Southside LIFE Drawing

Southside LIFE2

Alison Johnston


Whether you’re doodle daft or a working artist, life drawing classes can provide an outlet.

Life drawing’s prehistoric roots can be traced in caves around the world. However, as the practice evolved throughout the centuries, it became an art school staple. This trend was largely set by the Carracci family, in the 1580s, as they led the Accademia degli Incamminati in Bologna (Italy). This art school had its pupils first copy human form engravings; then plaster casts, before finally letting them draw a live model.

This strict approach has mellowed through the years and life drawing has returned to the masses. It is now estimated (by the Register of Artists’ Models) there are over 2000 life drawing employers in the UK; with many classes in residential venues. One such class is Glasgow Southside LIFE drawing.

LIFE drawing tutor, Alison Johnston said: “I started Southside LIFE Drawing two years ago after the class I had attended stopped. All the drawing classes I enquired about were in the city centre, and as a single mum I couldn’t find the time to travel to and fro. I therefore decided to start up my own class this side of the river.”

Johnston, a GSA graduate and qualified teacher, has since been running classes fortnightly on Tuesdays (7 to 9pm) in Argosy Bar function suite.

The suite is set with background music, tables, and chairs.

Johnston said: “It’s a very relaxed class. I play chilled out music and there’s a little break half way through when people chat and nosey at one another’s work.  There’s also the opportunity to bring a wee drink up from the bar downstairs.

“The suite has plenty of tables, but students can bring an easel if they prefer. There is lots of room and, unlike other classes, you don’t have to fight to get a good view of the model.”

The open atmosphere is furthered by LIFE drawing’s diverse mix of students.

Johnston explained: “The class is very mixed in gender, age and ability. I have people who haven’t drawn since school, mixing with secondary school students, and very competent and working artists. The class is open to everyone.”

Classes are £10  and £7 for students (in education). Beginners can join with just a sketchbook and drawing implement. Usually extra paper and materials are also on hand, for those who fancy variety.

Johnston said: “Beginners need not worry as I’m there to give advice and help out where I can.”

“Life drawing is a fantastic way to relax! I find time disappears really fast when drawing.

“The common misconception is its sleazy; it’s nothing like that at all. I have a fantastic group of very professional life models who are posed in various positions – either standing, seated or reclining.”

Sessions usually start with several brief sketches, before going on to more in depth poses, and usually concluding in two half hour poses.

Students can build upon their skills by attending multiple classes, but Johnston explained, block bookings are not mandatory.

She said: “I’m aware sometimes students can’t attend every week due to other commitments, but they can keep abreast of all the latest session dates through the group’s Facebook page.”

The Southside LIFE drawing Facebook page also offers pictures of the student’s sketches and answers to their queries.

Johnston concluded: “Lots of people say life drawing is something they have thought about trying; so why not come along and try it for yourself? It is open to all and can be a great new skill.”


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