Drawing at the Vallejos


Let's take a quick break from my overlong SVA diary entry and talk about something else for a bit.

I hate computers. Some days they really make me angry -- angry enough for me to consider just giving them up entirely and never touching them again. Today is three or four of those days. But then I find myself thinking of the good things that happen to me only because I have a computer and I wonder how I could possibly manage without one (or two or three). For example....

On the very last day of my time at SVA, when I was contemplating the withdrawal symptoms of leaving and not having a studio and particularly of ending the life drawing sessions, I got e-mail from Dorian Vallejo asking if I'd like to join his sketch group. He got my e-mail address from the New York Figure Drawing Meetup Group, only one meeting of which I attended. Since he's in New Jersey, and he saw I'm in New Jersey, he thought I'd be interested.

Of course I was thrilled to find another drawing group to join and as soon as I could, I went to one of Dorian's Saturday sessions here in New Jersey. And I ended up having one of the best Saturdays I'd had in a really long time. Dorian and his wife Liana were absolutely fantastic and made me feel so welcome -- I don't think I've ever met anyone and immediately felt we'd known each other for years, but that's how it felt with them. Dorian invited me to dinner after the session and all the artists and the model stayed for another four or five hours -- well into the night -- talking and laughing and having a good time. It was -- and I don't say this often -- special.

It was a small crowd there that day. There was Dorian and Liana -- both of whom are accomplished portraitists and illustrators (who both attended SVA themselves in the early 1990s) -- along with Reilly Brown, a comic book penciller working for Marvel, and Richard Scarpa, another portraitist. Meeting Reilly was pretty great, since he actually does something I used to dream of doing, which is drawing comics. I've given up on the dream but now I can learn what it's really like.

Our model for the day was Hilary Robin Schmidt. She's very thin and has a cascade of naturally red hair which I would capture if I could; but it's beyond me. Liana had bought a ton of props from a local crafts store which was going out of business so Hilary posed with leaves and flowers and flowing scarves. Also, apparently Dorian and Liana had gone shopping for Hilary and bought some clothes for her to pose in as well. So this session was different from the other ones I'd been to, since there much more to work with than just the nude. Although, really, right now I prefer no props, and I skipped over them where I could.

Chris Rywalt, sketch of Hilary, 2007, pencil on paper, 11x14 inches

Sketch of Hilary, 2007, pencil on paper, 11x14 inches

Hilary worked her way up to 40-minute poses, the final one of which was actually just her lying down going to sleep after her long modeling session. In the style I've been working -- the outline, sweeping Conté lines -- a 40-minute pose -- hell, a 20-minute pose -- is way too long. I rapidly run out of things to do. I mean, I've been naming my sketchbooks after the models because I can rattle off fifty drawings in one session. But how many drawings can I do of one pose? Not that many.

Chris Rywalt, sketch of Hilary, 2007, pencil on paper, 11x14 inches

Sketch of Hilary, 2007, pencil on paper, 11x14 inches

Alas, I'd only brought the one stick of Conté. Luckily, Dorian's studio is well-stocked. Liana loaned me a pencil and he tossed me a kneaded eraser and I went to work on more detailed, slower drawings, with shading and everything. I was glad to see I could still draw that way if I wanted. And, more, I was glad to finally have something I could put up here to show Jeff Freedner. I really can draw!

Chris Rywalt, sketch of Hilary, 2007, Conte on paper, 11x14 inches

Sketch of Hilary, 2007, Conté on paper, 11x14 inches

Chris Rywalt, sketch of Hilary, 2007, Conte on paper, 11x14 inches

Sketch of Hilary, 2007, Conté on paper, 11x14 inches

Of course, I have to show you some of the Conté sketches, too.

All in all, a fantastic experience. And one I wouldn't have had if not for computers -- and the Internet. (As someone once said, the power of a computer is directly proportional to the size of the network attached to the back.) That should make my Netgear router happy, since it's all that's keeping me from tossing it out the window right now.


Very nice drawings Chris. You CAN do shading! It can be hard to do when the room is crowded, but if you want to keep doing short drawings during longer poses, just change locations so you get a different view.So glad you are doing this. I keep meaning to get to our local weekly drawing group, now I am feeling a bit inspired to go this Monday night.

Oh, and: Thanks.

I change locations. I go all around. But still, 40 minutes is a loooooooong time. Longer for the model, I imagine (unless they're sleeping), but still, a long time.

Guess I pointed out the obvious, sorry.I wish our group would do longer poses. That's one reason I don't go very often, I want a longer pose to develop the drawing further. Not always of course, but a good hour pose once in awhile would be nice.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris Rywalt published on July 29, 2007 3:23 AM.

The School of Visual Arts 2007 (Part 2) was the previous entry in this blog.

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