Artists, nude models to go the distance in Life Drawing Marathon

Mark Glavina is hosting another life drawing marathon at Phoenix Art Workshop next weekend. - Sandra Steier photo
Mark Glavina is hosting another life drawing marathon at Phoenix Art Workshop next weekend.
— image credit: Sandra Steier photo

A marathon—a gruelling test of endurance—starts next Friday afternoon in Steveston. But instead of sweatbands and spandex, participants will be carrying pencils and paintbrushes.

The Phoenix Art Workshop is hosting a Life Drawing Marathon—25 hours of painting the naked human figure over three days.

Nude models will pose in sessions ranging from 45 minutes to five hours, and props will set the mood of the marathon’s Dirty ‘30s theme. Artists will sketch, draw and paint models dressed—or in this case, undressed—as characters such as Charlie Chaplin, a vaudeville dancer, card shark, gangster moll and rum runner.

Life drawing, as it’s known, is a long tradition in the art world that hasn’t lost its lustre.

“There’s definitely a revival of this all around North America,” said Mark Glavina, owner of Phoenix Art Workshop. “We’re finding that there’s something to be said for the importance of that classical drawing and painting.”

The human figure is the most drawn and painted subject matter in art history. Nothing else even comes close, said Glavina. For artists, the human figure continually offers new challenges.

“It’s infinitely complicated in terms of muscle structure, body type, character,” said Glavina. “It’s always exciting and suitably challenging. If you can draw the human form, drawing landscape and still life are a little more academic.”

Figure drawing can be gestural, impressionistic, classical or representational—depending on the artist and level of experience. And the marathon’s non-teaching format allows artists to develop skills while experimenting with different mediums.

Glavina puts watercolour, oil and acrylic paint in his marathon toolbox, along with pencils and charcoal, while some participants are comfortable with drawing alone. Glavina approaches each of his works as an exercise, freeing himself of the pressure of producing. It’s something he also tells his students; once they’re finished with a piece they can throw it out if they so choose.

For those signed up for the entire marathon, an endurance test awaits. Breaks are frequent, both for artists and models, but Glavina acknowledges after 25 hours of drawing, there are some sore bodies.

“(Participants) said their work gets stronger and stronger as the weekend goes on, but their body gets weaker and weaker,” he smiled.

Life Drawing Marathon 2013

•Jan. 18 to 20 at Phoenix Art Workshop, 12211 First Ave.

•Cost is $30 to $75

•Limited space; register by calling 604-448-1860

•More info at phoenixartworkshop.com

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