Figure Drawing

Gesture figures study done in soft pencil on paper.
Gesture figures study done in soft pencil on paper.

Want to draw more human figures from life? Here's a list of some figure drawing co-ops, and one portrait co-op in and around the Twin Cities. These are all unguided drawing opportunities (no teacher). This is the information I've collected as February 2016. I haven't been to all of them so can't vouch for their awesomeness or lack thereof. At the very least this list can act as a starting point for folks looking for places to study the human figure. Be sure to check out their sites for information about location, if equipment is supplied or not, and anything else of interest to you.

Banfill-Locke Art Center in Fridley
When: Wednesdays 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Cost: around $10 per session
Here's a link to the February calendar
Here's a link to a description

MCAD in Minneapolis
When: Mondays 7:00 - 9:00 pm, or Sundays 1:00 - 5:00 pm
Cost: varies but as of this post it's generally under $10 pr session
I've been to this in the past. It's pretty good. Read more about it and see their price list on the MCAD site

The Art Academy in St. Paul
When: Sunday Nights 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Cost: $10 per session
The Sunday co-op is with the nude figure and every 3rd Sunday of the month they have a costumed figure.

Florence Hill Drawing Co-op Studio 103, NE Minneapolis
When: Every Sunday, 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Cost: $7-$10
California Building, 2205 California St. NE, Studio 103, Minneapolis, MN 55418
I've been to this one in the past. It's pretty good and there are a lot of regulars. Florence is very welcoming.

Portrait Co-op (ran by Frank Wetzle and Tom Wolfe)
When: Saturdays 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Cost: $10
I've been to this in the past. It's pretty good. Frank is a friendly guy and takes time to adjust the pose for the lighting to describe the face. Same studio as Florence Hill's co-op, Studio 103 in the California Building. You can email Frank for more information:
Frank Wetzel

Saturday Long Pose Figure Co-op
When: third Satruday of each month, 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Cost: $10
This is organized by Tom Wolfe and takes place in the same studio as Florence Hill's co-op, and Frank's portrait co-op, Studio 103 in the California Building. You can contact Tom for more information and to be added to his mailing list for the the long pose sessions:
Tom Wolfe

Minnesota Figure Study Collaborative @ The Traffic Zone
When: It appears to be every Wednesday. They have a morning session and an afternoon session.
Cost: $18 - $165 depending on if you just drop in or subscribe for a full 10 weeks. You can check out their site for more information.

The 331 Club hosts the Dr. Sketchy's Minneapolis branch
When: every 4th Sunday of the month
Cost: $10, tips welcome
This one will not be for everyone's comfort level. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this it's a combination of burlesque performance and drawing co-op. As they put it "Dr. Sketchy's is what happens when cabaret meets art school". Learn more about it on their page (note, possibly not safe for work, depending on your work).

GPS Figure Drawing Salon
When: third Monday of every month. The next one is Mon Feb 15, 2016, 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Cost: $5-$10
The GPS Arts Initiative holds a monthly 3-hour Figure Drawing Salon the 3rd Monday of every month in the Event Horizon classroom (106A). The session includes short, medium and long poses. . RSVP to the event on Meetup for updates (e.g. weather cancellations) from the organizer and to get the address. I've been to this one and it's small but the organizer does a pretty good job of using the space. GPS stands for Geek Partnership Society.

1121 Jackson St. NE #106A, Minneapolis, MN
The Waterbury Building Room 106A
Minneapolis, MN

For questions email

On your computer
When: whenever you want
Cost: a small donation if you're so inclined
Personally I don't think anything beats studying from life but sometimes a person just can't. This site is a pretty handy resource if you can't make it to a co-op. The photos are pretty good though there is some distortion to some of the figures so watch out for proportions when drawing.

rough idea, thumbnail sketch by christine mitzuk, for the boy who drew catsHere's a look at the tools of gesture drawing applied to a picture instead of isolated at the drawing co-op.

I love it when the gesture in the thumbnail version conveys the idea I'm trying to communicate. Sometimes it gets lost along the way and I have to find it again.





