Get outside while you can!
My fabulous UW Drama class got off to an excellent start, with my usual cohort of grad designers joined by three relative neophytes to life drawing, including acting professor Jeffrey Frace (that is, he is a professor of acting, not pretending to be a professor or filling in for some other more authentic professor). Jeffrey is there as part of his research for a play about an artist, which he is both writing and performing in.
The human figure’s relationship to their surroundings is a key component of designing for the theatre, and also of the narrative paintings that I make. Traditionally, life drawing is taught in a hermetically sealed non-place, figures floating in space or on a nondescript stand. This reinforces our emotional predisposition to see only what we came there to draw, which inhibits our ability to actually see that very well. I have to force people to draw the chair to keep the model from appearing to be levitating. One way to get used to drawing surroundings is to take the class to interesting ones. If it’s a nice day, we usually decamp to some nearby architectural feature and draw the model there(clothed, of course, this is a public university not some hippie college). Even total beginners can take the first few drawing tricks I taught them and apply them to busy, complicated subject matter.