What to expect at a figure drawing session

What to expect at a figure drawing session

So you are getting back into drawing or this is your first time, congrats!! You might be wondering "what do I need to bring?!" or "what can I expect?" This is totally normal and hopefully this list will help you out.

Here is a list of essentials to bring and what to expect when attending most figure drawing sessions.

Bring your own materials and easel.

  • You do not need to spend all the money on art supplies but you do need to bring the basics (see a list below).

    Bring a professional attitude.

    • Models are doing us an incredible service by posing for us. This isn't the time to gawk or make comments about someone's body. There is absolutely NO photography of any kind allowed without consent from the model.
    • Tipping the model is not expected but much appreciated!

      Being late is not a big deal (nor is leaving early).

      •  Most sessions are super chill. Come when you can and peace when you want.

        Chatting while drawing is not really appreciated.

        • It's a time to study and for a lot of people, it's a time to decompress and chill out after a long day. We take breaks and that is the time to chat with fellow artists.

        If you're gonna be messy (use wet media) bring a tarp!


          • A cheap sketchbook or newspaper pad for drawing (you seriously do not need to go overboard here with expensive or fancy paper). Personally, I'm all about a 9x12 spiral bound sketchbook so I have space to draw but I can also fit it in a book bag.
          • Graphite pencils (a 2H, HB, 3B are good to start with. I do light drawings with 2H then stronger lines and shading with HB and 3B) 
          • A kneaded eraser
          • A little cheap hand sharpener  
          • Fancy option: Grab a drawing board and a portable easel! (Someone brought this one from Amazon that was literally $20 and it seemed great!) When you come to a session you will see all the cool things that people bring and during breaks folks are MORE than happy to talk about their supplies and what they like/why. Some people use charcoal, others pastel and more!
          Resources for Drawing Classes

          Resources for Drawing Classes

          I got some great questions about drawing classes. Those are not my area of expertise but I've made a list of places that you can start your own search. If you have anything you want to add, let me know. Note: I haven't personally tried each of these classes and cannot speak to what artists they might work best for. Please reach out to these places and do research to make sure it's a good fit!
          • Elizabeth Castonguay's Affordable Saturday Morning Life Drawing Classes are located in the The Highline, (333 East Carson Street, Suite 48—formerly the Riverwalk) in the Southside from 9AM until noon. The classes focus on figure drawing (undraped and partially draped models). 8-week sessions are $168 which is $21 / class. Email emcstudio@comcast.net or text/call 412-913-6628 to reserve a spot and find out more information!
          • OSHER Classes are offered for non-degree seeking students at both University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon (check your local university to see if they offer them there). They aren't just for retired people! I've taken an OSHER class at 35 years old. They are during the day, they are not free, and getting into the OSHER program can have a wait so take those things into consideration.
          • Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media has regular figure drawing classes. Check out their website for more info. They aren't available every season. I've taken one with Heather Heitzenrater and she was phenomenal. I really enjoyed my experience even though I have figure drawing experience.
          • Private Lessons are always an option! If you know a local artist that does something that you want to learn—offer to pay them for their time to show you!
          • North Hills Art Center; ArtSmiths Pittsburgh; South Arts Center are all places that I've heard up but have absolutely no experience with. Feel free to do a quick Google search and see if they fit your needs!
          • Sweetwater Center for the Arts sweetwaterartcenter.org
          List of Figure Drawing in Pittsburgh!

          List of Figure Drawing in Pittsburgh!

          Here is a semi-exhaustive list of figure drawing sessions in the Pittsburgh metro area! This does not include drawing classes which are different.