Rabin always referred to all of his paintings as drawings.
For Rabin, the act of drawing was a fundamental discipline for any artist, believing that the most basic and important equipment that an artist could have in their arsenal was their draftsmanship. Rabin noted that ‘drawing is not just an act of memory, but also an act of complete understanding of the object that the artist is trying to draw’.
Rabin took up the teaching post in drawing at Goldsmiths in 1949 and was known here as a somewhat formidable figure. He professed to his students in his life drawing classes that all art must be based on a knowledge of drawing and that, just as you have to learn the alphabet before you can read or write, a life study gives you the ABC of making pictures. The artist John Norris Wood, a student of Rabin’s at Goldsmiths, labelled the artist as ‘the finest tutor of life drawing I have ever and will ever come across’.
Rabin’s life drawings were not anatomical drawings directly but instead emphasised the way the skeleton and muscle groups function. Rabin’s method was practical and enabled him to transform a subject, which could have presented itself as be maddeningly difficult to another artist, to one that was attainable and intriguing.