Life Drawing in the Bay Area – Part 2

For these next set of Bay Area Figure Drawing workshops, we’re going all the way to San Francisco for 2 open workshops and to Oakland for an all day figure marathon. I’ve organized them by day, but times and day may vary. Please contact the organizers for their current schedule.


San Francisco @ 23rd Street Studio
3747 23rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
Time: 6:30 – 9:30 pm (also available Monday afternoons, Sunday and Wednesdays)
Fee: $16

Having the day off for President’s day, I was itching to draw. I decided to make 45 mile drive up to San Francisco and draw at 23rd Street Studio, and it was well worth the drive. First, I corresponded with artist and organizer Michael Markowitz and was able to secure a drop-in slot.

The feeling I got upon entering Michael’s studio was a sense of awe and relief. The studio is well lit, well organized and well designed for drawing from the model. Having Michael’s beautiful and expressive figure drawings on the wall makes an inspiring background. The lighting set-up is exquisite and is by far the best lighting and room I have seen in the Bay Area. There was also a lot talent in the room that night which always raises everyone’s drawing level.

Overall I highly recommend Michael’s studio. It was an excellent environment for figure drawing and Michael is a great host. He even served homemade cakes and tea. The night I attended was Monday, but he also offers drop-in workshops on Sunday, Wednesday and Monday evening. Please contact Michael and sign up for his mailing list to get the latest schedule and updates.

The model was incredible, and the stage and lighting were excellent. What a night! 2 minute poses, 2/15/10, charcoal on paper.

5 minute pose, 2/15/10, charcoal on paper.

20 minute head drawing, 2/15/10, charcoal on paper.


San Franisco @ SOMArts Cultural Center
934 Brannan Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Time: 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM / Fee: $8

Having a free weekend means I’ve got time draw. I decided to spend a day in San Francisco and start my day at SOMArts. This workshop is one of the longest, ongoing workshops in S.F. The drawing room itself is medium size. Tables and horses are available. The only downside is the poor, ambient lighting.

Despite the lighting, I still recommend SOMArts. The group was very welcoming, the drop-in fee is low ($8), and it’s at a perfect time slot to start your day with a figure drawing session.

The lighting was ambient and was brutal to work with. Luckily I was able to squeeze out a few decent drawings. 5 min pose, 3/6/10, charcoal on paper.

20 minute head, 3/6/10, charcoal on paper. The lighting was really tough to work with, but still makes good practice.

SUNDAYS (Occurring Quarterly)

Oakland @ Merritt College
12500 Campus Drive, Art Bldg., Rm. A122, Oakland, CA
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM (event occurs quarterly)
Fee: $40 full day, $30 half-day/students/seniors

OK, where do I start? Having taking a year off of life drawing, you would think I would warm up gradually, but that wasn’t the case. I jumped right in to my first 6 hour(!) drawing marathon. This one happened to be the legendary Bay Area Models Guild quarterly marathon.

The room set up for this event is a huge converted warehouse. Which was a good thing because it was filled up with artists, and models on 4 stages. Thats right, 4 stages. One of the reasons why this event is so revered is the set-up of 4 stages, each of which are dedicated to a set time. One stage was 1-2 minute gestures, the second was 5-10 minute poses, the 3rd was 20 minute poses, and the fourth stage had 3 hour long pose. This made for an amazing experience and a visual feast for a ‘figure addict’, and for a lot of drawing variety.

There were a few horses, easels and chairs available. The only lighting was ambient daylight was the only downside. However, the excellence of the models at this event made up for this shortcoming.

Overall, I highly recommend the BAMG marathon and I will definitely plan to be there when it happens next in April.

5 min pose, 2/7/10, charcoal on paper. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Only my 3rd drawing session after taking a break of over 1 year.

2 – 5 min poses, 2/7/10, charcoal on paper. Like I said, lot of variety at the marathon.

2 min. poses, 2/7/10, charcoal on paper. I started my day at the gesture pose stage, but got a little burned out on gestures after a couple of hours. The rust is evident here…bleh.


If you are in the San Francisco area and would like to attend one of these workshops, please contact their organizers to confirm time and day. Once again, I would like thank Andrew Cahner of for his incredible directory of figure drawing workshops.

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6 thoughts on “Life Drawing in the Bay Area – Part 2”

  1. There are, but it depends on what you are looking for. As far as Reilly method or atelier style there isn’t anything for that. I’m planning to put classes and workshops together soon in south bay. Keep in touch.

  2. Looking for a Daytime beginning life drawing class near San Bruno under 400.00 for 10 sessions.
    Can a beginner go to the drop in classes at SOMA or the 23 st location in SF?

  3. unfortunately today all three of the places i draw on friday evenings are closed.
    mission cultural center
    the soup kitchen on portrero in sf and
    kroeber hall in berkeley, i dont find any drawing workshops listed for fridays, am i missing something here??? if i am not perhaps you could update your webpage
    sincerely terry

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