Life-drawing fits very well in any or all of the three components in the new DP visual arts course, so I’m re-visiting the concept and suggesting some possible links to the new course

  • As a comparative study – artists of course have been working from the human form for hundreds if not thousands of years, so for example students could examine and compare artworks, objects or artefacts with the theme of the human figure “at least two of which need to be by different artists. The works selected for comparison and analysis should come from differing cultural contexts”.
  • Drawing is process and such drawings/paintings etc could demonstrate “sustained experimentation and manipulation of a range of skills, techniques and processes”: a series of life drawings would be a great demonstration of skill development in the Process Portfolio.2
  • For the exhibition, a finished ‘outcome’ – in the sense of a fully resolved final artwork deriving from nude studies – could fit very well as part of the final art exhibition, showing “evidence of their technical accomplishment during the visual arts course and an understanding of the use of materials, ideas and practices to realize their intentions”.

It could also, of course, be part of a theme and so tie into the ‘coherence’ assessment criterion.

But for some schools its not easy to have nudes in school. Five years ago – in March 2010 – I posted a brief blog entitled “THE SHOCK OF THE NUDE


At that time, I noted that not every school art department is able to offer life (or figure) drawing classes for its students, for a variety of reasons.

Some schools are located in countries where the culture prohibits (or ‘frowns on’) nudity, and even if the culture of the country permits it, some art departments have to contend with a conservative administration and/or parent body. Then there is the financial side – not all budgets are sufficiently generous to pay for the services of a life-drawing model”.

I lead teacher workshops and sometimes teacher participants stay in touch with occasional questions or updates on their location etc. A participant from a 2014 workshop (teaching in Barcelona) reminded me of this 2010 post when she asked,

“I want to have nude model for my students as a non-compulsory activity after school hours, because they are very interested in human figure. Of course, as they are under 18, I’ll ask permission to the parents… but I need my principal’s permission and he’s OK with it, as long as other schools have it. Please, could you confirm if you have nude models come into the Art classroom?

The writer also posted the same question on the OCC.

In my school we have two full day sessions every year for all DP visual arts students (so they miss all their other classes on those days) – see photos.

We have been doing this annually for about 10 years, so it’s a sobering reminder that for many teachers and schools it’s not so easy.

And perhaps for some it’s not worth the struggle because they question the value of working from the nude.

If you are interested in exploring life drawing I have also assembled some useful resources – mostly books, with one DVD and some links to videos on YouTube.

The images shown are drawings/paintings completed by my students.


Possible Life Drawing Resources

  • These resources are all available through Amazon online, but of course, there are many other access opportunities.
  • I have acquired some of them from Amazon and have included details (price in GBP etc) from this site.


The Nude in Art with Tim Marlow [DVD]

Phil Grabsky (Director)

Price: £10.95

The Nude Hardcover – (1956 – a classic!)

by Kenneth Clark  (Author), Charles Saumarez Smith (Introduction)

Hardcover from £16.50

Paperback from £3.12

 The History of the Nude Paperback – 4 Mar 2013

by Flaminio Gualdoni  (Author)

Paperback £19.95

The Naked Nude Hardcover – 8 Oct 2012

by Frances Borzello  (Author)

Hardcover £22.40

Egon Schiele Paperback – 31 Oct 2014

by Barnaby Wright (Author)

Paperback £20.10

The Body in Contemporary Art (World of Art) Paperback – 28 Sep 2009

by Sally O’Reilly  (Author)

Paperback £7.96

Anatomy for the Artist Hardcover – 28 Sep 2001

by Sarah Simblet  (Author)

Hardcover £19.99

Expressive Figure Drawing Paperback – 7 Feb 2011

by Bill Buchman  (Author)

Paperback £17.99

There are many free resources on the Internet of course – for example many videos on YouTube