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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

UAL Post-Grad Life Drawing at the Serpentine Pavilion

I signed up for the UAL Post-grad life drawing session at the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion on Wednesday 18th October 2023. I hadn’t done life drawing since I was working with a community gallery in Sheffield in 2014, so I was excited and nervous to attempt it again.

Before taking the train down to London, I visited my local art supply shop, knowing that the prices would probably be half that of London. I bought some charcoal sticks, Windsor & Newton chalk pastel and an 8B pencil – I really wanted to have the choice of black and white or colour during the session - as well as soft media which could make thicker line work under time pressure.

Before the session started, I wandered around the Serpentine Gallery and saw some rough line sketches exhibited on the walls, which made me feel much less worried about the work I might produce in the session. The session took place in the pavilion and the rainy weather meant that it was cold and damp, but it was still a beautiful place in which to work.

The life drawing model was a BA Graduate who had created these incredible dresses from recycled materials, which were a joy to draw. We were only given between 1 and 5 minutes per pose which was very challenging to work at such speed. When I have done life drawing previously, we were given longer times of 20-30 mins as well as the short poses. I wrote the time each sketch took at the corner of each drawing I made.

I experimented with a mixture of media and paper to create different effects, I had brought with me a sketchbook with brown as well as white paper, which looks particularly effective with an ink line drawing. I used the pencil, charcoal and chalk on the white paper.

The trickiest part was trying to capture the whole form in such a short period of time, especially the 1 minute poses. I realised that I couldn’t be careful, and I just had to make the marks with confidence and not worry about any perceived mistakes – there was only 1 drawing I abandoned. I tried to focus on the light and dark areas, to better capture the shape by making heavy line marks or smudging the areas which were in shade.

Towards the end of the session we were invited to add material to the models “skeleton dress” which had hooks on the bodice so that it could be adapted for different outfits. It was genuinely so much fun to dress her up in different coloured fabrics, I tied a bow in a luscious dark green cloth and pinned it onto her navel.

I was particularly pleased with how my last sketch came out, because I used the vibrant colours of the chalk pastels I had brought to show the different fabrics we had used to create her outfit. I really liked the energy and intensity of the lines I created in this drawing.

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