Entering Anna Rank’s life drawing class at the Guillermo Roux centre is admittedly an intimidating experience. Walking into a group of well-trained students setting up their drawing boards while the an intense discussion about the placement of light takes place might be enough to scare any hopeful beginner away.
However, the Guillermo Roux centre offers life drawing classes for all levels: although this particular class is for students of a high standard, there are four different levels of life drawing available, which may come as a relief.
Trained in Fine Art, Rank, who studied art at Parsons in New York, follows the Uruguayan artist Torres García’s constructionalist method of life drawing.
Instead of focusing on the characteristics of the model, the importance here is laid on ensuring the accuracy of the proportions of her body. The method is highly precise, which means that a huge amount of concentration and precision is needed.
As soon as the class begins, it’s obvious this is not supposed to be an intimidating environment, but rather an intimate class where students are encouraged and pushed by their teacher. Rank is soft-spoken, friendly and incredbily welcoming. Music plays softly in the background and students occassionally talk, though for the most part there is an atmosphere of intense concentration while students focus on their work and the form and shape of their drawing.
Unlike many life-drawing classes where the poses are developed by the model with only a fraction of student input, suggestions and questions are welcome, and almost necessary. The pose for this evening is discussed extensively, with the model changing positions at least three times before one is agreed on by all the students from the indivdual angles.
The time is fully dedicated to mastering just one pose – students are encouraged to take their time and really consider what they’re drawing.
That’s because this class is just the first stage in a longer process using this pose. After the first step of drawing is complete, the students take three more classes to paint their work, meaning that students, with Rank’s guidance, need to make sure each drawing is perfectly proportioned at this point.
As life drawing is a class taught with a small amount of direct instruction, the uniquely relaxed atmosphere and lack of discussion is actually soothing. Focusing solely on dimensions, proportions and body parts removes you from thoughts of the hectic every day life that living in Buenos Aires can sometimes entail, providing an almost therapeutic few hours. Left with your own thoughts, a life drawing class simply lets you zone out and get a little creative, while doing something a litle different.
Rank is a hands-on teacher, offering support and guidance whenever it’s needed, without being invasive. She’ll mostly stand back, but occassionally add a new shape or line to students’ work, showing them how it could be better. Although this is a higher level class, I get the impression that in a lower level class, Rank’s approach would provide a reassuring guide for life drawing beginners.
Even if art may is not your thing, Rank’s classes provide a period of peace, calm and catharsis, alongside an excellent teaching atmosphere. No matter what your skill level is, these classes will undoubtedly offer you something.