Dr. Sketchy’s: Life Drawing with Tesla Tease

Tesla Tease as Hermione at Dr. Sketchy's Philadelphia

Last week I managed to talk a friend into joining me for Dr. Sketchy’s in Philadelphia, and we had so much fun! If you’re not familiar with Dr. Sketchy’s, it’s a monthly evening of drawing live models that happens in cities all around the world. The theme is usually some kind of interesting burlesque superhero mashup, but this varies greatly depending on the model. Sketches are timed, starting with 5 minute sketches, then 10 minutes, and ending with two 20 minute sketches.

The model this month was Tesla Tease, and she started off the evening as Hermione Granger. She did three different poses. I loved the bookworm pose above most of all because it’s such an evocative one. She’s a convincing Hermione for sure, but she could also be any young woman curled up on the couch with a book. And although it seems simple enough, there are so many great details to work with here — the position of her fingers splayed out over the book cover, the angle of her legs, and the way her skirt falls to the side. And that couch! That couch is surely the bane of artists all across Philadelphia. I completely screwed up the design and ended up having to make the ornamentation even more elaborate to make up for my error.

A loose sketch of Hermione Granger with hands extended, holding a magic wand.

Next she came out as Wonder Woman, and the organizers of the event offered up the challenge that we should draw her and then add another superhero to the page. I went with Rocket Raccoon. This was a 10-minute sketch and the results aren’t great, but it’s better than I expected to manage in that amount of time.

Tesla Tease as Wonder Woman at Dr. Sketchy's

For the 20-minute poses, Tesla appeared as Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. With these sketches, we had the added bonus of a 10-minute break after each one when we could either relax and socialize, or continue working on our sketches without the model.

Daenerys Targaryen sits on a stone holding a dragon's egg in her hands, while a baby dragon hovers in the air near her shoulder.

After doing the sketch above, I now understand why the old masters focused so much on learning to draw volumes of draped cloth. All those wrinkles and folds, and the way the light falls on all of it…so freaking hard to get right! I think I might go back in and tweak a few things on this one – including the drapery.  But this one was a bit of a triumph for me in that I actually had time to go in and ink it during the break! Speed-sketching is a real challenge, even the longer 20-minute sessions, and I rarely manage to get something fully sketched out, much less inked.

One of my favorite poses was the one below. Tesla was fantastic for a lot of reasons, but the main one was that she chose poses which worked really well for the characters she was portraying, but which were also really relatable postures that any woman might adopt. And better still, they appeared simple, but there were always small details that added a whole layer of complexity to explore, especially with her hands. These details were not only more interesting to draw — they created a scene (and hopefully a drawing) that told more of a story.

Daenerys Targaryen lounges thoughtfully on a couch, examining a lock of her hair.

Lounging there, examining a lock of her own hair thoughtfully — what is she thinking? What plans are unfolding in her mind? What empires may rise or fall with the turn of her thoughts? I only just started inking this one before running out of time, but I like it, and I might return to it and finish it up.

Interested in trying out live sketching yourself, and in meeting other local artists? Find a Dr. Sketchy’s near you. And if there isn’t one, consider starting one yourself. You could be at the epicenter of a whole new community of artists!