The Details are a Bit Sketchy: Life Drawings


Being away for a month without picking up a brush reminds me that my next cocktail should be Rust-o-leum on the rocks and not a Cosmo. How best to re-enter the atmosphere of painting than to sketch.

It’s been decades since I’ve had a life drawing class and was thrilled to find one here when I got back home.

Through a grant from the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, a fellow local artist, Cindy, applied for and recieved a VICA grant to open her studio to anyone wanting to draw from live models at a ridiculously low fee for two hours.

She’s providing the space, the advertising to keep the word out, and live models in all stages of dress, period and regional costume and no stages of dress too.

Photos remove a critical dimension that flattens your perception. The flesh and muscle of a live model moves your pencil without trickery or shortcuts.

It’s hot, didn’t want to dally around details so I tried drawing from the feet up, to think of the model as a landscape of body parts and not a head on a neck on shoulders.

After 40 years of not doing life drawings, and feeling like a rust bucket, I wasn’t stretchbloghorrified.

It’s an exercise of stretching before doing a race.

And it makes you see what’s really there, not what you think you see is there.

And while mentioning buckets, how could I leave without some organic reminder of where I live.

This is another kind of bucket and although not of a rusty nature, it was a surprise from my husband who brought it home with the same pride your 4 year old would have shown in handing you roadkill.

5galsof It’s bat guano. The best darn fertilizer an urban transplant gal like myself could ever wish for after, perhaps a gift certificate to Bergdorfs’.

He really, really missed me.

Eat your hearts out ladies…………and you men, take notes.

It’s good to be home.

Now I’m going to open a tube of Ultramarine and see what a sniff of oils will do to get me motivated again.

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38 Responses to “The Details are a Bit Sketchy: Life Drawings”

  1. severnyproductions Says:

    I can relate

  2. planetross Says:

    note to self: guano is good.

    “Why would I buy you flowers for your birthday? I’ve got guano, so you can grow your own flowers splendidly.”

    double note to self: buy some bats.
    triple note to self: buy bat diapers too!

  3. Bonnie Luria Says:

    Severny- to the drawing? The rustiness or, confess- the guano?

    Ross- those quotation marks hold, alarmingly, a sentiment that could have come right from my husbands’ own lips.

    Now you’ll have to find yerself some urban gal of yer own to impress with cave scrapings.

  4. Marian Fortunati Says:

    It must be love, Bonnie!!!

    You are the third person in quick succession that I know who has taken up life drawing. A good reminder for me… If I ever get my energy back that will be my goal too.

    Glad you had a good trip and that you’re back in your own little piece of paradise and honey pot provider.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Thanks Marian- I noticed Kathryn Tyrell also had a few new posts about life drawing. The truth of it is hard to ignore.
      You’ll get your energy back- and will be really ready. Use this time to think, and accept delicious meals made by your husband.

  5. w1kkp Says:

    “Bats at the Beach”, one of my favorite books to read to my grand nieces and nephews who love it. does not mention their their guano at all!! They would love to have a few words on bat poop, I can tell you. But, I can safely say I’ve never wondered…”Hmm….wonder what good their poop may be to me!”

    But, I’ve missed the boat on countless other things so why not one more guano?

    I love how you describe the live model moving your pencil without trickery or shortcuts.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Pat- I never knew that guano ( a word like Guam, never used, seldom spelled ), is as potent a fertilizer as it is. It has to be harvested with a face mask due to the spore count, and can’t be used directly on plants without dilution.

      I’m happy to know there are kids out there who don’t shrink away in bugaboo horror at the thought of bats. They’re amazing mammals ( yes, live young ) and eat gazillions of mosquitoes and pollinate at night what birds pollinate during the day. They coexist really well.
      Humans! Are you listening????

  6. Donald Diddams Says:

    Nice drawings Bonnie. I can tell you haven’t lost your touch for expressing gestures and feelings with just a few strokes (of the pencil in this case). Time away from one’s art can be refreshing — or unnerving when you finally get to face that blank canvas.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Oh yes Don- I was more unnerved than inspired. I’m working on the thought that I’m better than a blank canvas and it can’t be the boss of ME. I’ll let you know how that goes……..
      But truly, drawing was a wonderful way to get back into ” seeing “.

  7. Melinda Says:

    Fabulous drawings, Bonnie. It’s clear that you have retained your life drawing skills!

    A great post too!! Had me laughing and understanding completely.

  8. severnyproductions Says:

    The rustiness. I have drawn for maybe three months i tried the other day and i just couldn’t produce something that i was satisfied with

  9. severnyproductions Says:

    Haven’t, sorry

  10. Kelly Says:

    All true gardeners knows that it is guano, not the Biblical mana, that is wished for when things fall from the heavens; or in this case the rafters of an old rum factory. I will follow with the flower seeds whose blossoms my love.

