Friday, 25 July 2014

Figure Drawing with Colleen Barry at the Grand Central Academy, NY

Well, I surprised myself by booking a trip to New York to attend a course with Colleen Barry, and had a wonderful time.

Manhattan, from the Top o' The Rockefeller Center  

Such a contrast between outside (fast, humid-hot, bright, busy and colourful) and inside the studio (dark, still, quiet, focused and concentrated) - but the balance of those things meant that neither became overwhelming.

The studio is without windows and the walls are painted black, so all light is controlled, and constant.  the model was San Diego, and he was fantastic - incredibly stationary, without being lifeless (because if we want to draw a statue, then we ought to.. well, draw a statue), and eminated a professional and elegant presence at all times. 

end of day one - figure fully blocked in. 
The workshop only ran for five days, so we were spared the strict regime followed by the full time students of Classical Drawing. Having said that, it was a race against the clock to get everything completed in the time. Fortunately, Colleen gave us a list of what to address each day, which helped keep on top of it.  Day one was blocking in the whole figure, in a much freer way than seems apparent from the drawing, to find the gesture of the pose. Having the full day for this allowed time to get it right. 
end of day two - torso
The hardest day for me, was day three, when we had to do the legs - from this angle, the legs covered a very large area for toning. 
Colleen Barry (centre) with Liz Beard. 
Colleen Barry is a gentle and knowledgeable teacher. At some point every day we had instruction on anatomy, which is a huge and interesting subject.

Daily instruction on anatomy for artists was invaluable
End of day 5, fully complete, as much as I could in the time!
Colleen Barry is coming to Belfast to teach Figure Drawing, and attending her course in NY has filled me with confidence that all particpants will have a fully rounded, enjoyable learning experience with her.

Upcoming workshops - intensive portfolio course
Big Drawing Workshop at the Drawing Office, in Belfast's Titanic Quarter

Oil Painting workshop with Matt Weigle,
Figure Drawing Workshop with Colleen Barry

Draw In - a drawing symposium on 30th & 31st August with invited artists including PJ Lynch, Peter Cooper, Paul Foxtona dn Coleen Barry.

For information on all courses email


  1. Looking forward to Belfast at the end of August, Julie!

  2. didn't you find it claustrophobic having no natural light. I attend a weekly life drawing session in Austin (its self guided) and the one thing that has got to me, is the lack of natural light. The room is part of an old horse stable and feels a bit like a cellar. They have a white wall with a black drape with the model on a large plinth (not a 360 view) with one spotlight for light (occasionally a ceiling spot is used). The black drape is new and for some reason, it has affected me terribly. Its like life has been suck out of everything. I am giving it a break for a while
    I love your drawing, looks very resolute and solid. I would love to draw like that but accept my temperament is not that way inclined.

  3. Shevaun - time is flying in, I'm beginning to get excited!!

  4. Hi Jacqui, thanks for your comments. I know what you mean about the natural light - I was only there for a week, and I DID feel a strain on my eyes. The model was well lit, but the rest was certainly dim. In the next studio, students were drawing casts, so the only light was on the subject and on their page. The rest of the room was actually dark. I'm not sure how good that would be on the health generally, unless the light on the page was a daylight bulb. Thanks for your compliments on my drawing - I cetainly had to compromise on the pencil marks in ordre to get it all covered in the time. Dont give up, keep drawing, but draw in decent light!

  5. Amazing, I don't know how you do it! I really don't. He could walk off the page!