In the pleasant weather I try to paint outdoors much as possible, but in the frigid cold I content myself with painting small watercolors from the relative comfort of the car. Snow is always a nice bonus, providing good contrast and a relief from the dull grays and browns of bare winter trees. Including a structure in winter paintings is also a good way to bring in richer color and more interest to winter paintings. Above is the nature center at our local state park.
Another wonderful winter activity is to go to a life drawing class or open studio. I'm going to one on Sunday afternoons along with my daughter who is in high school and looking forward to going to art school in two years. It's time for her to start working on her portfolio and since she has a knack for portraits and has taught herself a great deal abouut the figure from books I thought it was time for her to get some experience drawing the model from life.
Below are three 5 min. gesture drawings and a then a longer pose of approx one hour. We lost power for a portion of the three hour session and the poor model was freezing. Fortunately she had a beautiful fur coat to drape over her shoulders and wooly socks for the long pose.
It's been probably 10 years since I've done any figure drawing and I know I'm rusty but it really felt great to be back sketching the model again. Drawing the figure form life is like pilates for perception skills, a real work out. Like nothing else, it trains your eye to see and translate the 3 dimensional reality into a 2 dimensional drawing. Everything you do whether still life, landscape or portrait will improve when you spent time drawing the human figure from life.