    Since I know you will be conflicted about attending the next drawing class on Saturday (same hours as our volunteer day at the Coop vegetable market), I will encourage you to do so. If you can’t quite overcome your misgivings, then I will pose for you on Sunday.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Kelly- that would be good, since I know you can sit perfectly still for hours- I’ll try to get you at the computer. That’d be good for a two hour pose!

  11. wrjones Says:

    Living on an island, drawing with friends, and sniffing bat shit. Life is good!

  12. kathryn law Says:

    “The flesh and muscle of a live model moves your pencil without trickery or shortcuts.” Agree with the poster above, that is a beautiful (and true) statement. So good to see you back in action!

  13. JoAnn Sanborn Says:

    I’ve missed you! “The flesh and muscle of a live model moves your pencil without trickery or shortcuts.” Bonnie Luria, will go into my artist quote file. Can I tweet it, too?

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Hi JoAnn- it’s good to be missed. Sounds like you can build an entire post around good quotes that we’d all like to read and share.

      What’s good about quotes is that they’re truncated speeches reduced to simple prose. And easy to remember.

      Tweet away!

      Thanks as always for checking back here.

  14. Nancy Moskovitz Says:

    You look anything but rusty to me! Also I think i forgot to tell you I love your NY photos, especially the skyline.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Nancy- funny how the anticipation of fear is more damaging than the result of doing the very thing you find daunting.
      Glad you like the photos- there were so many to edit down to.

  15. Joanne Says:

    Welcome home, Bonnie! You have been missed – and from the entries here, not just by me! I am very happy for you that you had a wonderful time away, that you realize your husband loves you and is grateful you are back, and that your garden will now “take off like a bat”… ha ha… okay it wasn’t as funny in words as in my head! Since ultramarine blue is one of my favorite colors, I will wait with bated breath to see what inspiration you received from that special tube of oils. 🙂 Thank you for your inspirational and beautiful words on my blog – they gave me joy beyond what I can express. Here’s wishing you a productive and peace-filled week.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Joanne- thanks for your paragraphs. They’re so much more than just comments and very much appreciated.
      I picked up the brushes today and sketched out a composition. Then called it a day.
      Sheeesh, I am stalling………

  16. eldon warren Says:

    I think we all missed ya!! But how do you top a nice gift like bat poop. I like these drawings. I totally envy anyone who can sit down with a pencil and do killer work like this.

  17. Bonnie Luria Says:

    Thanks Eldon but envy should die of loneliness in your case.
    You can paint like the wind!
    And like anything, the more you do it, the more familiar it becomes and the easier it gets.
    I’m still waiting……

  18. david lobenberg Says:

    My wife and I collect bat guano on our window sill below the bat house I installed a few years ago. What a wonderful gift! Bat guano rocks and so do bats, even though they are butt ugly little things.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Hi David- have missed you.
      We hold bats in high esteem, given the volume of mosquitoes they consume. A fitting cycle.
      I always wondered what purpose those pests served.
      Now I’m the beneficiary of their ingested bodies.

      It’s powerful fertilizer, I know.

      I think bats are terribly misunderstood and under appreciated.
      And I have seen butts much uglier than bats.

  19. razzbuffnik Says:

    No greater love hath a man for a woman , than to bring home a pail of bat guano for her.

    I say this because it is such a foul smelling substance when it is fresh.

    • Bonnie Luria Says:

      Razz- and I recognized its’ value. I knew where he had to go to retrieve it: a long abandoned rum factory, now home to 500 or more bats who have wallpapered the vertical surfaces with guano. Like stalagmites.
      He went with square nosed shovel, face mask ( good boy ) and determination.
      Came home with a very big grin.
      Was a very good thing he did.
      As well as defrosting both freezers and cleaning the house before I returned from a three week trip.

      I am a lucky girl.

  20. Carol King Says:

    I don’t know, but it seems to me like you can still draw really well. Even if it HAS been decades.

    And just a note, if Matt EVER happens to ask what you think I might like as a gift, bat guano will be REALLY, REALLY, REALLY low on my list.

    Just sayin’.

  21. wrjones Says:

    Is it about time for another group drawing session? Just a feeling I get, but I think Carol is serious about not wanting bat shit for Christmas. Boy, what a dilemma that posses. Now what can you get her?

  22. TerryC Says:

    Awesome sketches, Bonnie! Great post as usual!

    I especially love your comment exchange with Kelly….LOL

  23. Mary Sheehan Winn Says:

    I am SO NO GOOD in the heat. I don’t know how you do it.
    Don’t drink the Rust O Leum 😀

  24. Anthony T Says:

    I guess I pictured the gated road to the Tiki hut much greener. Nice job Bsssss…

  25. Kelly Gloger Says:

    Glad to see that you are continuing to experiment with other mediums. Most “Old Masters” first learned to paint by painting what their mentors/teachers had painted. I like that you improvised and didn’t shoot for a “photo match”.

    There is a lot of talent in those hand of yours just itching to come out. Keep up the good work and keep making it happen.

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