A cast drawing studio in a closet.
Now and then I have an online student who wants to do cast drawing at home. Most of these students do not have purpose-built studios in which to work. But the lack of a studio should not prevent you from coming up with something that will function. In a earlier series of articles I wrote about creating your own still life stand, shadow box, and a basement easel. With this article I am going even more minimalist, in the closet.
The space requirements for doing a Sight-Size cast are few, but they are important. The two biggest hurdles are in your ability to control the light source and your ability to stand far enough away in order to view both the cast and your drawing in one glance. Your hall closet may solve both these issues.
As you see in the images for this article, I have set up a demonstration cast drawing. On the right side of the back wall of the closet I have placed a screw into one of the studs (using a stud-finder to find the stud). That screw holds the cast, roughly at my eye level. Notice too that I have hung a plumb line from the closet rod. While I do not usually teach my students to use a plumb line like this (I prefer to have them hold it vertically themselves), I know that many ateliers do use one in this way. The closet rod works great for this aspect of the setup.
On the left side of the closet’s wall I have taped a sheet of drawing paper. My light source is a utility lamp, clamped to the split at the top of one of the bi-fold closet doors.
To the right (out of the photograph’s range) is a hall window. The closet acts like a large shadow box. Therefore, most of the light from that window is naturally blocked off. Had it still been an issue, I could have easily draped some dark cloth over the closed mini-blinds.
What was an issue was a reflection from the utility light reflecting off of the right-hand wall of the closet. You can see my solution, in the photograph below. I simply hung up my black wool coat. That was dark enough to block all of the reflected light.
A cast drawing studio in a closet, as seen from farther away.
The walls in our closets are painted smooth so I was able to tape the paper directly to the back wall. If your walls have a texture, you will need to first tack up sheet of smooth matt board. You would then tape your drawing paper to that.
Our closet system also has a series of wire shelves in it. The empty one on the right could easily be moved up a few inches, thereby allowing for the use of a self-standing cast or even a small still life setup.
Not seen in the photographs is that I can stand eight feet away from the drawing surface. For a drawing this size, a viewing position that was six feet back would have been plenty.