Spring Street Strut

The wellspring of life drawing here in New York City can be found not within the stately walls of an historic art academy or expensive art and design school, but in a cramped basement in the SoHo district. I’ve mentioned it many times on this blog. It’s called Spring Studios, and it’s located, appropriately, on Spring Street. With open life drawing seven days a week, three sessions a day, Spring Studios is more than a drawing studio. It’s a place for artists of all generations and varying levels of expertise to converge, socialize, share laughs, gossip, and shoot off lots of wisecracks (it is New York after all).

Like most life drawing groups everywhere, Spring Studios requires no enrollment, no reservations, no prior art training. You just show up with paper, pencil, and your $14, pick your ideal spot, and draw away to your heart’s content, from an inspiring, professional art model. Spring Studios has some of the best in the city. Oh yeah, and I work there too. 🙂

I love posing at Spring Studios. I feel most like an art model there, if that makes any sense. It’s hard work, but gratifying. It’s the kind of place where models and artists intermingle freely and, in some cases, form solid friendships. Models, if they are popular, develop “followings” among the Spring Studios regulars, who will come down to draw just because one of their favorite models is posing for that session. They’re like our groupies.

For some reason, I pose really, really well down there. I suppose it’s because of the whole atmosphere; the intimacy, the book-lined walls, the shelves overflowing with anatomical props, the life drawings hanging on the walls, and, most importantly, the enthusiastic, responsive crowd. Plus Minerva, the director, respects the models a great deal and appreciates our hard work. But my favorite characteristic of Spring Studios is that it’s situated right above the number 6 Lexington subway line. If the model is sitting or lying down right on the platform, she can actually feel the train rumbling under her. Good vibrations!

Bruce Williams is a Spring Studios regular. Not only is he a wonderful artist, but he’s a great guy and friend of mine. Bruce was kind enough to send this image of a drawing he did of me down at Spring. I love it. It took place a couple of months ago and, if I remember correctly, it was one of those times I felt the “subway tremors”. But it wasn’t bad! This was a long pose, and the reverberations kept me from falling asleep. 😉

You can see more of Bruce’s drawings from Spring Studios at SabatheDog. And you can visit the great folks over at Bristol Life Drawing for terrific work from their life drawing group.

6 thoughts on “Spring Street Strut

  1. I enjoyed my ‘E’ visit to your life classes in NYC. It is some time since I went to a life class as such and it is time I went back. It is good practise in both senses of the word and makes for a better artist regardless of subject, type and style of work. One needs, I believe, to master the figure before turning to landscape or aeroplanes! Going back to it regularly is an important refresher.

    I find that classes have both good points and problems. It is wonderful to see and discuss other people’s work, everyone benefits from that. It is good to have the discipline imposed on one as far as pose is concerned by having to accept a difficult or less interesting spot.

    Especially for the sculptor it is wonderful if you can move around the model in adequate space both in the horizontal and vertical plane.

    I like the pencil, charcoal, pastel mediums as an aide memoir and training to observe accurately. Pencil especially is a quick way to reinforce an idea or expression. It is like practising one’s tennis serve. Not all sculptors draw with a pencil. Some cut it out altogether and sketch in clay, or in wire so drawing in three dimensional space.
    The only downside to life classes is when you want or have to do a specific pose that no one else wants. For a commission that demands a precise pose or body type the artist has to find their own model. Herein lies the problem of artists’ freedom, to feed the family or do their own thing and be dammed.

    It is interesting however, where there is a will there is a way; so I love the story of Barbara Hepworth : She remembers, that while the studios of her male contemporaries were almost austere, her own was a jumble of children, rocks, sculpture, trees, importunate flowers and washing.

    What a great model you are!

  2. artmodel says:

    Robert,

    Great to hear from you, friend! I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

    Without question, life drawing is fundamental beyond words, for artists of all types, just like you said. I know many sculptors that attend life drawing, along with painters, graphic designers (many of those), even photographers and mixed media/collage artists. There is enormous value in the act and practice of life drawing. Although I am not an artist myself, I hear from artists constantly that it is an invaluable tool which sharpens all other artistic skills. Not one person has ever expressed the attitude that life drawing was in any way a waste of time. And man is it challenging.

    You mentioned about getting, or not getting, one’s desired spot in the drawing studio. It’s a problem sometimes. Everything is on a first-come first-served basis. I’ve seen artists arrive a good 30 minutes early just to grab their spot! And there are artists who PREFER those tricky angles, with the severe foreshortening and all that. And then light becomes an issue too.

    Certainly, for complete freedom in model choice, setup, and pose, an artist’s best option is to hire his/her own model and work privately, which is an expense that’s not always practical. But in those choices you mentioned in your comments, there is no shame in feeding one’s family! In my humble opinion, it is the much better choice. Art will always find a way, even under less than ideal circumstances.

    Thanks for your terrific comments, Robert. And thanks also for saying that I’m a great model! You are too kind. 🙂

    Claudia

  3. Great blog! Your’s is certainly unique, and I will love being able to come and read the model’s perspective instead of just the artist’s (which is what is usually referenced most of the time).

    I will check in to see what you have to say from time to time!

    Take care!
    FD

  4. artmodel says:

    Hi Fitness Diva!

    So glad you stopped by. And thanks for your nice words. While I hope you enjoy your future visits to Museworthy, I think your blog will be of greater service to me than mine to you. My yoga practice has waned terribly in the past few weeks, and I will turn to you to get me back into shape and invigorate my fitness regimen. Need it for my work, for obvious reasons.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Claudia

  5. Chris Miller says:

    Wow – Bruce is good! And Spring Street Studios looks like the NYC version of Chicago’s Palette and Chisel — 3 model sessions a day / 7 days a week.
    (and for $35/month, you can go to all of them if you’ve got the time)

  6. artmodel says:

    Chris,

    Yes, Bruce is very, very good! I was so happy and excited to post his drawing.

    I’m aware of Palette and Chisel, by the way, through YOU! I’ve admired your work on the Barebrush site for quite some time. You may have seen me on there a few times as the subject of drawings by Jean Marcellino, Jon Rettich and several others.

    Every city and town should have a life drawing studio like Spring and Palette. They’re special places, aren’t they? Reasonable in cost, simple in structure, and the highlight of many peoples’ days, including models.

    So glad you found Museworthy, Chris! Thanks very much for posting comments. It’s great to have you here.

    Claudia

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