‘Clothing Optional,” the featured artists’ exhibit at Gallery at Marina Square, celebrates the human figure as the Friday Life Group displays 16 paintings and drawings.
Show organizer Ardella Swanberg notes that drawing the nude figure is an essential part of classical art training.
“I feel that it’s very important to draw well, and the most difficult thing to draw is the human figure,” she said. Because of the poses, often reclining, a major challenge is handling foreshortening, Swanberg said, adding that the figure also has a lot of “bends,” which are not easy to accurately capture.
“We want to represent the way we see to begin with, and later we want to abstract it to represent what we want to express,” she said. “We want it to look like it can move through space.”
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Swanberg, who has two drawings in the show, has been involved with the life group for nine of its 30 years.
“Many artists draw the figure throughout their lives,” she said.
She noted that Willem De Kooning said that drawing the nude also frees you for creating abstract and nonobjective art.
De Kooning was among the artists whom Frederique Rostovsky met in New York in the 1950s, when she was married to abstract painter Andre Rostovsky.
Born in Belgium, Rostovsky was exposed to a lot of art, but not encouraged to do her own.
“In my lifetime, when I was younger, the women were not considered the artists,” she said.
After moving to Morro Bay around 1970 she took life-drawing classes at Cuesta College.
“We had a ball,” she recalled. “It was fun because it was not organized.”
Now 86, she’s traveled with her daughter, lived all over the world, and sold her work in Japan and Europe. She’s been attending the life-drawing gatherings in Morro Bay since their inception.
The show combines work in color, such as Kate Moldauer’s charcoal and pastel, and the grays of Jacqueline Morello’s graphite drawings.
Jan Mannering, who is exhibiting two works, arranges for men and women of all shapes and sizes to model.
The weekly three-hour Friday Life Group is not a class, in that there is no instructor. Artists pay a fee and provide their own materials. The models strike short poses initially, then from 20 to 30 minutes, so the artists must work swiftly.
Group newcomer Heather O’Connor moved to Morro Bay in April, after a brief stint in Arizona following retirement. She earned her art degree in Pennsylvania, where she was born and raised and lived for most of her life. As a natural science illustrator, O’Connor mostly draws plants, insects, shells, and fish.
Using models who pose au naturel fits right in.
“Drawing nude models is the best way to keep your drawing skills in shape,” she said.