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The Catherine Mitchell Life Drawing Group


Practice life drawing on Waiheke Island

Olivier Duhamel

The Catherine Mitchell Life Drawing Group
is a very active drawing group which has been running continuously for over 30 years. 
This is an untutored drawing group, meaning that there is no teacher. But instructors are sometimes invited to demonstrate their technique. In this group there is a very determined drive for excellence alongside a very generous sharing of ideas, materials & techniques. Beginners most welcome.
Past members include some notable artists such as Jan Nigro whose iconic paintings of Waiheke are on permanent display in the foyer of the Waiheke Community Art Gallery.

What is life drawing?
This is the practice of drawing from the pose of a life model, as opposed to drawing from imagination, from a reference photo, a landscape or a still life. This is also sometimes called figure drawing. The model is generally “undraped”, meaning nude. Nudity has been a traditional subject in art throughout history and civilisations. Drawing the human figure in its natural form allows artists to explore and express various aspects of the human body, such as its proportions, anatomy, and gestures. Nudity can evoke different emotions and moods, and artists use it as a means to capture the essence of the human form. Life drawing used to be a mandatory subject in art schools, it was seen as the foundation necessary for further artistic exploration.

Peter Howard
Rod Thomas

We meet at the Catherine Mitchell Art Center at the top of Putiki Road in Ostend, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand
(20+) Catherine Mitchell Arts Centre Inc. | Auckland | Facebook

The drawing room can accommodate comfortably over 10 artists.

The group meets twice a week, every Monday evening from 6:30pm till 9pm, and every Wednesday morning form 9:30am till noon for a 2 1/2 hours session, with 5 to 10 artists attending each session.
Our members include a broad range of people from all generations, from professional full-time artists to passionate hobbyists, experienced devotees, and complete beginners, as well as young art students. This drawing group is often the only occasion forart students to experience the time-honoured practice of life drawing which is no longer taught in art schools.


The drawing room
Nicky Kukulka

Artists contribute $20 in cash at each session. In addition, there is a $40 yearly subscription fee to the Catherine Mitchell Art Center. These $40 gives access to all other activities at the Catherine Mitchell Art Center. This fee goes towards the maintenance costs of the building which we lease from Auckland City Council.

The drawing room
Agata Christi

How to join?
This is a drop-in group and there is no need to book in advance, just turn up.  We provide tables, chairs, easels, and a model. Artists must simply bring their favourite paper and media, such as pencil, charcoal, pastel, ink or watercolour. Poses vary from a few minutes to half an hour.

Lyndsay Meager
Life class, The Sydney Art School, 1931 by Harold Cazneaux

The first session of every month is a portrait drawing session.

The group organises a public exhibition every year in one of the Island’s commercial art galleries. The last show was held at [ s p a c e ] gallery in Oneroa. This regular exhibition is an opportunity for young artists to add a line on their CV, for members to sell their work, for the group to promote the Catherine Mitchell Art Center to the wider public and for collectors to acquire original artworks by some noteworthy Waiheke artists.

Mary Ferguson

There are not many rules, this is a rather informal and friendly group. Still, no photos are to be taken during the sessions. Please do not ask the model for permission and put the model in a position of having to make an instant decision. Artists can always approach the model for private modelling session.
Please arrive on time. Arriving late can disrupt the flow and concentration of model and artists. The model may not to be able to ascertain the identity of a late arrival.
Please refrain from directing the model. It can be confusing to receive conflicting directions from various people.


Martha Meyer

Interested in modelling?
Anyone from any age over 21 or any gender is welcome to model. We pay a typical fee to our models. Please do not see this as a career, just some easy pocket money every now and then.
The poses can be standing, sitting or reclining, from dynamic and expressive to more relaxed and contemplative.
One of the main qualities of a good model is the ability to remain still and focused during the pose. The longer the pose and the more difficult it is not to start moving. A good pose is therefore a compromise between the comfort of the model and the interest of the artist.  Poses go from a couple of minutes and up to half an hour. Model must be comfortable with nudity. It can be a bit intimidating at first but quickly becomes perfectly natural.

Paul Dashwood
Linda McKelvie

For more information
please contact Olivier Duhamel on olivieroduhamel@gmail.com

CMAC life drawing group is one of my special places, where artists of all levels (and the model) share in a trusting, and mutually supportive environment. The atmosphere is encouraging and very friendly. Long may it continue!
R.T.  (artist)

With a friendly and focused atmosphere, this group is the perfect place to practice your craft in an encouraging and open-minded setting. Mediums and styles are completely up to the artist which allows you to experiment with new and different techniques. 
On the other side of the easel, the modelling experience is one I would recommend. Everyone is very respectful, friendly, and talented. Seeing your body as art is an invaluable experience.
C.N. (artist and model)

This life drawing class is provided to a dedicated group of artists that go out of their way to ensure their life models are warm and comfortable during the modelling sessions. It has a casual and friendly atmosphere, and is a great experience to see your human form expressed as life drawings by such a talented group of local Waiheke artists.”
S.W. (model)

The drawers and painters are very respectful, I could choose the poses I wanted, some good music is playing in the background and sometimes we drink a little glass of wine during the pause which makes the evening very social.
Being drawn is a very interesting experience and I like the artistic complicity that the artists and I develop. We both influence each other. Myself, with body expression and them with their art, style and sensitivity. It is a collaboration beyond words.”
A.D. (model)

“I love being a model for the life drawing class! It has been very empowering and a wonderful challenge that has made me feel more beautiful in my skin. It’s also a very welcoming environment with talented and respectful artists.
M.B. (model)

Time passes differently during our drawing gatherings. While we listen to music and sip wine, the attention narrows completely to capture the impressions of the poses, the nude body bathed in contrasted light, time mercilessly breath down your neck. It’s indeed captivating and mesmerizing.”
A.C. (artist)

“I have been modeling for the life drawing group for over a year now and it has become a highlight of my week. I am very comfortable with nudity, but it is different to be put under a spot light and every inch of your body is looked at. That is a step out of the comfort zone I really like, and it is helping me feeling comfortable in my own skin. I feel honored seeing my body as a piece of art on the paper and it makes me proud being part of the creative process. Also the group makes it very easy for me to feel good within, as everyone treats each other with respect and warmth. And the most important to me is that I feel valued and appreciated as a model for the group.
A.H. (model)

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