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Inside the Norfolk Drawing Group

Inside The Norfolk Drawing Group

If you’re a local artist or an individual who’s just interested in drawing, the Norfolk Drawing Group is a great resource to utilize.The Norfolk Drawing Group or NDG is a group for adults that solely focuses on the human anatomy by working with live nude models. One’s art can drastically improve through drawing the figure from life on a daily basis.

Mastering the art of life drawing was a prerequisite for classical painters. A rigorous course of study, which helped create some of the greatest artists in art history. However, the NDG is a relaxed setting for private study of the human anatomy. There aren’t any teachers present, except for the teachers who continue to practice their craft. The average artist will never stop learning and growing.

The NDG currently meets every Tuesday evening at Alchemy NFK, in the heart of the newly designated Downtown Arts & Design District. Sessions cost $7.00 or $20.00 for four consecutive sessions. $3.00 for students with proper id.

The first Tuesday of each month is Painting night. This extended session meets at 7pm-10pm. A room full of French easels commonly crowds the room for one 3hr pose. The model will take a break several times during the session and return to the original pose until the session ends. Painting night is the most popular session at NDG, but the night is not just for painters. Other artists  choose to draw the model for 3hrs. Sculptors also enjoy the 3hr poses and have made appearances at the group as well.

The remaining Tuesday sessions of the month meet at 7pm-9:30pm. These drawing sessions usually start off with short warm-up poses. 1-5 minute poses. The model rotates and changes their position for each pose. Warm-up poses allow an artist to loosen up before the longer poses. You don’t have time to work on the details, so the form is established with quick strokes by most artists. The longer poses are 20-40 minute poses. Giving an artist time to mass out the form and even add details to their work.

A typical session consists of music and some possible banter during poses. If you’re an uptight individual, this group may not be for you. This group is very social and friendly, which makes it a great atmosphere for artists of all skill levels. The relaxed setting allows beginning artists to feel comfortable with the more skilled artists in the room. In this environment, it’s still possible to learn without any instruction. A diverse group of artists are present and an individual can witness many techniques at work. Some artists from the group are even willing to offer feedback to other artists or discuss their techniques.

In the last couple of years, the NDG has hosted community programs at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach and d’Art Center in Norfolk. Organizing family friendly model sessions. As of 2014, the NDG also started hosting workshops for local artists. An individual can learn from talented instructors in a small class setting. The first two workshops focused on painting the figure with oils. The success of these workshops could lead to more classes in the future.

The NDG has grown a lot since the group was first established over 15 years ago. The NDG has been run by different individuals over the years and many artists have come and gone. Stories of small sessions are still discussed  by older members of the group. Today’s average attendance for each session is about 20-25 artists on a regular night. The average attendance for a Painting night is about 30 artists.

The popularity and growth of the group seemed to surge during the Summer of 2006. A core group of individuals have run and maintained the group since then. I’ve personally been able to watch the group grow and I’ve participated in managing the group as well. By embracing social media and documenting each session, the attendance improved drastically. The NDG established a MySpace account and eventually transitioned to Facebook for daily group updates. A Flickr account was created so photos of each session could be viewed on-line. Flickr is a photo hosting website and over 24,000 photos from the group are currently on the site. After each pose, the work at the session is photographed and uploaded to Flickr later. The daily stats from the Flickr account are amazing. Thousands of people continue to view the photos every day. The NDG may be located in a small city, but is recognized by a large audience of artists and art lovers from around the world. The current record views on Flickr is over 11,000 views in one day.

If you would like to learn more about the group, I would highly recommend that you follow the NDG on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Norfolk-Drawing-Group/211671581320

The Facebook page is updated daily with photos, model schedules, possible cancellations/venue changes and workshop news. The “About” section explains everything that you need to know about the group and how to access all the photos on Flickr. Unfortunately, the photos on Flickr are moderated, so the “About” section provides directions on how you can view everything. If you’re not logged in and your viewing settings aren’t adjusted correctly, you’ll only see a few photos each week. Basic Flickr accounts are free though.

The Norfolk Drawing Group is a great source for artistic growth and I recommend the group to artists of any skill level. My own work has improved since I joined the group in 2006, and I’ve been able to explore many styles and techniques over the years. I’ve also watched the work of beginning artists drastically improve, just by attending the group on a regular basis. The NDG continues to house a lot of talented individuals and I’ve learned a lot from theses artists and established some long-lasting friendships. Surrounded by award winning artists, it’s hard not to feel inspired and you’ll want to push yourself. You’ll want to improve your work. If you want to connect and network with artists in the area, this is the group to join.

Devon Lawrence

Devon Photo

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