It started as a landscape. I was working out different ways to get texture for a beach scene. I normally work at an angle, occasionally vertically, but to increase granulation I had the paper flat and applied the paint unevenly with various warm and cool colours.

When I paint in life sessions I like to work on toned paper – often I prepare it myself. Now, looking at the paper when it had dried, I saw that it had areas of varying tone which could be orientated differently to capture the tonal contrasts of a figure.

I cut out and keep interesting images of figures and faces, with good tonal contrast, to sketch in my sketchbook. So, from the folder I put them in, I plucked out this contemplative soul. So here is an exploratory sketch, keeping the paper flat as I worked. Perhaps I am missing the life groups. I normally work in anything but watercolour at these sessions, but when and if they do restart here, I might prepare some watercolour paper to take along.

Meanwhile, back to the beach…

Other life drawing is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com


  1. Thanks Margaret, hopefully next year -though a mate of mine is running a zoom life session, but after the TV life programme I am not sure about it, and participating would only raise my blood pressure. I like to walk around the model and get an angle that interests me. The other thing is getting a decent view – the TV session had the model only half the screen size. I felt I could do with binoculars.


    • Thanks Vic, I was pleased how it came out for a sketch. The underpainting I described helped pull it together, but the lighting on the image was great. Lighting is so important and can pull the ordinary into the sublime – yet the fights I have at life sessions to play with the lighting …


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