Why Do Life Drawing?

Anyone can have fun drawing and benefit from the pleasure and challenges life drawing brings.

For art school candidates, life drawing is an important element in an art school portfolio because it is considered a ‘classic skill.’

Life drawing is difficult to do accurately. Such accuracy is a determiner if the candidate is ready for art school, because the ability to accurately draw is still the basis for entry to most art degrees.

This blog explores reasons to do life drawing for artists, art school candidates, and the curious.

Hint, it’s not just about accuracy!

Life Drawing Seen from the Outside

I’m conscious of all the baffled laypersons, who might be wondering why their partner wants to go and draw naked strangers.

They may be asking, why not draw fruit? Or why naked?

In short:

  • Drawing nudes is one way in which art school candidates are assessed. If someone is building a portfolio, they need it.
  • Life drawing is challenging.
  • Figure drawing is full of history and artistic traditions.
  • Drawing nudes is timeless.
  • Life drawing is thrilling and intense.


artists discussing life drawing

“Drawing from life offers an opportunity to better understand how the body looks and moves.

There’s a misconception that art and drawing is exclusively for the “gifted few”.

Drawing is for everyone; artists, designers, doctors, engineers and the generally curious.

Lauren Gentry, 2023

Drawing Live Figures Can Bring out YOUR Creative Voice/Identity.

In a room full of artists – everyone gets a different result. Everyone is interested in slightly different things, with all the abstract shadows and shapes – and the physicality of the body in front of you.

It’s genuinely thrilling.


    Remember, There’s More than One Way to Draw

    James Thurber‘s seal is a famous example of a drawing that is not accurate – but actually completely full of merit because of its lack of accuracy.

    In the New Yorker magazine meeting room, the seal sketch was rejected by the art department.

    An artist had helpfully added, “This is the way a seal’s whiskers go,” (with her own accompanying sketch).

    Staff writer E.B. White resubmitted the rejected drawing with the note, “This is the way a Thurber seal’s whiskers go”.

    White always saw huge charm in Thurber’s work, when his fellow artists saw only flaws. 

    Find out more about Thurber’s seal here.


    Don’t be your own worst critic.
    Even Thurber couldn’t see the qualities in his drawings for a long time.

    “Life drawing does not need to prioritise accuracy (although it often does).”


    “Drawing from life presents a wonderful live subject for you to explore, in many creative ways”.

    Ruth Pringle, 2023

    Art School Candidates

    Life drawing is one of several ways to show your skills in your application portfolio.

    Every portfolio will be assessed to see whether the candidate has the ‘technical*’ drawing skills required for art school.

    In this context, life drawing is quite a measurable skill, unlike other, more subjective portfolio content.

    Life drawing separates the draughtspeople who can copy well, from those who draw with personality, skill, or charm.

    Accuracy is not the ONLY way to asses drawn work in your portfolio, but it remains a priority for most art schools, particularly so for life drawing.

    Life Drawing Tips

    Get clarity on all aspects of life drawing, as we explore why accurate life drawing is important for art school applicants.

    Help yourself, with my ‘Life Drawing Mistakes to Avoid‘ checklist for art school candidates.

    I even offer a few portfolio workarounds if you have no access a model.

    Further Information

    Inspired by local artist Lauren Gentry, I share everything you need to help you set up your own life drawing group in How to Start Your Life Drawing Class.

    Discover more about Life Drawing in Art School Portfolios.