Life art is a specialized term for figure drawing. It is distinguished from figure drawing in general in that the artists work with a live model, and most often the model poses nude. Life art is the figure artist's version of plein air work for the landscape artist.
Probably the biggest challenge for the beginning life art artist is the time constraint. Typical poses might be as short as 15 seconds or as long as an hour. Short poses are known as 'gestures'. These gestures encourage the artist to find and represent the essence of the pose in a few lines. During longer poses, the artist has the opportunity to add detail, shading, and color.
Most life art artists use charcoal or pencil, but many also work directly in pastels and even wet media such as acrylic, watercolor, or oil.
It is hard to describe the energy the artist can find working directly with
a model. The human body is so expressive, able to communicate the slightest
nuance of emotion. The model and the artist develop a connection that can never
be possible when working with a photograph. Life art is a totally different kind of way to express one's self - either
as an artist or as a model.