What Do I Need to Start a Life Drawing Class?


This blog gives you a checklist of what you need to start a life drawing class.

Here are the highlights:

  • Reliable participants to share costs
  • A heated venue
  • A Whatsapp group for admin
  • Skilled and experienced models
  • Simple equipment



How to Restart Life Drawing!

Although I’m a creative who loves drawing, last night found me drawing from life again after a break of… about 10 years.

The truth is that when you live in a rural area, life drawing is often something you need to sacrifice.

Logistically, it takes a reasonable size of group to pay for hiring a model and venue.

Additionally, life modelling is not just sitting around naked, it’s highly skilled and hard work.

Unfortunately, not every community has such persons.


It is Possible!

Here in Perthshire, professional artist Lauren Gentry, Creative Director of Scriberia – a visualization consultancy company was not letting such difficulties stop her. 

Perthshire contains a remarkable number of professional and skilled amateur artists and creatives, so despite being rural, she managed to gather the numbers she needed quickly.


Use This Blog to Start YOUR Life Drawing Class

Seeing this new class happen made me keen to share a checklist of what you need to start your own life drawing class.

Hopefully, you too can get one up and running in your area.

Let me know if you find this blog useful!


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    #01 How to Admin Your Life Drawing Class

    Start a WhatsApp group to communicate with all interested attendees.

    Do not ask who is attending each meeting in that thread: it quickly gets chaotic.

    Initially, Lauren started a Google Doc for folks to add their names under each date.

    Later she set up a simple website with Stripe payment link.


    #02 How to Choose A Venue for A Life Drawing Class

    • You will need a space which can be made entirely private, curtains over windows etc.
      It is important to respect the privacy of the model, who is volunteering to share his or her nude body with a group of artists – not anyone else.
    • The floor space needs to be large enough to have a prone figure on a mattress, with a circle of chairs or easels all around.
    • You need a venue that can be easily cleaned up, as drawing with charcoal, and using erasers all create a bit of dust and mess (no white carpets!)
    • The venue needs to be heated easily to a room temperature high enough to keep an inactive, naked figure warm.

    #03 What Equipment Will You Need?

    • Good lighting is key to good results.

    Photography lights are ideal. They highlight certain parts of the body and cast dark shadows on others.

    You can achieve similar results with domestic lamps – but be aware that neither the people drawing nor the model can be staring directly at them, which reduces the floor space you have to work in. (NB: Remember extension cords!)

    • The model will need a mattress and clean sheets to lie on.
    • (New models might need to be reminded to bring their own dressing gown for breaks).

    #04 How to Price Your Life Drawing Class

    • What is your venue hire cost?
    • What is your model cost?
    • Will you supply basic materials? (Lauren brought a massive pack of newsprint for quick charcoal sketches – which was very handy).
    • Are you teaching? or is it untutored? Remember to add the hourly rate of the tutor.

    Consider offering a low-price or tiered payment system to help community members (like high school students) who may not be able to access class otherwise.

    gown for breaks).

    #05 How to Find Models for Your Life Drawing Class

    Lauren found our models by contacting life drawing classes across Scotland.

    She has found 3 who will work in rotation (variety of body types are good).

    Expect to pay £20 -£40 per hour, plus travel.

      • Your model does not need to be nude, but it’s much better if they are.
      • Your model needs to be aware of their own body in space, like a dancer or actor.
      • Life models need personal strength to hold short, difficult poses and longer easier poses.


    #06 How to Manage Time in a Life Drawing Class

    • Best practice is to begin with rapid sketching with poses held for just one minute or two.This ‘warms up’ your drawing skills. It forces you to work quickly and reactively – and most importantly – not to be precious.
    • Typical classes often end in a longer pose but it depends what you (and the model) need.
    • Remember that even if the model is lying down, they might need a break.
    • It’s useful to both models and drawers to call out the remaining time that is left.
    • On longer poses, if the model is taking a break, mark with chalk or tape the position of the model’s limbs.
    • Our class enjoys playing music while drawing. It’s great for getting into the ‘zone’.


    Good Luck Starting Your Life Drawing Class!

    You might find my freebie:

    20 Mistakes to Avoid in Life Drawing useful too


    Further Information


    Check out our blog post: Life Drawing for Art School Portfolios.

    We can also give you tips if you have No Opportunity to Life Draw for Your Portfolio.