models for our monthly life drawing classes share the characteristic of being transsexual. Hosted by friend and talented illustrator Charrow, what Charrow has created may be the most forward-thinking, arts-in-action figure drawing class happening in the nation. Two models pose for each session, with all donations currently being redistributed to them. The event is held in the private back room of an LGBTQ-friendly bar in Prospect Heights which has generously donated use of the space for the last three months. Calmly sipping beers and making marks across various types of paper, the attendees of these evenings are seeing and affirming the unique beauty of this often-politicized cross section of human bodies. We work in timed exercises graduating from 30-second poses to one-minute intervals to five, fifteen and sometimes thirty. Because figure drawing itself is an exercise in training the eye to "see," we are invited to look closely and carefully at the bodies before us. Resisting the temptation to apply preconceived notions of traditional body templates, we are challenged to draw in a perfectly present, truthful way, finding new ways to honor beauty and body with our markings. By the end of each class, the participants and models are bonded in new ways. Models are as eager to see how we rendered them as we are bashful of our drawing skills to share our output. 

 

The Sketchy Queers Figure Drawing event is open to the public and takes place each third Monday of the month. Information about time and location are found here on facebook. Beginning this month, there is a movie night happening following the drawing class which participants are welcome and encouraged to stick around for. 

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