I am an Irish artist. I live in West Wicklow. These days I work in a representational mode, and my main subject is the nude figure, working directly from the life model. I also do portraits and still lifes, and when I can, I like to do sculpture.
The nude figure has an existential quality: we cannot but identify with her (or him) and she (or he) can express our fears, our joy, our energy, our vulnerability, our fears, our sexuality: she (or he) expresses our relationship with the world around us in a mysterious way.
Representational drawing is an act of war on the brain's normal visual processing: we succeed to the extent that we can subvert the brain's visual system. In normal everyday looking the brain, without our noticing it, takes the flat peculiar shapes projected on our retinas and transforms them into something three-dimensional and familiar. When we draw, we're trying to recover those flat peculiar shapes, and it takes a lot of practice and a few clever tricks to achieve this feat! Funnily enough, it is precisely this subversion which is required to make a drawing look "real"! Because we are more sensitive to the forms of the human body than anything else, life drawing is the most challenging form of this war!
It's expensive to employ a life model to work just for you, but I've done that from time to time. More often I work together with a group of other artists sharing the same life model, either at the RHA or less formally with other groups, agreeing what the pose will be and how long it will last.
These life drawing sessions are a very special experience, partly because for most artists working on art is a very solitary thing. It's always fascinating to see how differently each artist responds to the same pose. There is also the intense quiet collective concentration, a very powerful thing when you experience it, like a group meditation, peaceful and gentle, yet grippingly intense. Many of the models we work with value this intensity too. On the other hand I think it actually disturbs some people (artists or models) who want to chat or play music and dispel the intensity. (Boo!) I do my best to resist this tendency.