Developing Storytelling Skills From Life
Artist and teacher April Connors gets you to let loose in a quest to find the character lurking inside your drawings
Publisher The Gnomon Workshop Price Subscription only (from $49/month) Format Streaming video Web www.thegnomonworkshop.com
Whether they’re held at an evening class or at college, most life-drawing classes follow a familiar pattern of students grouped around a model, busily measuring proportions and trying to ensure that their drawing is as close as possible to what they see. If that’s what you’re used to, April Connors’ video for The Gnomon Workshop will shake up your approach and techniques.
April works here with a single, fully dressed model with a couple of costumes: a Ghostbuster-like jumpsuit with a rifle; and a vampiric gothic number with a sword. Rather than trying to reproduce what she sees, though, April feels her way through each of the model’s poses, creating an image that brings out attitude and personality. Drawings of the sci-fi solider become cartoony and energetic, while those of the vampire are more ethereal and glamorous. In both cases, it’s April’s response to the character, not her imposing her predefined style on the picture.
The techniques April employs come from various creative genres: proof that it’s perfectly acceptable to mix and match to form your own artistic vision. One minute she’s using charcoal to establish mood and movement before laying down lines, like a fine artist; the next she’s talking about finding the main gesture lines in the pose, just as an animator would. The confidence of April’s narration comes from years of teaching: you’ll feel like you’re in good hands, no matter how novel these ideas are to you.
These are the sort of exercises that are either great for loosening up before a long session, or for exploring new directions in your art. And, of course, you’re not excluded just because you don’t have ready access to a model willing to play dress-up. Just pull up some fashion photos or film stills from the internet, and see where the mood takes you.
April uses of a variety of media, so that her characters are enhanced by her materials of choice.
Animation influences come to the fore in this sketch, which becomes a sci-fi action shot.
In her video, April Connors encourages you to bring out the character behind the model’s pose.