Monday, 21 December 2015

My name is Margaret Ferraro, and I am a life drawing-aholic

I'm not ashamed to tell you that I have an addiction. It's a passionate affair. It's that one time when I lose all consciousness about what's going on around me. It's deep meditation. It's the one thing I know I can do very well, and take pride in. I simply love to draw. Drawing the human form is not easy, but like anything, if you put the necessary effort into it, you can achieve a high level of skill in anything. Practise, is the key. If you love what you do, the effort is very easy. So simply find what you love, and just do it!

Many people ask me how I started teaching life drawing. I remember very clearly. I was reading an art magazine article, when the author mentioned that all BFA graduates want to teach life drawing. At this point in my life, I was well established in my love and passion for the sport, but had no plans on where it was going. But as soon as I heard that all BFA graduates wanted to teach this, I instantly also wanted to teach this. You see, I have no degree or formal education in such. Mine is the trial and error kind of education. Yes, workshops, a mentor here and there. But I basically taught myself. 
My decision to teach others what I do was not only instantaneous, it was heartfelt, an aggressive push from within that I cannot explain except to say I am full of passion for my sport. 
So I sat down at my kitchen table and said to myself, Self:  How, will I teach other people what I do? I know many teachers base their lessons on exercises from books. I also know the best teachers give from their well of experience and expertise. So instead of planning my workshops around Betty Edwards' Drawing on the right side of the brain, or some such other well known books, I starting writing down what I do. Consciously. How do I Draw? First, second, third. Then I formed this into a plan for incremental, sequential, logical, learning. I never looked back. Workshops formed, I kept on enhancing, changing, expanding what I already did. I still operate this way. It's been 20 years now, since I started teaching here. Unbelievable. 

Particularly with my life drawing classes, I have always felt that it was such a privilege, to do what I love, and teach it to others. 
With a few exceptions that I will note as I go down the list, this work is mostly from 2015. 
Thank you to everyone who has ever taken a life drawing class from me here at my home/studio. Many amazing experiences, amazing people, fantastic drawings, passions shared. 
Much meaning, much love. 

I think this one if from 2014. The wigged and the hidden. Graphite, 50 minutes.

How can I not include my most loved grandmother. 2014, from a photo, standing beside her Harley, 1940's. This was a studio piece I worked on over some time. 

My Mom, also from a photo, 2014. My guess is she is a teen, but it wasn't marked on the photo I did it from. Also a studio piece, not sure how much time went into it. 

You might recognize this well known Ottawa (now living in Toronto) model. It's Nicole, in conte. From 2015, 50 minutes.

Mesmorized by the long thin face, accentuated further by the bun of hair on top of his head, conte and charcoal, 50 minutes. 2015

This women is very tall. When a tall model does a standing pose, I often do a compositional cut. That means I do only part of the figure, as a compositional intent. 2015, 50 minutes

A young man I have drawn a few times,....Conte, 2015, 50 minutes

The well known Janine. Charcoal with past highlights. 2015, 50 minutes.

This girl got faint under the hot light, and the pose was cut short. I like the unfinished quality of it. Conte with pastel highlights, 20 minutes, 2015

Portrait commission, from a photo. Sorry, I don't keep track of how long studio pieces take me. It's charcoal, 2015

Nicole again, this time in oil. 30" X 36" on canvas. This piece was done over 4 sessions, 3 hours each. But it did not take me 12 hours. Much less. 2015

A quick draw, hands need work, but I love the hair on one side and shadow on her face. Conte, 25 minutes, 2015 

I often choose to do a portrait when I am not crazy about a pose. Conte, 25 minutes, 2015

I love having enough time to address an imaginative colour for the background as a mid value, in charcoal, conte, and pastel highlights. 45 minutes, 2015

Conte, with pastel highlights, 50 minutes, 2015

Many studies go unfinished, but I like the light on her face, and the way the face is more finished,  but the body is barely rendered. Your drawing doesn't have to the same level of finish everywhere. Many artists skillfully have one area more finished (the focal point), then another. 50 minutes, charcoal and pastel highlights. 2015

Capturing the actual volume, and length vs. width of the torso, is everything to having a reference point for the proportions of the rest of the body. Playing again, with the paper colour as mid-value. Charcoal, with pastel highlights. 50 minutes, 2015

My advice to you is always nail down a draft out of every part of the body before you explore value. I am a little disappointed in this piece. It's tight, and not flowing with the "life" that should be in life drawing. However, I do like the tones on her back. Goofing around a lot this year with charcoal. Love it! 25 minutes, charcoal, 2015

This was just down a few days ago. A lot of models don't understand well, or know how to use their imagination, while just being themselves up on the stand. Others, just do it naturally. I love the challenge of unusual perspectives. Conte and pastel. 25 minutes, 2015

There are many more, this is just what I pulled out for you. One point I am trying to make is that if you want to achieve anything with your life drawing, it's pretty simple. You must practise. Find a teacher you can relate to. 
To that end, I am happy to say I am starting to teach life drawing again in January! It'll be up on my website shortly after Christmas. If you want to know more now, just shoot me a line ( and I'll send you my new list of classes. 
In it for the passion of it!
Life Drawing in 2016.
See you there!