And after attending one of Miguel Angel Reyes’ nude figure drawing workshops at the Tom of Finland Foundation, you will too
Long before Grindr, Scruff, Snapchat, and that leaked Cheyenne Jackson video, there was erotic art—skilled hands and sharp eyes that captured every detail of the naked human body.
Artists like L.A.’s very own Miguel Angel Reyes keeps this traditional art form alive in his own work at the Tom of Finland Foundation’s monthly Life Drawing Workshops: Nude Figure Drawing and Painting. Held as part of the Foundation’s second Sundays event in Echo Park, the three-hour workshop welcomes all levels, whether you’re looking to hone your art skills or experiment with a pencil. You’ll be under Reyes’ gentle wing, himself a former workshop attendee before he took over as coordinator nearly 10 years ago.
As a drawing teacher at Otis College of Arts and Design, Reyes knows how important a supportive environment can be. “I used to curate exhibits in the past, right after college. Little by little I would put groups of artists together on my own,” he says. “After that I found Tom of Finland, so I started going to their workshops.”
Between teaching and personal projects like preparing for his next exhibit, Reyes also does commissioned portraits, either in person or via Skype. “I usually have about a one-hour session with the model, where I do three-to-five-minute poses and have them hold it,” he says. “And I’ll do an initial sketch, which is just like a gesture, or sometimes it’s more realistic. Then I take a photograph of the model and use that to finish the details—to go over the coloring and such.”
Finding the right faces and figures around the world takes a bit of searching on Reyes’ part, but the internet has made that process a lot easier. “I find models a few ways,” he says. “I do it through Facebook; I’ve done it through websites, like Model Mayhem. I just look for images I like, and I ask them. One out of 50 or so will say yes.”
With subjects from all around the world included in his portfolio, Reyes’ portraits are colorful and diverse. Although he doesn’t go out of his way to seek out tattooed models, he’s definitely worked with his fair share.
“I draw almost every day, and I draw hundreds of people,” he says. “I don’t particularly look for people with tattoos. I find it a little more challenging, but I do like to do it. When you do a drawing, you have to simplify; you can’t do every detail. So I mostly concentrate on the portrait, and the tattoos are more background.”
Reyes is currently working on his next exhibit, which will be based off photographs he has taken at events and parties. “They’re photos I’ve collected over the years. I’ll take some of them and enlarge them and turn them into paintings or drawings—the ones that speak to me; the ones that I think have all the elements of a good piece of art. It’s always about design—how the figures are on the page, how they play together. They have to kind of flow, invoke a mood. They don’t have to be shocking.”
Reyes smiles, acknowledging that of course it’s the shocking images that are more fun.
Tom of Finland Foundation’s next nude figure Drawing Workshop will take place on March 8 at TOM House.