how old were you when you took life drawing classes? i really wanna take some but i feel like 17 might be too young. also, my art is kinda horrible compared to a lot of kids my age, and i dont want to have to share any of the art that i'll end up drawing in the class.
Hello! I started when I was fifteen, but my dad tried to get me to start when I was twelve, and in retrospect I’m like “yeah that’s totally reasonable” (it’s probably not, I’m mostly kidding, I worked at a school in 2013 and a girl that was a very strong drawer was asking me how she could improve and I was like “oh dude I work in the art department I’ll hook you up with life drawing classes I have the connections bro” and I went to see the head of art Austen and he was like “sas she’s thirteen what is wrong with you”) , so in short, no, I don’t think seventeen is too young at all.
Regarding sharing your art; it really depends what kind of class you go to. The first classes I took were all with a small group of my friends, so sharing our art was pretty much a given, everyone would run around gently abusing one another like “fuck you this is so good what the fuck you fucking nerd” or “i fucking love this colouring can you show me how you did that what the fuck i hate you”, and that was a lot of fun, and also very good for our art, we fed off and influenced and pushed one another to do better. A sharing environment is actually really useful, although it can be intimidating, and my situation was The Ideal, to be honest, because I was amongst friends.
However, since leaving high school and that class, I’ve begun taking classes in a public studio space, with thirty or more people I don’t know. It’s literally turn up, put $10 in a box, and draw. People are pretty quiet, and generally very respectful of one another’s work. It’s not common to walk about looking at everyone else’s stuff.
That class is unguided, however, other classes I’ve taken outside of my original class have had a teacher who guides the class more actively, giving tasks and advice, and they’ll usually encourage everyone to walk around and look at one another’s work. Again, those classes were with people I didn’t know, so they were pretty anonymous in the sense that I could walk away from my easel and stay away until people had moved back to their own. I’m hopeless when it comes to people talking about or looking at my art, I can’t deal with it. The most intensive class I took was one where the teacher used to make us turn our easels in and stand by them as she wandered around pointing out specific pieces and asking us to talk about them. A bit of a nightmare for me but overall very useful to my improvement.
My advice would be; find a class that has a structure that suits you. Community classes tend to be a little more anonymous, informal, and less likely to make you exhibit your work to anyone. If you take them within an academic sphere, ie. at your high school or at university, you’re more likely to find an environment that will actively encourage you to engage with others and discuss your work, which you might like to avoid. I will say this, though; I know it's super intimidating sharing your work sometimes, but it is a really good thing to do. Even if you don’t do it in the form of life drawing classes, I really recommend you share your work somewhere; whether with friends, in a class, or online. It’s a really valuable experience.