Art, much like the naked body, has been known to take itself too seriously. The remedy? Sometimes they both can benefit from being in a relaxed environment more concerned with communication than instruction. We've compiled a list of 10 art galleries, workshops, centers and groups in the L.A. area where you can draw nude models for fun, not for critique.
10. Avenue 50
Since 2002, the Avenue 50 studio in Highland Park — like many of Los Angeles' neighborhood art studios and galleries — opens up its space for inviting nights of no-pressure sketching sessions. Every Tuesday night, novice and expert artists come for figure drawing workshops that start with two-minute and end with 25-minute poses. Participants are asked for a suggested donation of $12 a session.131 N. Ave. 50, Highland Park., (323) 258-1435, www.Avenue50studio.com.
9. Barnsdall Art Center
If the Barnsdall Art Park can lay claim to Frank Lloyd Wright's mastery of architecture with the Hollyhock House, can't it also be home to your mastery of the human form? The park's Barnsdall Art Center offers uninstructed life drawing workshops at $100 a pop on every day of the week except Sunday. 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz, (323) 660-4254, www.barnsdall.org.
8. Dr. Sketchy's
Dr. Sketchy's, the famed “anti-art school” figure drawing workshops that were started by an art school dropout in a dive bar in Brooklyn in 2005, has events at sometimes unexpected locations across the world. The Los Angeles-area events are organized by book publishers and events company Baby Tattoo Books and have a focus on the creative with a bit of boudoir. Events happen the first Tuesday of every month at Titmouse animation studio in Hollywood — except for January's event, which will be on January 8. Entry fees are $15 for those who book online and $20 at the door. www.drsketchys.com.
7. Drawing Parties
What's classier than a strip club and more intimate than a public figure drawing class or function? Jenn Eldridge Hansen's private Drawing Party events, which are run out of the ArtWorks Studios in Larchmont and Culver City, started as a creative spin on girls' nights out, with drinks, dinner and the art of the male form. They've since expanded to include female models and also offer “Date Night” Drawing Parties for couples. Prices start at $75 a person, plus tips ($60 for groups of six or more) and include instruction and supplies. www.drawingparty.com.
6. El Camino College
For about 10 years, Michael VanOverbeck has run his Life Painting and Life Drawing Marathons at El Camino College. Usually held on the last Sunday of the month, the events take over two studios — one for quick poses, the other offering one all-day pose — and are open to anyone 18 or over, regardless of skill level. Prices are $20 a session, plus a $5 material and classes start up again in 2013. 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, www.eccomunityed.com.
5. Gallery Girls
Jennifer Fabos Patton's figure model group is what you'd expect if Bettie Page stuck her finger in a light socket while perfecting those bangs. The models-for-hire have posed for some of the groups on this list, but they also partner with other spaces to hold their own events, such as their late-night drawing sessions the first Friday of the month at Gallery Godo and the third Thursday of the month at The Gnomon Workshop. Twice a year, they also host Turkish Delights, featuring three stages with models posing, a hookah lounge, photo booth, belly dancers and, of course, Turkish coffee. Fabos Patton's latest venture is Art Brunch, held the first Sunday of the month at the Kline Academy. Catering to painters and sculptures as well as sketchers, the event showcases nude models holding pose for four hours. Check GalleryGirls.org for more details about these and other events.
4. Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art
As the name suggests, the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys is well-versed in the subject of drawing the human form. The course catalog covers everything from figure sketching to figure drawing and anatomy — as well as even imaginative animal design and drawing — with varying sessions and prices. To get a better idea of the offerings, there's the unlimited uninstructed workshop pass that covers six days and uninstructed workshops in figure and costumed drawing for $205. 16926 Saticoy Street, Van Nuys, (818) 708-9232, laafa.org.
3. People Sketchers
For around 30 year, People Sketchers has held workshop sessions that feature both male and female models in various stages of undress. Currently held Thursdays at the Hillcrest Center for the Art in Thousand Oaks, the unrestricted, all-levels classes accepts drop ins and are available for $15 at the door. Hillcrest Center for the Art, Thousand Oaks, (805) 381-2747.
2. Santa Monica YWCA
Just about every Tuesday night, professional artists and those who are still honing their skills join coordinator Dan Horowitz in a well-mirrored gym at the Santa Monica YWCA for uninstructed male and female figuring drawing and to network with other artists. Students of all ages (and genders) are welcome, although those under 18 must submit a parent waiver. Single sessions start at $12 a piece for non-members ($8 for students) and packages of four are also available. 2019 14th St. Santa Monica, (310) 452-3881, www.smywca.org.
1. Tom of Finland
For something more on the (only) male and (sometimes) erotic side, local figurative painter and muralist Miguel Angel Reyes offers monthly live model figure drawing and painting workshops at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Echo Park. Artists of all levels are welcome and a DJ spinning tunes in the background can help take the edge off of newcomers. RSVPs are required and it's suggested that participants pay $25 at the door. 1421 Laveta Ter., Echo Park, (213) 250-1685, www.tomoffinlandfoundation.org.