Ipencil drawing by christine mitzuk of boy who drew cats had an idea in my head of how I wanted the figure to behave so I tried to get the model to pose in the same way. It ended up looking stiff and not convincing. He looks like he's propping himself up to draw, which is what I wanted, but compared to the thumbnail he's not deeply engaged in his practice of drawing.  it looks very static. He has windmill limbs. All the limbs are moving outwards in different directions from a somewhat central point. They break the overall flow.



I went back to the drawing board and tried a few other poses. I was hunting for flow, real anatomy, and the sense that he's stabilizing himself with the lower arm. There's the other trip up. I was trying to make it look "real" instead of believable. I was getting lost in showing tangible facts, instead of the emotion. Back to the drawing board. Here are a few I tried.

pencil drawing by christine mitzuk of boy who drew cats

Upper left - Has an interesting overall flow but he doesn't look deeply lost in drawing. It also feels like he's straining. My neck hurts looking at it.

Right - Has a feeling that he's engaged in drawing with the forward lean but we're back to windmill limbs.

Lower left - Better. There's forward momentum. There's flow and it feels believable but there's still a bit of windmill going on. It also gives the sense that he's straining a bit to sit up and draw.


pencil drawing and final painting by christine mitzuk of boy who drew cats

For the final image I tried to downplay the windmill limbs and increase the magic moment with value.

Trying to pose the model the way I imagine the character rarely works because it's either physically impossible or just doesn't feel natural. It seems to work pretty well to have the model explore the fluidity of the pose, to let them play the character. Ultimately the image ends up being a blend of the rough sketch and information from photos, of emotion and form.

New pencil figure drawing!

This is a study I did during the Costumed Figure Class I teach at The Atelier.

Study of a woman in a fancy dress, with a flower in her hair.
Pencil on bristol board, approximately 7"x11".
Why the bargain bin pricing? I really like how the drawing turned out but there are 2 small puncture holes in the upper right corner.



:: Classes 2014 - 2015 ::
Fall/Winter classes will be starting soon. I will be teaching 3 again at The Atelier.  The Atelier Studio Program of Fine Art is a friendly little traditional art school located in Northeast Minneapolis, MN (a bit on the outskirts of Dinky Town). The school is on the second floor of a red brick warehouse on the corner of Stinson Blvd. and East Hennepin Ave. Off-street parking is available.

Gesture figures study done in soft pencil on paper.
Gesture figures study done in soft pencil on paper.

Gestural Figure Study
Gain a better understanding of gesture of the figure. This class will mesh The Atelier and Studio Arts figure study methods. Students will explore what gesture is and ways to capture it through quick poses, progressively longer poses, and experimentation. Materials list will be supplied upon registration. Beginners welcome.

Fall class starts TUESDAY Sept. 16, 4:15 - 6:45 PM, $230, 15 weeks.
Winter class starts TUESDAY Jan. 20, 4:15 - 6:45 PM, $230, 15 weeks.



Illustration ClassIllustration
Stretch your imagination! During this class, students will develop imaginative pieces based upon a story or individual ideas. We will move from idea generation to preparatory work and on to final art. Emphasis will be placed on composition, and storytelling. Students may choose to work in the medium with which they are comfortable. Christine has experience to support watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, or oil paint.

Fall class Starts Thursday Sept. 18, 7:00 - 9:30 PM, $210, 15 weeks.
Winter class starts Thursday Jan. 22, 7:00 - 9:30 PM, $210, 15 weeks.



portrait class at the atelier in minnesotaPortrait and Interior
Students draw in charcoal and may progress to oil or pastels. The portrait model will be set within an interior. Advanced students can take advantage of the entire composition. Capturing the likeness is emphasized. Color and techniques in oil and pastel are covered. Instructors: Christine Mitzuk (Tuesdays) & Laura Tundel (Thursdays).

Fall classes starts Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
or Thursday, Sept. 18, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
(Thurs.) $230, 15 weeks.

Winter classes starts Tuesday Jan. 20, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
or Thursday, Jan. 22, 7:00 - 9:30 PM