“Drawing from Life” by David Hockney


Art is the most extraordinary form of self-expression that allows looking deeply into the author’s world. It unveils the artist’s perception of self and worldview. The highest degree of introspection could be noticed in the exhibition Drawing from Life by David Hockney. In his collection, Hockney managed to present the whole life path of his closest friends and himself. The series of portraits show not only the development of Hockney’s artistic abilities but also narrates the author’s life and relationships in excruciating detail.

The Author

David Hockney is a painter, draftsman, and photographer from England. He was a significant contributor to the pop art movement and is, in general, considered one of the most influential British artists. In the exposition Drawing from Life, Hockney depicted himself and his closest friends. Even without knowing the artist in person, seeing his collection created a feeling of knowing him for a long time. The art itself is so sincere and retrospective that it shows the viewers who the author is and what he thinks of himself. His subjects are also portrayed in great detail and often nude to reflect all the sides of their personality and beauty. The author’s self-portraits appear to be especially scrutinized by his unforgivable self-inspection. He seems to be a realist from the exhibition – he sees himself getting older and is not disgusted to portray himself as he is. I was also astonished by the hard work of Hockney – he portrayed himself and his friends from his teenage years and continuously mastered his skills.

Hockney’s creative impulses seem to be a part of his personality and individuality. Despite being 83 years old, his works are cheeky, comic, and often controversial. However, even while being creative and ambiguous, Hockey is still serious in his artworks. His unusual worldview can describe the creative portrayal of his works. Hockney himself states that “I always think the world is full of variety, and it should be reflected in my art because I see it that way” (Hockney, 2020). Thus, the combination of his unique worldview and the pop art movement in the 1960s that he was a part of harmonically blended into Hockney’s style of portrayal.

The Relationships

The exposition was highly personal and told the story of Hockey’s life. However, Hockney was not the only subject of his Drawing from Life series. Four of his closes friends: Celia Birtwell, Gregory Evans, Maurice Payne, and his mother, Laura, were also portrayed and got plenty of room in the exhibition (Jones, 2020). They became a part of Hockney’s story since they accompanied him throughout his life. Each of the subjects had a unique influence on Hockney’s work style – from Birtwell’s romantic portrayal to aging Payne. These portraits became the type of diary of his friends and family that evolved with him.

Art Processes

Hockney managed to master various art techniques to portray his feelings and message. His insatiable curiosity created the foundation for creative outbursts with different artistic techniques. Among the processes artist used are colored pencil drawings, prints, ink, charcoal, composite Polaroid portraits, and etching (National Portrait Gallery, 2020). I loved the use of ink line drawings in his portraits since it added additional structure and sharpness to the facial features. Despite being one of the most usual art processes in the whole Hockey’s art assemblage, it remains the most truthfully portraying and gentle one, in my opinion.

Art has a unique ability to narrate the story of the subject and the artist in a visually beautiful way. Works of art may often tell more about the author and his relationships than the interviews or written notes since artwork allows for interpretation and creative expression. The exhibition Drawing from Life by David Hockney became one of the most impressive ones for me because of its sincerity, creativity, and unique story it tells.


Hockney, D. (2020). Drawing from Life. Morgan Library & Museum. New York, NY, United States. Web.

Jones, J. (2020). David Hockney: Drawing from Life review – stripping subjects down to their gym socks. The Guardian. Web.

National Portrait Gallery. (2020). David Hockney Drawing from Life. Web.